THE MOST UNIQUE VEGAN BAR CONCEPT LAUNCHES IN LEICESTER
**Donald Watson’s Vegan Bar has been rebranded to Watson’ Cocktail Bar from November 2023, All offering remian the same and the bar serves 100% vegan Tapas and beverages.
The UK’s first Vegan Bar has recently launched in Leicester bringing a unique vibe in its tapas style bar food, accompanied by inventive cocktails alongside old bar favourites. The decor brings something very different to the Leicester bar scene, think mid-dark tan faux leather seats, headlight arm rests, cosy armchairs, atmospheric lighting a striking feature on the back wall and bar which will catch your attention immediately. The piste de resistance you ask? Everything is plant-based including the cocktails, spirits, wines as well as the delicious tapas. This is a bar that aims to wow not just the vegans or vegetarians amongst us but also the carnivores!
You may have guessed it, this is a bar by Jaimon Thomas whose other Leicester-based successful business ventures include, Kayal and it’s sister vegetarian restaurant, Kayal’s Herb.
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Watson’s Cocktail Bar: What’s In The Name?
The establishment is named Donald Watson’s Vegan Bar, a name that many Leicester folk will be familiar with already. Donald Watson is the inspiration behind this brand. The Vegan Bar pays tribute to the Leicester man, who invented the term vegan in 1944 and in the November of that year went on to become the founder of the Vegan Society, right here in the city of Leicester! Going vegan is by no means a thing of recent times but a well-established lifestyle choice.
The Interiors At Watson’s Cocktail Bar
Quirky, unique earthy toned faux leather seats are encased in Ambassador car-front shells in warm bright colours as well as bar stools, cosy armchairs and regular seating provides a cosy atmosphere to sit and sip on drinks alongside tapas with a laid back music-vibe. Taupe stone walls, dark wood engraved panels lined with twinkling fairy lights creates a moody ambience. There striking features of decor include the VW curved entrance high table, the turquoise Ambassador crashing out of the back wall and the unmissable red Royal Enfield Motorcycle taking centre stage at the bar. Also don’t miss the glass table beside the bar, encasing car engine parts making for an a noteworthy conversation point.
The Cocktails At Watson’s Vegan Bar
As well as vegan wines and beers, the cocktails are really the star of the show at The Vegan Bar. There is a wonderful range of signature cocktails as well as well known classics but the signature are definitely worth your money.
The cocktail list is still under development and is set to feature a huge list of signature sips crafted by Vegans Bars talented mixologists who are happy to tailor cocktails to your taste as well as mix and match spirits and mixers to your preference.
Be-lavie Recommendations include, The State of India and Heat of Malabar.
If you love a hint of spice then The State of India is for you. Koko Kanu coconut rum is blended with muddled chillies and refreshing lime. Tailor the level of chilli to suit your heat level – just let the bar team know! If you’re looking for the perfect hit of spice with a refreshing tang of sweet lime, this is a good choice.
The heat of Malabar is more of a warmer, ginger based flavour containing, Hennessy, Havana 7, saffron and muddles ginger. A great one to sip on a cold day for all the warming feels.
Additionally the team are developing a range of theatrical cocktails for sharing which can be for now mixed with your choice of spirits and flavours with some hidden surprises.
Unofficially named the Mythical Mist by one of the bar men, we opted for a mix of gin, apple flavours, and dry ice presented in a mysterious glass dragon’s body, perfect for sharing of course!
The Tapas At Watson’s Vegan Bar
The menu of Kerala -style tapas at present is quite small but in fact a blessing to the team as each and everyone has a beautiful flavour and is perfection in it’s own right. They come beautifully presented in small copper pans and selecting five for two people sharing is perfectly adequate.
On this occasion, we skipped on the saucy chips (fried potatoes with ginger, herbs and Keralan spices) and the Donald Vegan Burger (noted for next visit) and headed straight for the remaining five options, which were incredibly different in their tastes and paired beautifully with our drinks. The spices were not incredibly hot but added enough kick to complete the drinks and provided a lovely flavour with each mouthful.
Sweet Potato Varattiyathu
Stir fried cubes of soya with peppers and onion in a Kerala style chilli sauce.
This particular dish is a historical Portuguese creation by travellers who arrived in Kerala. Fresh Mogo (root vegetable, tapioca as it’s called at Vegan Bar) is cut into chips, sautéed with chillies, onions, capsicums ginger and garlic and drizzled in a homemade chilli salsa. The dish has a lovely sweet sour taste to it.
Diced bean curd is cooked with onions, tomatoes, Keralan spices, black pepper. This dish also goes very well with wine if you prefer not to have cocktails.
Soya Pepper Fry
Possibly one of be-lavie’s favourites, the tofu cubes are fried with peppers onions and a chilli sauce. The dish is drier than some of the others but equally delicious and brings variety to the tapas medley.
Herbal Cocktail Idli
Another favourite with a slight twist to the traditional Idli dish. Mini versions of steamed rice and lentil cakes (idli) pre-dipped in hot vegetable Sambar and served with a chutney.
Watson’s Vegan Bar Round-Up
The Vegan Bar is most certainly a different and much welcome addition to the city’s drinking and tapas scene. It’s apparent that the team at Vegan Bar have put in a lot of effort in sourcing vegan alcohol as well as creating tapas which are a completely new offering in the city. It’s different and something that stands out. The whole experience of the Vegan Bar is one to savour with a priority on placing the planet and a healthy, cruelty-free lifestyle at its core.
It’s the perfect place for tapas and cocktails at lunch and into the evening when you only fancy light bites!
The food and drinks are superb at this Keralan vegan bar with a local twist. The service is accommodating, attentive, welcoming and flexible which fits seamlessly with this style of establishment.
Be-lavie Recommendation: Why not make a night of your visit and head to The Vegan Bar for cocktails and tapas and move onto Herb or Kayal for mains and desserts? You could even drop by for a nightcap post dinner.
- Address: Donald Watson’s Vegan Bar. 94 Granby Street, Leicester. LE1 1DJ.
- Tel. (+44) 07961 767949
- Website: Donald Watson’s Vegan Bar
- Vegetarian & Vegan Dining at Kayal’s Herb
- Plant-based and Vegetarian Recommendations by Be-lavie
- The Ultimate Local’s Guide to Leicester