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New to Merrion Street - Mean-Eyed Cat Bar launches

12 October 2015
New to Merrion Street - Mean-Eyed Cat Bar launches
Deep South dive bar, Mean-Eyed Cat Bar, is the latest addition to Merrion Street and joins the ranks of several new exciting venues to come to the area this year. Previously The Reform, the bar is now completely unrecognisable with a shabby chic vibe and rum cocktails. On top of a seriously well-stocked bar there is also a topping-tastic pizza menu and some unique in-house designed cocktails.

The name of the bar is taken from a Johnny Cash song and the bar maintains the Rock n’ Roll feel that its title suggests, with smoked cocktails and Texas BBQ sauced pizzas. The cocktail menu has been specially curated using Buffalo Trace bourbon and has a intriguing mix of drinks including a Key Lime Pie glass and ‘The Bandit’ - a twist of tequila, lime and ginger beer – plus alcoholic iced teas. The house cocktail ‘The Smokey’ uses Buffalo Trace, sweet and dry Martini and Heering Cherry and is served in a style where wood smoke billows out and infuses the drink. As well as an extensive and enticing cocktail menu, the taps are also pretty exciting with several exclusive Mean Eyed Cat brews, including the chilli infused Ring of Fire pale ale and the bar’s namesake beer, a refreshing India pale ale – a result of a collaboration with Wharf Bank Brewery. There is also an array of craft beers from the likes of Anchor, Goose Island, Founders with cider and Mexican beer to boot. Add to that the boilermakers (a shot of Buffalo Trace into their own Get Rhythm ale), flavoured moonshines, picklebacks and a great back bar and there is a dive bar party ready and waiting.

If all that Rock n’ Roll jiving leaves your belly rumbling then there are a number of deep south inspired pizzas. Stand out slices include the Chipotle Meatball, Pulled Texan BBQ Chicken and Pumpkin and Sun Blushed Tomato which all come in 12 inch and are split between tomato base, spicy base and BBQ base.

Arriving with a group of housemates to the bar, we were impressed by the feel good, care free vibe of the venue (particularly in comparison to the venue we’d just been at, which had teetered on the fine line of hyper pretentious and no laughs). A few cocktails down, we were happily surrounded by a jostling bar and enjoying the easy going ambiance.

Speaking to Leeds Living, owner Ben explained how he took his inspiration for the bar’s theme and décor from trips to the States and decided it was time to change things up:

Inspiration for the Mean-Eyed Cat came from trips to New Orleans and SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. After 12 successful years with The Reform we felt that the Prohibition cocktail scene has been done a lot ,so instead of simply refurbishing it, we would create something new and exciting for Leeds.

Merrion Street has continued to gain momentum as one of the City’s most vibrant night out spots and Ben believes the bar will bring another edge to the area with ‘Rockabilly, Chilli Beer, Picklesbacks, boilermakers and growlers all in a saloon dedicated to Johnny Cash’. Ben has experienced the thriving night life in the area for years and hopes to give revelers something a bit different to enjoy:

The Northern Quarter has always been a great destination over the last 12 years we have been here. There’ve been about a dozen or so new additions in the last couple of years which have all helped make the area even better. Mean-Eyed Cat isn't a refurb; it’s a whole new animal.

If you haven’t already, then get down to Mean-Eyed Cat for a taste of the South and a Rock n’ Roll party.

Becky Peartree is our resident food writer and is in her final year at Leeds University where she studies English Literature.