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Old Tom's Gin Kitchen pops up at The Hedonist

16 March 2016
Old Tom's Gin Kitchen pops up at The Hedonist
With Spring comes lighter nights and better weather (fingers crossed; we are in Leeds after all!) and what better way to celebrate the end of our winter hibernation than with a refreshing gin and tonic? Luckily The Hedonist Project will soon be closing the doors of its pop up Whisky Bar on Lower Briggate as the venue is swiftly transformed into their new concept – opening as Old Tom’s Gin Kitchen on the 30th March. We caught up with one of the guys behind The Hedonist Project, Bruce, to hear about the first three months in their permanent pop up home and what we can expect from future gin fuelled goings on moving forward…

The name of the bar is inspired by an old style of gin known as Old Tom and the new concept has gin at its heart, but it’s not just the drink offering that is changing. The look and feel of the bar will to be altering drastically with new lighting, décor, staff uniform, music style, menu design and furniture – even the air freshener is having a makeover.

With the disappearance of the warming whisky haven, a new seasonal change to the bar means we can expect lots of fresh and summery gin cocktails, and a food menu which has lighter options than the haggis and black pudding dishes on the current whisky themed menu.

Old Tom's Gin Kitchen - Article

The gin cocktail menu will embrace drinks with unique combinations including the Vera Lynn Cocktail – a Gin Sour with pineapple and matcha tea influence - and a jasmine inspired Negroni. Many of the drinks will also use homemade ingredients such as roast barley syrup, peanut butter cream and Somerset Cider Vermouth. These are ingredients which don’t usual appear on your standard cocktail offerings but additions which Bruce says are shaping up a ‘very interesting drinks list’. Plus, the team are going all out to create the perfect gin tipple, crafting their own house sodas to mix with their selection of top quality gins.

Using ‘kitchen’ within the bar’s name was a conscious decision to draw attention to their food based as well as alcoholic offering. The menu will use gin inspired combos and seasonal yields with dishes such as pan-fried juniper and cucumber cured salmon, salt baked cauliflower with camembert cheese sauce and braised feather blade of beef.

Many people were curious about the idea of a bar that changed its whole concept every three months, but Bruce says that customers are fascinated by it, with suggestions for a new concept being a great talking point with customers:

“The reaction to the overall concept of the venue has been overwhelmingly positive - the idea of always changing is really exciting to people. It’s a great talking point and because it’s effectively a blank canvas every 3 months - people are very forthcoming with ideas”.

With many much loved gin bars already existing in the City, The Hedonist Project team knew they had to do something a little different and Bruce admits the challenge lies in creating a gin bar which makes them distinct as a venue:

“Leeds has some awesome gin bars already. We therefore consciously designed this concept to be very different from places already well known for their gin in Leeds. The decor will be much lighter, the food more British based, the gin selection smaller but more selective”.

Having built up a core base of customers who repeatedly return for the whisky and the current food menu - there are many who will be sorry to see the end of this concept - the team are confident that they will just as excited about the next one. The guys confessed it’s always hard to say goodbye to a concept:

“Probably the hardest thing for us is closing a concept - there’s a lot of hard work goes into each concept, from the logo design to the food and drink programmes and the hours spent deciding on which shade of paint to go with”.

However, despite their brief mourning for the Whisky Bar’s departure, the team are super excited to begin their new adventure and it’s likely the gin lovers of Leeds will more than welcome the change.

Old Tom’s Gin Kitchen six-month pop up begins on the 30th March at The Hedonist Project’s Lower Briggate location.

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