A cosy, clandestine ambience, soulful mix of music and staff who know their way around a cocktail make Smokestack a faultless venue for a night of revelry.
It may not be Prohibition-era America, but there’s definitely something clandestine about venturing upstairs into a dimly lit bar to the sound of smooth jazz and blues. Dark wood tables, red drapes and leather chairs give the first-floor bar a cosy feel, while upstairs a raised area serves as a dancefloor and stage for live music and club nights. Weeknights often see a selection of bands and singers perform in front of an invariably sparse, yet attentive, crowd.
On an ordinary weeknight, Smokestack may get overshadowed by the its louder, brighter and funkier neighbours in the debauched Call Lane, but, come the weekend, some of the best DJs in town arrive to play a body-shaking mix of disco, Motown and soul. On those evenings the top room turns into a glittering dancehall that’s packed with revellers pulling their best Soul Train moves as bottles of liqueur and spirits fly through the air behind the bar. The fridges are stocked with a wide selection of ales and lagers, and the impressively informed and genial staff know a thing or two about mixology – even on a busy club night the decidedly pedestrian vodka-and-lemonade is presented with theatrical flair and a cocktail stick of raspberries.
As the vintage beats get heavier and the glittering disco ball spins faster, it’s hard to avoid being pulled into the swirling, joyous melee of dancing. When the lights go up and the music goes down, and punters spill dizzy-headed on to the grimy street below, the drudgery of the week ahead is made that little bit more bearable by the knowledge that Smokestack will be waiting.
159A Lower Briggate
|Opening hours:||Sun-Mon 5pm-2am; Tue-Thu 5pm-3am; Fri-Sat 3pm-3am|