WHERE DECADENT COCKTAILS AWAIT YOU
With no sign to mark its existence and a hidden staircase behind its closed door, although its sounds like a cliché, is one of the city’s best kept secrets.
Pass through the huge door and up the very old polished staircase and all is revealed – The Maven – a stylish and decadent cocktail bar for those seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and the best that mixologists can offer.
The Maven is situated in Call Lane in one of the oldest parts of the city and was built around 1851. This building is a piece of Leeds’s history with its stained glass windows, polished wood floors and dark panels and leather upholstered seating.
Fascinated, by the building, I decided to look into what it could have been before after being told there was an antique iron hoist found in its attic. Although this is only my love of historical speculation I found out that around 1851 this part of Call Lane was popular for residences of rich wool staplers. These were merchants and dealers in wool who bought it from the producers. They then graded it and sold it on to manufacturers. This sort of made sense at the property is very near White Cloth Hall – hence with its ornate internal decoration it could have been a private residence with the workshops on the top floor.
But my visit to the Maven was not to look into the building’s history but to take in the ambience of what has been described as one of the best cocktail bars in the city.
The Maven is one of the few bars to have a Cocktail Tasting Menu inspired by drinking cultures around the world.
The cocktails all come with tasty tip bits and if you want to try the menu allocate yourself at least two hours.
The concoctions are all part of the world of mixologist Calum, who has spent nearly 13 years travelling the world and picked up some of these unusual mixes en route. The titles are amazing as are the ingredients and the menu describes each one in detail.
Our first taster was Amalfi Spritz, which was refreshing and sparkling and reminded me of holidays Italy with Aperol, squeezed mandarins and Prosecco. The fresh squeezed mandarins by the way had come not from Italy but from Kirkgate market supporting our local suppliers. It came with lemon macaroons that were as light as air.
Paddington’s Punch was next with gin, marmalade, Earl Grey and citrus. This had a real punch and was a twist on the Breakfast Martini and had home-made flapjack served alongside it. Me-thinks maybe I will swop this for my toast and marmalade in the mornings!
We were told to smell this next cocktail before we tasted it. Tea on the Tigris contained jasmine vodka, fig liqueur, pressed apple/citrus. A fresh and revitalising cocktail it was served with rose Turkish Delight to give it that eastern promise. The pressed apple worked well with the rest of the drink and gave it a sour taste.
This next cocktail really grows on you. Bangkok Club was inspired by the fragrant street food found in the city and in particular Thai Green Curry. Containing gin, coconut, lime leaf, root ginger and citrus I found this a very warming drink. The ginger taste really comes out and with each sip this cocktail changes its flavour. I loved the fresh coconut and ginger served with this
One of my favourite cocktails is Expresso Martini so I was eager to try Calum’s twist on this – and I was not disappointed. Coffea Arabic is vodka, banana, caramel and fresh coffee. He took his inspiration from traditional coffee ceremonies and Ethiopia’s main fruit export the Banana.
This cocktail could have come from the Angel’s Brewery. Using banana liquor instead of coffee liquor, which can often make it bitter, the banana liquor turned it into heaven in a glass. Served with dried banana and coffee beans this was my absolute favourite.
The last cocktail was Assam Masala. Calum was inspired to design this cocktail after spending six months in India. The cocktail contained white rum, Masala Chai, mango sherbet and fresh cream. My partner really loved this and like Calum said it reminded him of his travels in India.
The tasting menu makes is great for celebrations or for get-togethers or just as an excuse for a good night out and the perfect way to spend a couple of hours in the city.
The Maven is one of those few places where you can feel totally relaxed amidst its décor and comfortable seating. For private events and parties there is Monkey 47, a secret gin bar, designer decorated with botanicals with comfy seating and highly polished furnishings. And should you want to learn about cocktail making there’s masterclasses held regularly.
The Maven 1 Call Lane, Leeds LS1 7DH. Open weekdays 17.00 to 2.00am – Friday/Saturday 17.00-3.00