It’s more than fair to say that in the last few years drinking cocktails has become one of our favourite pastimes. As a result of a surge in popularity, hundreds of cool cocktail bars have been born across the UK and they certainly aren’t in short supply where Brum is concerned.
We felt it was about time to round up all our favourite cocktail bars and their signature tipples for the benefit of Brummies and visitors alike. A word of advice: free up your diary for the weekend because this list will almost certainly give you cocktail fever.
Bourne & Co. – Old Fashioned & D&G
Bourne & Co specialise / focus on “Pre & Post Prohibition drinks, Dating between 1800’s up unto mid 1900’s”. The “Old Fashioned” which is a staple classic across the globe has become the bar’s most popular – a very old, simple yet very difficult drink to execute. The Old Fashioned is a combination of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, aromatic and uplifting bitters with B&C. Demerera syrup. The bar offer different variations on the drink including different fat washed bourbons and multi-base spirit Combinations.
Another More contemporary signature drink is their “D&G“- Which is a Bourne & Co signature designed for the fall and winter time. Served as a winter julep, combining Brugal Anejo rum, with Vanilla, Cinnamon bark, Lime juice and Pimento – this distinctive aromatic liqueur has been produced for generations by macerating allspice in rum. Sweet, spicy and very intense. Clove initially presents itself in the foreground, fading to the pure flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper.
During the weekend the bar transforms into a venue for #Vintagemixmasters, with professional bartenders, VIP table service and Professional vinyl DJs. Open from early afternoon, DJ from 7pm- till early hours spinning eclectic taste in atmospheric soul, Latin, raregroove disco and nu boogie. www.bourneandcompany.com
The Jekyll & Hyde – Madame Geneva’s Bathwater
To kick things off with the ever-growing Bitters N Twisted family we have The Jekyll & Hyde. The Victorian cocktail parlour that every Brummie knows and loves. The extensive list of whimsically names cocktails means you can go back again and again and try a different concoction.
Dr. Jekyll’s signature cocktail is Madame Geneva’s Bathwater: Bols Genever, apricot jam, peach schnapps, rose syrup and lemon juice, served in a ceramic bathtub. The presentation of this drink alone is enough to make anyone want to try it, but its impeccable taste certainly puts the cherry on top. If you prefer keeping it simple, loyalty card holders can be part of #JekyllGinClub. Purchase a selected gin to see what Dr. Jekyll has in store… www.thejekyllandhyde.co.uk
Zindiya – Punjabee’s knees
Based in Moseley, Zindiya serves up Indian street food and themed cocktails from the flavour filled, colourful nation that is India. Having just launched their new drinks menu there are lots of new flavours to try, including signature cocktail, Punjabee’s knees.
An exotic twist on the Bee’s Knees, this cocktail will bring a bit of Indian sunshine to damp and dreary days. The masterminds at Zindiya are already busy working on their Christmas menu so do keep your eyes peeled for that announcement! www.zindiya.co.uk
The Edgbaston – Hobbits in Manhattan
The Bull’s Head – Brum Punch
An all-round favourite, The Bull’s Head was brought back to it’s original Victorian glory by Birmingham’s Davenports brewery. This traditional pub has something for every drinker and there’s a purpose built cocktail bar inside.
In terms of their cocktail offering, their signature drinks, try Peaky Blinders Bulleit – Beware the bulleit of the Peaky Blinders! Bulleit bourbon, triple sec, lime, fresh orange and ginger ale are sure to hit you in a shot. Or what about the Davenports Daiquiri – While exploring Cuba, John Davenport came across a local woman who introduced him to this beautiful Daiquiri recipe which includes Bacardi Blanca, Triple Sec, lime and fresh orange juice! The beauty of this drink is you can add strawberry, raspberry or passionfruit for just 50p.
