Issue 496
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BIRMINGHAM COCKTAIL WEEKEND TURNS TEN

In a little under one month Birmingham Cocktail Weekend, a by-now must-attend stalwart of Brum's summer social schedule, returns for its annual four-day hurrah and, as is customary, it somehow looks even better than its previous iterations.

This year, on top of 42 outstanding cocktails and mocktails from as many venues, and to mark the big one-oh, participants can enjoy a birthday cake canapé pairing at Hotel du Vin plus the first 100+ people through the Hendrick's Hub doors, on the Friday of the event, will get a slice of a colossal three-tier cake, to boot.

If you don't know the drill by now, well, buy yourself a wristband right now and right here then, on July 11, 12, 13 and 14, tour Brum's top bars and restaurants at your own leisure enjoying £5 bespoke cocktails or £4 mocktails made exclusively for the BCW. Wristbands cost £12 and you may wish to spend a bit more (£22) to secure not just your July wristband but also access to Birmingham Cocktail Weekend's Winter do, at a discounted fee. Both (long) weekends include a raft of bonus masterclasses and tastings too, starting from just £5.  

Alex Nicholson-Evans (above), creator of the Birmingham Cocktail Weekend and, might I add, Brummie par excellence, has hand-picked six must-try cocktails below, but all 42 are well worth your consideration. 
As American as Apple Pie
at Isaac's

Ingredients: Black Cow Vodka — Manzana Verde – Cinnamon – Apple — Lemon
Alex says: "The perfect tipple to sip in this beautiful New York City inspired restaurant. A lip-smacking taste of the big apple. Refreshing, sweet and moreish. Think baked apples and brioche in a glass. A real corker."
Kiiro by Ikigai @The Goodsyard
Ingredients: Hoxton Gin – Turmeric – Coconut – Ginger Beer
Alex says: "Bar Ikigai won the Best Cocktail of Cocktail Weekend in 2022 and they are back with another innovative drink this year. They’ve partnered up with Hoxton Spirits to bring you a pop-up bar in their original home, the Jewellery Quarter. Could they be onto another winner? You decide!"
Roku-Tang Clan at Fox & Chance
Ingredients: Roku Gin – Yuzu – Giffard Ginger Liqueur – Coconut Water
Alex says: "The bars of Birmingham understood the assignment for the July festival and are really leaning into summer flavours. This drink is no exception — well balanced, refreshing and the yuzu adds floral notes and bags of fresh citrus. This bar is a real asset to the city."
Elderberry Elixir at Hotel Du Vin
Ingredients: Hendrick’s Gin – Elderflower – Framboise – Strawberry
Alex says: "Hotel du Vin is home to the Hendrick’s Gin Hub, which is the collection point for wristbands this summer so it’s only right that your first drink is a Hendrick’s number. It goes without saying that I’d recommend you opt for the £8 cake & cocktail combo in honour of our milestone year."
Ultra Violette at Lost & Found
Ingredients: Absolut Vanilla Vodka - Violet Liqueur – Vanilla – Blackberry – Lemon
Alex says: "One for the sugar high seekers, garnished with a pack of old school Parma Violets, the flavour that inspired the drink, and sprinkled with icing sugar. A venue interior that's worth a stop in, too."
Ghost Face T’quila at Gas
Street Social

Ingredients: El Jimador Tequila – Pineapple – Chilli & Coriander – Milk – Lime
Alex says: "A clarified, spicy, pineapple margarita. I could sip an awful lot of these sat in the sunshine at the Mailbox, and I suspect you could too – dangerous for all the right reasons."
Book your place on Birmingham Cocktail Weekend here

THE HUNDRED: BOOK NOW


I didn’t think it was medically possible to be as excited about the return of The Hundred as I am, right now. Bathing in the setting sun at Edgbaston as fours and sixes get slogged about the place is rapidly becoming a concrete fixture of the Brummie summer and the new signings at Birmingham Phoenix mean we have every chance of coming out on top.

