Following the recent cocktail and gin influx into Leeds comes the latest uprising – a new challenger set on derailing the status quo and unsettling the established order of things.
This time we are talking about rum, famous pirate tipple, re-imagined as the spirit of choice for the party scene of Leeds. And Revolucion de Cuba is right at the heart of this insurgence.
In the building formerly occupied by Baracoa (which will be reopening a few doors down later in November), on the corner of Call Lane and Lower Briggate, Revolucion de Cuba is the latest venture of the ‘Revolution’ group which has two vodka-centric sister bars already in Leeds.
Based on Prohibition-era Cuba – where natural light was as much an enemy as the US liquor laws that threatened to shut down the Cuban rum industry – Revolucion is a two-storey palace to everything Cuban. Naturally Che Guevara is the poster boy of choice, and numerous framed pictures highlight the cultural freedom his actions produced.
Downstairs is quite light and airy and the onus is on food, but with smaller tables for tapas sharing which create a less intimidating atmosphere. Upstairs is dark, with high and deep leather alcoves and secretive recesses, plus an open dance floor with upturned barrels as tables.
Weekly salsa dancing classes are on the agenda, but food and drink is what Revolucion de Cuba does with a polished style and a fierce passion. Tapas dishes of chorizo, croquettes, meatballs and patatas bravas are numerous, tasty and authentically-presented.
The bar offers a standard range of draught and bottled beers but also some Cuban beers such as the crisp Palma Cristal.
Cocktails such as mojitos and daiquiris are based on the ‘Cuban trinity’ of rum, lime and sugar, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, as Revolucion also offers less recognisable cocktails including the ruby punch and the passion fruit caipirinha, along with authentic ‘teapot cocktails’ served in mugs.
However, the selection of spiced, gold, dark and white rums in the separate ‘Bar Havana Club’ is mind-blowing, and showcases a raft of molasses and sugar cane-based blended fun that moves things well beyond your average Bacardi and Captain Morgan.
The passion and knowledge of the staff is hugely impressive and indicative of an operation that is far more than just the latest gimmick. There are some serious rums on offer here, with some of the most expensive choices from Havana costing up to £15 a shot. Don't worry if you're feeling overwhelmed, though, as a tutorial from the staff will widen your appreciation to levels you didn’t know were possible.
In all, the Revolucion de Cuba is not merely another string to Leeds’s bow, but a serious revolt; for and by the people. Freedom, enterprise, tapas and rum.
Revolucion de Cuba, 64-68 Call Lane, Leeds, LS1 6DT
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