If that wasn’t enough, get your lips around the ‘Brum Punch‘ (pictured) – a secret recipe and one you have to ask for at the bar! If you fancy creating some cocktail concoctions yourself then get booked in for a cocktail masterclass. Say hello to the weekend with live music every Friday in the club room. www.davenports.co.uk/bulls-head
Island Bar – Zombie
One of Birmingham’s original cocktail bars, sail off to the Caribbean accompanied by reggae beats and tiki tipples.
Guests can get four selected cocktails plus one Flaming Moe for £20 when booking a tiki table, cocktail masterclass or private hire in advance. Rum is a tiki bar staple, so it’s no surprise that Island Bar’s signature cocktail is Zombie. It’s full of rum, pineapple juice and fire! Can you take the heat? www.bar-island.co.uk
Bar Opus – Candy Cocktails
A sister venue of the popular Opus restaurant, Bar Opus on Snow Hill is one of the city’s more hidden, yet much loved cocktail bars and comes complete with a sun terrace to watch the trams trundle past en route to the city centre.
Their signature cocktails are featured in their Candy Cocktails range, which includes sweetie flavoured favourites like Drumstick, Pear Drop and Parma Violet. These all range in price from £5 to £6.50 and are a must try; it’s amazing how much they taste like the actual sweets! baropus.co.uk
Fumo – Pink Garden
Fumo is a modern, stylish restaurant, cocktail & wine bar that oozes Italian charm. Part of the San Carlo group, great attention to detail goes into the many cocktails on offer and they are always made with Italian passion.
There’s a whole list of Fumo Signatures and the one we have featured is the Pink Garden. This consists of Zubrowka, Chase Gin Grapefruit, Lime Juice, Cucumber Juice, Maraschino and Egg White – refreshing and extremely moorish! www.sancarlofumo.co.uk/fumo-birmingham
1565 Restaurant Bar & Terrace
Named 1565 as this is the first year Five Ways was ever recorded being on the map, this restaurant’s terrace is a great spot for sunshine drinking and cocktails. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner the restaurant and bar offers an exclusive bar lounge, restaurant a la carte menu and a secret garden inspired terrace. Their Amaretto and Cherry sour with Disaronno, Luxardo, Angostura Bitters, Salt Water, Orange Bitters, Demerera Syrup & Lemon Juice is the perfect weekend treat. 1565 Restaurant Bar & Terrace
The Botanist – Disaronno Sour
Known in Birmingham for its extensive range of gins and variety of cocktails with a botanical twist and its delicious food menus, the Botanist simply knows great flavours. Its bestselling cocktail is the Raspberry Disaronno Sour; this punchy cocktail not only tickles the taste buds but in true Botanist style it is presented beautifully in an individual flowerpot topped with fresh petals. thebotanist.uk.com/locations/birmingham
The Plough – Elderflower & Pink Grapefruit
Many will know the Plough as a busy hive of excellent quality food & drink. The Plough have launched a selection of cocktails which have been designed in collaboration with Robert Wood, one of the best bartenders in the UK, to take no longer than a spirit and mixer to make – without scrimping on flavour or quality.
