Leeds bar is UK’s best place to drink in Observer awards

friends of ham

Friends of Ham in central Leeds has been named the UK’s best place to drink in Observer Food Monthly’s annual awards.

Opened two years ago by Claire and Anthony Kitching, the bar in New Station Street offers a regularly changing range of craft beers alongside charcuterie and cheeses.

The awards, which were announced yesterday, also included runner-up accolades for places to drink across the UK.

They named the best places to drink in Scotland as The Tippling House in Aberdeen, café bar 1912 in Bathgate, West Lothian, and Bramble in Edinburgh.

In Wales, the best places to drink are all in Cardiff: Porters, Milgi and Urban Tap House. In Northern Ireland, the three top places are all in Belfast: restaurant bar House of Zen, the bar at The Merchant Hotel and café-bar Muriels.

Alongside Friends of Ham, the runners-up for best place to drink in the north are Distrikt in Leeds, cocktail bar Berry & Rye in Liverpool and restaurant & bar Camp & Furnace in Liverpool.

In the Midlands, the best places to drink are cocktail bar Boilermaker in Nottingham, Ginger’s Bar at Purnell’s Bistro in Birmingham and pub The Lord Clifden in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.

For the east region, the best places to drink are Pint Shop and bar 196 in Cambridge, and the Red Lion in Manningtree, Essex.

Richard Holmes, co-founder of Pint Shop, commented: “Cambridge’s food and drink scene is thriving and this has clearly been reflected in the awards, with accolades for a number of fantastic sites across the city. The quality of Cambridge restaurants has dramatically improved within the last year, demonstrating that you don’t need to stay in the capital to enjoy a delicious meal out.”

In the west, the best places to drink are cocktail bars The Milk Thistle and Hausbar in Bristol and Venner in Bridport, Dorset.

The best places to drink in London include two bars in the list of the world’s 50 Best Bars, the Nightjar in Old Street and 69 Colebrooke Row in Islington, plus rooftop summertime pop-up Frank’s in Peckham.

In the rest of the south, the best places to drink include The Library in Bournemouth, run by James Fowler, the 2014 winner of World Class UK bartender of the year. The other two are The Thatch in Thame, Oxfordshire, and the Black Dove in Brighton.

Other categories in the Observer Food Monthly Awards include best Sunday lunch which went to the Colonel Fawcett in London. Runners-up included Hawksmoor in London, Hotel du Vin in Brighton, The Parlour in Chorlton-cum-Hardy in south Manchester, the Red Lion Urban Art Bar in Birmingham, Pint Shop in Cambridge, Scran & Scallie in Edinburgh, 1912 in Bathgate, Milgi in Cardiff, and Malmaison and House of Zen in Belfast.

Other winners in the Observer Food Monthly Awards include The Ledbury in London for best restaurant, Silk Road in London for best cheap eats, April Lily Partridge from The Club at The Ivy for best young chef, Gloucester Services for best newcomer and Shaun Hill of the Walnut Tree Inn at Llanddewi Skirrid near Abergavenny for outstanding achievement.

Click here for a full list of winners and runners-up.

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