The exhilarating 100-ball competition is returning for its fourth year, with each match day featuring both men’s and women’s games back-to-back, making the ticket fee a bargain.

The first fixture will see the Phoenix up against Southampton’s Southern Brave on Saturday August 3, with the women’s game getting underway at 11am and the men taking to the pitch from 2.30pm.

Returning for the fourth year running, local hero Moeen Ali will be taking on the captaincy of the men’s team, and he'll be joined by, get this, Naseem Shah – Pakistan’s fast bowling superstar. Heading up the women’s team is Australian world champion, Ellyse Perry — probably the best female all-rounder in the world. So yeah, we're going into 2024 seriously.  
Following the first game, Birmingham Phoenix will then play Northern Superchargers (August 6), Midlands rivals Trent Rockets (August 12), and finally "them lot", the Manchester Originals (August 15). More than 11,000 tickets are already sold for the first game and the family-friendly atmosphere is invariably buzzing. 

Tickets are available from just £5 for under 16s, with adult tickets starting from £17. There’s also dedicated family seating at Edgbaston, a resident DJ, live music and pyro that will wow every kid... and most dads. 

For the uninitiated, The Hundred launched in 2021 bringing together high-octane cricket with spectacular entertainment. It's incredibly easy to get your head around (it's 100 balls bowled each and whoever scores the most runs wins) and is the absolute antidote to five day-long matches that could end in a draw. Long may it continue. Tickets

MOVIES, MEET MUSIC...


Symphony Hall, only one of the best flippin' concert halls in the UK, is hosing a series of live music with movie screenings over the course of the next ten months and the roster reads like an exercise in including something for absolutely everyone.

First up is the barnstorming Oscar winner, Rocketman, that charts the life of Elton John, live with a full orchestra. Imagine it! The film will be projected onto a huge ultra-HD screen, whilst the orchestra on stage brings to life the stunning soundtrack. Taking place on June 22 (that's a Saturday night, but no fighting) there are still plenty of seats in the Upper Circle and the Stalls.

On September 6, how about this for one last pre-back to school treat? Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse, one of the best animated films of the last decade, gets the orchestral treatment and given the score was created by Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated composer, Daniel Pemberton, it'll raise the roof.  

Blade Runner also lands in September while in October Twilight arrives and, in the run up to Christmas, The Holiday and Love Actually get the orchestral treatment on two different dates, with both likely to be very popular indeed.

And because you're the kind of organised cat that likes to keep the diary game tight, maybe book in for the early 2025 showings of Avatar: The Last Airbender or the movie they say saved cinema, Top Gun: Maverick.

If you're more of a naturephile than a cinephile, Symphony Hall will also host the immersive animal experience Life on Our Planet: Live in Concert, in October 2024.   

Tickets

BRUM'S BEST HOT SANDWICH
TO YOUR DOOR


Take a bow, King's Heath's Hare & Hounds, and their Harborne partners at The Plough. You probably know that the food, both in-house and via Uber Eats, is coming out of the Hare's kitchen courtesy of skilled cooks from The Plough — a venue known for its pure quality produce.

"We've now got about 100 covers outside, when the sun shines," says Jake Golec, General Manager. "So we want everyone to come down and check it out. It's the same F&B ethos and the same moral attitude that they have at The Plough, but transferred to an iconic pub — one that turns 200 years old this year — that had everything except, perhaps, a pitch perfect food offering. Now it has that. The puzzle is complete." 

"But if you're staying in and feel the hunger then through Uber Eats we can reach a huge radius that The Plough couldn't. We've effectively doubled the number of people we can get to. Plus, where most venues need to feel their way from a standing start when it comes to what food travels well, we have five years of hard-earned knowledge, learned at The Plough, ready to go. 

