Here at House of Coco we love our cocktails straight-up and brand new bar concepts that really stand out from the rest. The Hedonist Project certainly has the edge we look for, Lifestyle writer Jenna Clarke tells us why….
“After the success of their pop-up bars this summer, nestled between Leeds stalwarts Belgrave & Sandinista, The Hedonist Project has moved to a brand new home. If we go back to Spring 2015, Hedonist Drinks (the brain child of Bruce Lerman, Tom Finnon & Dan Crowther) came together and launched ‘Hogarth’s Gin Joint’ – one of the first of it’s kind. That then transformed into the popular ‘Rum Shack’ that took the Leeds summer scene by storm. 156 Brigatte, right in the centre of the city now permanently houses the infamous interchangeable bar concept, which will still be as fluid as the pop up – will a new theme every three months.
This season comes with the wintery theme of ‘Liquor & Whisky’ where the entire cocktail menu embodies both of those things. From classic Bourbon to rare Scotch – these guys have really done their research. With backgrounds in some of the most established bars in Leeds such as Epernay, Smokestack and Sandinista – it’s no surprise that they’ve got it all so right. After a mini Cocktail Masterclass with Tom & Dan it was enviable how much creative freedom comes with opening your own place. Not only were the drinks imaginative, the flavour profiles that came through were just wow. If you like your cocktails strong (you won’t find a strawberry woo woo here) then i’d definitely recommend propping up the bar and learning a thing or two. The names are also a talking point – with ‘Oban-wan-kenobi’ a cocktail made from Oban single-malt Scotch and also ‘Port in a Storm’ which is served with real dry ice with a salty twist to give that ‘lost at sea’ feel.
After chatting to co-founder Dan, I was also shocked at how versatile this bar actually is. With their sights set on being as flexible as their concepts, they’re going to be open early for Coffee & even BRUNCH. That’s right, finally a venue where you could literally stay in their for over 12 hours and still be entertained. After trying their post 12pm Cocktails, I can’t even begin to imagine what their bloody mary’s will be like for an early hangover cure. They also have a full food menu launching with great small plates to pair with their fab drinks, I also overheard they’re also an off-licence? Wow. It’s a one-stop-shop for Whisky lovers.
Now I’m not going to lie – I was a Whisky virgin before this. I’d had Bourbon (typical JD & Coke) but never really tasted or experienced Scotch or anything like that. So the next part of the night was definitely an eye opener. We all sat down to try some of the various Whisky’s on offer at The Hedonist, and also had food parings prepared by their on-site chef. Our Whisky expert talked us through all of the different types and also what flavours to pick up on with each pairing. It is crazy how when you get over the initial shock of drinking straight liquor – you really can pick up on flavours and fragrances. Everything from BBQ ribs to Butterscotch! I was really surprised, but went away feeling like I actually could maybe join in with the Whisky drinking this Christmas….take that gender stereotypes!
The food pairings were definitely something to shout about too, Haggis croquettes and Mini steak burgers with a Bloody Mary Relish….need I say more? A perfect theme which is ideal to warm the cockles after a cold day shopping…I will definitely be back even if it’s only to see that dry ice again – what a treat.”
Catch “Liquor & Whisky” for the next three months at The Hedonist Project, 156 Brigatte, Leeds. Open 10 till Late serving up the best in creative cocktails and great small plates. Get it before it’s gone!