Claire Cumming, our delectable columnist and city party girl heads down to The Botanist for a few cocktails and some live music.
Why go to a bar and listening to their chosen genre of music when you can sip sumptuous cocktails whilst listening to talented musicians playing what you want to hear!?
I have always loved the Botanist; I was enticed by its atmosphere and cosy wooden feel. It warms you up on a cold winter evening (and I don’t just mean by turning the heating up). It has an inviting relaxed ambience which envelopes you as you listen to the live acoustic music. I went on a Wednesday night to have a bite to eat and a drink or three whilst being serenaded by the local musical talent. We sat at one of the tables by the bar and proceeded to order a few ‘nibbles’ to make sure the cocktails wouldn’t go down the wrong way. We decided on the cumberland and pork chipolatas with honey grain mustard, salt and pepper onion petals and a deli board with meats and cheese. It was all delicious and a perfect mid week ‘pre drink’ bite.
For those of you that know the Botanist, you will know cocktails are their speciality; and for those that don’t, I am here to tell you just how special they are. I only have limited words for my article, so I can’t talk about them all; although I would if I could. We had different cocktails each time so we could sample a few and then decided on our favourites. Rachel being a lover of the classic Caipirinha fell in love with the Botanist’s Basil and Plum version. I myself, was torn between the English Mojito (English because it’s made with Gin) with its cool and fresh cucumber finish and the Raspberry and Thyme Martini. The latter was a risky choice, I wasn’t sure about thyme in a drink but I was pleasantly surprised; it set it off beautifully.
All of their cocktails have a unique edge, making each drink a new, exciting taste sensation. In their most recent charity venture, The Botanist bartenders had competed against one another to create a charity cocktail which would be sold throughout the month of October to raise money for The Haven Breast Cancer Support Centre. The aptly named winning cocktail ‘Seventh Haven’, tastes like liquid chocolate orange, made with ‘Bloom Gin’, to add a unique floral edge to the ‘heavenly’ charity cocktail. It was wonderful to see our local businesses supporting such a worthy cause. I am secretly hoping they decide to make it a permanent feature, if not I am more than happy with the incredible selection they already have.
You would think the cocktails would be the highlight of the night and although a close second, the music topped it for me. I knew The Botanist had live music but what I didn’t know was, it is every night! They have an array of professional singers and musicians each with a different style. Although they will always play to the crowd, they tend to have duo acts on the busier nights to give it a bit more oomph and more mellow acts on the calmer evenings to suit to mood.
We were lucky enough to experience the dulcet tones of Jonny Ross. He started singing a few well known numbers, ranging from Mumford and Sons to a bit of John Legend. He even threw in his own adaptation of ‘Lucky’ by Pharrell Williams. His version was amazing; he had me silenced (which is difficult to achieve I can tell you). He then said the words we had been waiting to hear… ‘any requests’. We threw a few challenging ones at him over the course of the evening and what was really impressive is he knew them all! He is the ‘rain man’ of the music world, not only that but he actually runs a couple of the largest music agencies in the UK. The Botanist has really gone all out to provide Leeds with top entertainment. Rachel then decided to change (some may say lower) the tone and requested a ‘Back Street Boys’ classic. Jonny looked a little hesitant, that was until half of the bar had started signing ‘I want it that way’; even the bar staff were dancing along! We had an amazing evening, the staff could not have been lovelier and for me that makes the world of difference. Great atmosphere, amazing cocktails and vivacious music; three darn good reasons to head down to The Botanist.