"Our delivery menu is probably half the size of our dine-in menu — that's a strength, not a weakness. We will only deliver food we know has every chance of getting to you in its best possible condition. Sure we're always keen to expand the menu, and we're always tinkering in the kitchen, but we won't deliver anything that doesn't travel well. Even with our wings, we will let you cover them in sauce when they arrive, because they'll keep their crisp that way. And try as we might, we simply can't add our cauli wings to the delivery menu because they don't hold together well enough in transit. We think about these things, long and hard."

Pick of the lot on both menus (dine-in and deliver) is their Cubano sandwiches, for my money the absolute best hot sandwich the city has to offer. The pork is their top seller but the veggie option goes absolute gangbusters. Set phasers to recommend.
Steadily cementing his place in that most beautiful of Brummie grey areas, where genius meets madness (alongside Tat Vision, Foka Wolf and Imbue, to name a few) graphic designer James Bourne has revealed, on the eve of Euro 2024, his Street Striker collection. 

Visualising a raft of members of footballing royalty as would-be characters from Street Fighter II, his pixelated latest creations (hot on the back of these big ugly heads) include Stuart Pearce in that now iconic Euro 96 post-penalty pose and Didier Drogba (above) as well as Neil Warnock, Roy Keane (below), Mick McCarthy, Peter Crouch, Ron Atkinson, Alan Shearer, Carlos Valderrama and more.

"I tried to make a Blanka version of David Moyes," says James. "But the software wasn’t having any of it. I’m looking forward to creating some battles and am particularly excited for Neil Warnock vs Big Ron. I’ve got a funny feeling Barry Fry will show up as a bit of an Easter Egg character.

"I’ve started thinking about which players or managers can play the bosses: Balotelli, Nicolas Anelka, Fergie and Neil Lennon are firmly in my thoughts."

Follow James on Instagram here

AN ALFRESCO CATWALK


How good does this look? An outdoor catwalk in Oozells Square, right by Ikon Gallery, Brindleyplace.

Celebrating the ingenuity and passion of Birmingham's most creative style students and to serve as a reminder that the city’s creative heart is still beating strong, 1000 Threads is showpiece event taking place on June 18 (Tuesday, 6.30pm to 7.30pm) and has been organised by Birmingham City University.

“For too long the city’s creative scene has been hamstrung by the travails of the City Council and by fears surrounding funding and investment," said BCU Vice-Chancellor Professor David Mba. “We see 1000 Threads as a positive reaction against this climate of negativity. The talent of our arts and design students points the way to an exciting future, while the potential for greater industry collaboration across the city indicates that the present is pretty bright, too.”

The fashion show forms a key part of BCU’s Inspired Festival and will feature 12 student collections and a total of 33 outfits. The show will be followed by a student exhibition of jewellery and fashion in the nearby X building, one of the most technologically advanced office buildings in the UK. Both are open and free to the public. More
 
Join Stirchley Open Cinema and Journey Film for a cinematic double-screening followed by a filmmaker's discussion to celebrate Pride, June 28, at Stirchley Baths. Includes the remarkable 2024 movie All Of Us Strangers. More

Birmingham Indian Film Festival runs June 26 to July 7. Full programme

The Rothesay Classic tennis tournament is heading for Edgbaston’s Priory and Brit No.1 Katie Boulter is joined by reigning champ Jelena Ostapenko, Barbora Krejcikova, and Roland Garros semi-finalist Mirra Andreeva. June 15 to 23
WORDS: Tom Cullen

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"I am the last barman poet
I see America drinking the fabulous cocktails I make
Americans getting stinky on something I stir or shake
The sex on the beach
The schnapps made from peach
The velvet hammer, The Alabama slammer.
I make things with juice and froth
The pink squirrel, The three-toed sloth.
I make drinks so sweet and snazzy
The iced tea, The kamakazi
The orgasm, The death spasm
The Singapore sling, The dingaling.
America you've just been devoted to every flavour I got
But if you want to got loaded
Why don't you just order a shot?
Bar is open."




— Cocktail (1988)
 



 
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