Leeds’ drinking past inspires The Turk’s Head

Turk's Head

The team behind Whitelock’s Ale House in Leeds have created a new bar

Cocktails, craft beers and spirits from independent producers are on the menu at a new Leeds bar inspired by the dram shops that gave way to the gin palaces of the 18th century. The Turk’s Head has been created as a separate venue in the former function room of Whitelock’s Ale House in Turk’s Head Yard in the city centre, using the original name of the 300-year-old pub.

The building, formerly workers cottages, has been completely stripped out and remodelled with help from Lord Whitney, a creative studio in Leeds. “ We looked at the history of drinking establishments over the 300 years that The Turk’s Head has existed, taking inspiration from dram and liqueur shops that gave way to the infamous ‘gin palaces’ of the 18th century,” explains Rebekah Whitney, creative director of Lord Whitney. “We’re reflecting on, rather than replicating the history. There’s a focus on using high-quality materials, which also mirror the quality of the drinks being served, and working with local companies on almost all aspects of the bar, including working closely with Esgate and Parkin on the bar’s branding to create an overall experience for those entering The Turk’s Head.”

turk's head Pictures by Justin Slee

The bar will have an ever-changing beer menu which includes 12 on tap and two cask lines. The debut menu includes beers from leading UK breweries including Ilkley Brewery, Cloudwater and Five Points Brewing Company whose owners also run Whitelock’s Ale House. The Turk’s Head will showcase independent and artisan spirits, such as Whittakers of Harrogate, a small-batch distilled gin company that until now was not available in Leeds.

An interesting cocktail menu has been devised by drinks expert Sienna O’Rourke from Five Points Brewing Company, featuring classic cocktails such as an Old Fashioned and a recipe using an IPA. The bar has a Victorian-influenced food menu designed by head chef Robbie Andrews, with items such as homemade pork scratchings, crispy pig’s ears served with caper tartar sauce, deep-fried cauliflower with spiced yoghurt and the Turk’s Head pickle plate.

turk's head Pictures by Justin Slee

“Whitelock’s, as John Betjeman once famously said, is the very heart of Leeds,” notes Ed Mason, owner of The Turk’s Head, Whitelock’s and Five Points Brewing Company. “We have served the discerning drinkers of Leeds for 300 years, and The Turk’s Head is the latest chapter in our history. We love Whitelock’s and nothing will be changing in the main bar but The Turk’s Head gives us the opportunity to showcase an even wider range of independent UK breweries and interesting drinks producers, and encourage even more people to come to our wonderful pub which has been at the heart of the local community for the past three centuries.”

The Turk’s Head, 4 Turk’s Head Yard, City Centre, Leeds LS1 6HB
Tel: 0113 242 3368

Pictures by Justin Slee

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