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A glass act

At Dakota, Mircea Mirica turns cocktails into works of art. As the Leeds hotel prepares to launch its new spring drinks menu, he reveals the secret of the perfect blend.

pictures | Josey Grace

B ehind the bar of the Dakota Deluxe nothing goes to waste.

If a squeeze of orange is required for a drink, the zest will be grated for pretty garnishes and the pulp will be distilled into a syrup and used as the basis for another cocktail.

“My favourite book at the moment is on fermentation,” says assistant bar manager Mircea Mirica. “It is a definite science and easy to get wrong, but if you asked me what drink trends to look out for in 2019, that would be it. Fermentation allows you to create great syrups and juices which have a really deep taste and are perfect for cocktails.”

When we speak Mircea is busy devising Dakota’s new drinks menu and like everything at the hotel, which is just a short hop from busy Greek Street in Leeds, it’s a bit of a team effort.

“The first time we did this, we asked all the bar staff to pick one of the photographs on the wall and devise a cocktail which was inspired by their story,”  he says, pointing to a series of black and white images of Hollywood stars, which run from Cary Grant to Sophia Loren.

The result was 12 different drinks, including Apple and Pears, inspired by London’s own Michael Caine and King of Cool, named after the legendary Steve McQueen.

“For the next menu we are asking staff to pick another photograph,” adds Mircea. “But we also want a drink which is somehow inspired by nature and the great outdoors.”

Originally from Romania, Mircea fell in love with hospitality while working in a bar and spent three years working on cruise ships before moving to Leeds.

“I love making customers happy,” he says.  “One of our regular guests told me about a favourite drink of his which is served in the famous American Bar of the Savoy Hotel.

“Just before he was due to visit again, I called up the Savoy and asked them for the recipe. He was blown away that we had gone to the trouble.

“That’s what great hospitality is about, going the extra mile.”

Dakota Deluxe Leeds, 8 Russell St, Leeds LS1 5RN
t: 0113 322 6261

raise a glass

Box Office Poison

Named after a damning magazine article published in the 1930s which claimed the dancer, singer, actor and choreographer Fred Astaire had little public appeal. Like Astaire’s career, this cocktail, which has a Remy Martin Cognac base, is rich and rewarding, albeit with a little kick.


Following her death in 1962, Marilyn Monroe’s ex-husband Joe DiMaggio placed a 20-year order of six roses to be placed on her grave three times a week. This light, sweet, sparkling cocktail is a blend of vodka, vermouth, rose lemonade and rose Champagne syrup. It’s also beautifully decorated with dried rose petals.

Aviation Frequency

Actress Hedy Lamarr also invented the Radio Frequency Hopping Frequency System, which was used by the US military during the Second World War to prevent communications from being intercepted. This drink, which is a combination of Aviation gin, calvados, elderflower liqueur and lemon juice, is similarly set to go down in history. 

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