An unassuming black door on Hunter Street conceals one of Newcastle’s best-kept secrets. Behind the unmarked door is The Koutetsu, a moody and industrial speakeasy.
This is the first joint venture for Chris Wilson and Christoph Fleming but their success is not just good luck. The pair has more than 10 years’ experience beyond the usual bar skills and menu design – together they have flipped venues, turning standard spaces into top nightclubs. Koutetsu, their first bar together, is the result of three years of careful consideration and planning from some of the best in the business.
When you take in your surroundings you can see why Koutetsu was a fitting name. The Japanese word for steel encompasses the feel of the industrial design elements. And as your eyes adjust to the moody vibe you’ll start to notice the exposed brick walls, reclaimed wooden tables and caged booths perfect for small groups.
Everywhere you look you’ll find bespoke furniture, built, recycled and restored by Chris and Christoph. With the basement vibe, eclectic collection of vintage lamps hanging from the ceilings and peeling paint and plaster, Koutetsu wouldn’t feel out of place among the popular ruin bars of Eastern Europe.
There is no menu here – instead you’ll be presented with a ‘cocktail mixtape’ listing the greatest hits to come out of the bar. Just like the top 40, the list is constantly changing, but you can expect to find interesting concoctions like the Dutch with two types of rum, cherry liqueur, fresh lime and pineapple juice. Not for the faint of heart, the Vesper combines gin, vodka and Lillet Blanc. Other enticing cocktails include the Pink Lady, Golden Lorenzo and the Banker, just to name a few.
For a twist on an old favourite try the Negroni Chipotle. This fiery delight combines gin with chipotle-infused Campari and a touch of sweet vermouth. The Sloe Gin Fizz blends Haymans sloe and Beefeater gin with lemon juice and egg whites for a creamy texture, which is then topped with soda water for a light fizz.
The menu allows Chris and Christoph to push the boundaries of cocktail making, while still catering to those who love the classics. If you’re just after a neat tipple then the spirits list will not disappoint. With more than 300 different options you’ll be sure to find your favourite French gin or American whisky.
Koutetsu prides itself in serving some of the best cocktails around by only using premium spirits and creating syrups, bitters and vermouths in house. They also source as many local ingredients as possible, ensuring your cocktail is a true representation of the region.
There’s also no food menu as such – what’s available to eat is written on a CD inside the cocktail menu, and just like the cocktails, changes with the seasons. Snack on chilli popcorn or beef jerky while sipping on a Negroni Chipotle, or send those niggling hunger pangs away with a toastie, stuffed with either chorizo, four cheese or Bolognese.
All this and more is waiting for you inside The Koutetsu. Now all you have to do is find it.