Dating back to the end of the 19th century, The Victoria is a jewel in the crown of the Bitters N’ Twisted family: a group of independent bars and pubs in and around Birmingham – all unique establishments that share brilliantly conceptualised and unforgettable eclectic style.
Located right in the heart of central Birmingham, literally next door to The New Alexandria Theatre and easy walking distance from both the Hippodrome and the O2 Academy, The Victoria is eminently well deserving of its reputation as an outstanding theatre pub.
However it’s not all about location; The Victoria is so much more than just a haunt for passing theatre trade – actually if local legends are to be believed, it is haunted. Resident ghost aside, this pub is hugely popular with locals, who flock here in groups to enjoy the regular and varied entertainment, the simple menu of burgers and pizza and notably, the offerings of the bar, which includes over one hundred types of whiskey, more than forty variations of craft beers, a diverse selection of locally brewed cask ales and a famously good cocktail menu.
Upon crossing the threshold of The Victoria, be prepared to leave the ordinary urban humdrum behind
Upon crossing the threshold of The Victoria, be prepared to leave the ordinary urban humdrum behind, and enter another world of extraordinary design choices. Deepest green wallpaper features classic Victorian motifs of botany, science and wildlife.
Ornate ivy-bound birdcages hang from ceilings. Fantastical depictions of animals in formal suits stare out from lavishly framed oil paintings around the room. Collectible whiskey boxes line shelves like library bindings. An archway leads into a lower level bar that houses the resident DJ as well as further eclectic art: golden candelabras decorate the artex ceiling and the walls themselves are tattooed with Sailor Jerry love-hearts and pin up girls.
Even the Cajun-themed burger and pizza menu has references to modern pop culture for those in the know. One of the pizza dishes caught my eye with its mischievous Breaking Bad-inspired title, Los Pollos Hermanos: toppings of roast chicken, sweet corn and mushroom served with salad leaves and a drizzle of ranch dressing.
Aubrey Allen Chicken Wings in sticky BBQ sauce was a delicious meat feast for people who don’t mind getting stuck in to messy finger food. N’duja & Chorizo Mac & Cheese offered a Cajun twist on a classic American side, alongside a couple of healthier options, such as Sweet Potato Fries and Caesar Salad, available with grilled chicken for a more filling option. Served on simple plates and disposable foil trays, this menu is an unpretentious, inexpensive way to bring street food indoors, catering for hungry people who prefer to eat while enjoying diverse live entertainment in a vibrant setting.
One of the pizza dishes caught my eye with its mischievous Breaking Bad-inspired title, Los Pollos Hermanos
There was a fascinating meet-up taking part upstairs in the private function room called Skeptics Night where a group of bright and curious-minded individuals were practicing their public debating skills on matters of science, rationality, skepticism and critical thinking.
Meanwhile downstairs I was enjoying an expertly blended Puerto Colada (the national cocktail of Puerto Rico), in the midst of one of Birmingham’s most popular smartphone quizzes, surrounded by a lively younger crowd of midweek local drinkers. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more interesting, a trip to the bathrooms (past an emerald-eyed tigress in a dress) led me to a toilet that was wallpapered entirely in magazine collage cut-outs featuring decades of pop culture images and articles.
It comes to mind, that if Lewis Caroll had written about a public house it would undoubtedly be this establishment. Bitters N’ Twisted invites you to step from the streets of Birmingham into a Wonderland that is The Victoria.
Other entertainment offerings from The Victoria includes:
- Gigs and live bands featuring local talent and promoters
- Improv comedy nights
- DJ’s every Friday & Saturday 9pm – 2am playing funk, disco, soul, hip hop & RnB
- Monthly 80’s disco party
Review by Lisa Cooper for Grapevine Birmingham @lisacooperartistry