The cocktails are made fresh on the premises and then decanted into a bottle. This is to ensure the swiftest service and avoid a bottle-neck at the bar – ingenious! Here we see their Elderflower & Pink Grapefruit – Pink Peppercorn Vodka, pink grapefruit and Elderflower (bottles not included). theploughharborne.co.uk
The Alchemist – Bubblebath
In true celebration of cocktail chemistry, the Alchemist’s menu features a variety of weird and wonderful cocktails. It’s signature cocktail, the Bubblebath is no exception – made up of Tanqueray gin, Aperol, Chambord, Lemon, Apple and Fairy Liquid… We don’t want to give too much away here, just go and try it for yourself. thealchemist.uk.com/venues/birmingham
Be At One – Pornstar Martini
This small chain that originated in London is the perfect place for trying an abundance of cocktails and partying into the early hours. Step down into the basement bar, which now has an all new room so there is even more space for dancing! The bestselling cocktail at Be At One Birmingham is an indulgent take on a Martini and is becoming a new-age classic. It is of course, the Pornstar Martini, consisting of vanilla vodka, passionfruit liqueur, passionfruit puree and syrup and a shot of Prosecco. Be sure to head down to see Be At One’s new look and sample the 2 for 1 cocktails! www.beatone.co.uk/cocktail-bar/birmingham
Bodega Cantina – Blueberry and Elderflower Margarita
Bringing a taste of Latin America to Birmingham, Bodega Cantina is packed with flavour and fun. Every Friday night the basement bar comes alive with bachata and salsa beats with the drinks flowing until the early hours. It wouldn’t be a Bitters N Twisted bar without the twist; Bodega’s signature cocktail is the Blueberry and Elderflower Margarita, a sweet, floral take on the sharp, boozy classic. www.bodegacantina.co.uk
El Borracho de Oro – Dulces Sueños
You won’t find a better Spanish restaurant north of London. El Borracho is a stylish yet relaxed Spanish restaurant and Tapas bar in Edgbaston. Emma has recruited only the best chefs and bar staff, everything is authentic, right down to the delicious cocktails. One of their signature cocktails has to be asked for, the ‘Sweet Dreams’ or Dulces Sueños – Bacardi, Smirnoff Vodka, triple sec coconut milk and sugar syrup.. tiempo de fiesta! elborracho.co.uk
The Canal House – Lady Killer
From the brains behind The Botanist comes The Canal House, a new lease of life for the old James Brindley pub, giving us Brummies yet another menu of delicious drinks to peruse over. The décor has a fresh and rustic vibe very familiar to The Botanist but the foundations of the old warehouse the building once held give it a unique feel.
The signature cocktail is the Lady Killer. As you can probably tell by its name this drink is fun, fruity and full of alcohol: Black Seal rum, passionfruit gomme, peach liqueur, apple and lime juice. Served ablaze, this unapologetically extravagant cocktail is sure to impress. thecanalhouse.uk.com
The Night Owl – Blue Hawaiian
If you’re looking for a night of cocktails and dancing, then The Night Owl in Digbeth is your best bet. With funk, soul, indie, disco and 60s rock, this purpose built Northern Soul Night Club is a hoot! There are plenty of specials such as Strawberry Fields, named after the Beatles song, or the Blue Hawaiian is a vodka, blue raspberry and gin based favourite…
The Bureau – Rooftop Cocktails
The only cocktail bar on the list to have a Victorian rooftop terrace, and one that many will know comes to life at weekends with disco and house DJs such as Morais Vibes and Brad Ski Love. The cocktails on offer are definitely worth considering when you’re on your cocktail crawls in the city centre – don’t literally crawl in or you’ll likely be stepped on! www.thebureaubar.co.uk
Bar + Block – Various Classics
Whilst Bar + Block is better known locally for its tender succulent steaks, there’s also an extensive bar menu with beers on tap, fine wines but most importantly for this article, they also offer some classic cocktails which can be slurped and sucked up in this modern cool environment near Colmore Row.
Not so much signature cocktails but equally as pleasant is their Pornstar Martini – Absolut Vanilla Vodka shaken with passion fruit puree and served with a shot of prosecco. www.barandblock.co.uk/birmingham
Smultronstalle – Booking Only
“A discovered space special to you, treasured and returned to for solace and relaxation; a personal idyll free from stress” is this bar’s tagline and what a hidden gem it is too! The word ‘Smultronstalle’ has been used since the early 20th century to describe a place that you like to come back to and that is not easy for others to find. A favourite spot; a place you relax, a place where you can go and forget about your troubles. Smultronstalle is booking only but the experience is worthwhile with some unique and fabulous concoctions. barsmultronstalle.co.uk/menu
Article by Isobel Owen for Grapevine Birmingham