Prior to its 8th Birthday party last week, I’m absolutely certain I’d never before set foot in Call Lane Social sober.
For me it was synonymous with its upstairs alter-ego the Tiki Hideaway and conjured up blurry memories of flaming zombies, leis and, eventually, having to navigate my wobbly way down the staircase come kicking out time. While that’s all well and good it turns out I’ve been missing out on a genuinely great bar downstairs, and what a time to discover it… when I’m about to leave Leeds. Thankfully, though they didn’t know it, the wonderful team at Call Lane Social treated me to the perfect Leeds send-off.
As well as celebrating this Leeds bar scene institution’s 8th year on the Lane, the event celebrated the launch of the bar’s brand new Signature Gin Serves – a crate delivered to your table that lets you play bartender; y’know, without all the dealing with drunk punters and cleaning up spilled drinks, it’s win-win. For £30, take your pick of four from a choice of six gins and they’re added to a very on-trend mini wooden crate alongside the experts’ suggested tonic pairings and garnishes and a bucket of ice with tongs that will have you feeling very fancy indeed.
Despite its mass popularity, I’ve only just boarded the gin train so this was a genuine opportunity for me to discover how good a gin and tonic can be when it’s more than just… well… a pre-mixed tin of Gordons and tonic. The sloe gin with lemon tonic, in particular, was stunningly good as the bitter lemon perfectly toned down the sickly sweetness of sloes to create a cocktail that was simple to mix yet complex to drink. I’ll definitely be annoying bartenders down South by making requests to replicate it.
By the end of our gin crate and its generous four 50ml bottles of delicious flavoured gins I was feeling decidedly less sober, so obviously this was the ideal moment for hula dancers to appear and tempt everyone upstairs for some tiki time.
And so we went, sampling the brand new Volcano cocktail and as many flaming zombies as could handle while the after-party descended into a jungle of drum beats, a limbo contest and dancing before we inevitably had to make an early pilgrimage back down the stairway to heaven – it was a school night after all – and in search of sustenance in the form of a Five Guys with the random selection of toppings only a drunk person can choose.
I can count on one hand the number of evenings out I have left before I leave the North, and I have no doubt they’re going to struggle to beat the great time Call Lane Social & the Tiki Hideaway showed me. It may have been their birthday party, but I think I’ll also class it as my leaving do.
Rosie writes for Leeds Living on food and drink, health, beauty, culture and retail.