Issue 106
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It's an unwritten rule that from October pay day through to New Year, you can imbibe, ingest and consume whatsoever your bulletproof heart desires. And with a huge festive offering from Brum's big-hitting wineries and merchants, it looks like drinkypoos are going to be the top of our list. Here's our pick of the best events coming to a cellar, restaurant or - erm - library near you.
With five Champagne tastings before the end of the year (usually on Thursday evenings), the ludicrously attractive Drinks Emporium is giving bubbly the huge respect it deserves. From £20, choose from an evening of Mumm, Lanson, Bollinger, Laurent-Perrier or Krug. A portion of your ticket price is often redeemable against purchases. More here.
Presenting over 130 wines (because 100 is never enough) Connolly's has secured the book rotunda for an informal trot through the good, the great and the wines you won't find on your weekly shop. Look out for a Patagonian Pinot Noir, as well as new wine from Argentina and virtual winery, First Drop. The event, on Nov 5, has sold out but you can get a ticket (at £12.50) by calling Connolly's.
Get your juniper on at the tasting room of Cellar Door in Sutton Coldfield. There are five pre-chrimbo tastings to decide between, each comparing six gins, such as zesty, handcrafted, Cornish Tarquin's and - a particular I CHOOSE weakness - Monkey 47. You'll also receive a G&T on arrival, which is just the way all civilised tastings should be run. Book your spot (at £15) here.
Join an open tasting (Sundays at 6pm) or organise a private session in all things beer for between eight and 30 in Purecrafts' cellar bar or tasting room. Included is a cask tapping demo, cellar show round and at least six beers to illustrate the differences in beer styles. Priding itself on all things food, expect some carefully selected food pairings, too. From £20. More here.
A lot like Home Alone 2, Christmas Day comes every year. And this year, Loki is making sure that Chrimbo lunch is accompanied by the ideal grapes. Join an alternative masterclass, where Loki will not only suggest lesser thought of drops to sup with your turkey but explain why a pairing works so well. Sparkling sake anyone? The tasting (on Dec 12) includes eight wines. Tickets are £25.
Birmingham Whisky Club has teamed up with Chivas Regal for an evening of tasting and blending. After being guided through whiskies to include the richly indulgent Chivas 18 y/o, a brand ambassador will assist guests in creating their own bespoke blend to take home. On Nov 4 at Vivaanta - an Indian which opened its doors in July - tickets (£35) include a meal.


In a move that's making our lawyers lose more sleep than a night watchman in an anvil-testing factory, we've teamed up with the insanely popular Butchers Social to take on the planet's most popular fried chicken chain at their own game. That's right, The Colonel just got a promotion. Our pimped-up, gourmet spin on the three-lettered poultry behemoths' menu includes gobsmacking buttermilk chicken poppers (that's chicken thigh soaked in buttermilk, dipped in pork crunch with pine salt), hot wings, fries with roast chicken salt and perfectly charred corn on the cob. All that, plus a Bourbon Smash cocktail, courtesy of Old Forester bourbon of Louisville, Kentucky, for just £15. And if, somehow, you're still hungry, the Butchers boys have conjured up an extras menu that includes their playful spin on a famous chicken burger with 'zing' and crispy mac 'n' cheese with bacon. There will be roast chicken gravy and live music too. Probably not in the exact same spot. This one-off weekend menu is served November 21 and 22. All chicken is free range and high welfare. Tickets
Venue: Cielo, 6 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace, B1 2JB; website 
Choice: Duo of Lamb (£23.95) Chooser: Owner

It's been months since we struggled so greatly to pick the very best plate at a restaurant. From the tart pickles of the antipasto, to the expertly seared black pearl scallops, to the meaty claws atop the crab linguine, Cielo got everything entirely right - even the seating was posterior pleasing. No accident, then, that the Brindleyplace stalwart was recently named best Italian in England. As for the showstopper, the duo of lamb was the glittering protagonist of the evening. At its best served pink, the different premium cuts (cannon and cutlet) show off the depth of flavour and luxuriant textures of a meat which is all too often mishandled. Allowing the main event to rightly dominate, the dish is served simply, with minted mash, glazed carrots and a red wine reduction - bellisimo. Skip dessert and opt for the crab linguine by way of pasta course. Menu. 


There's something joy-making about being part of a group that experiences the out of the ordinary in an everyday spot. And mac birmingham has gone entirely next level with its latest cinematic pop-up. After a chance meeting at a railway café between a bored housewife and a virtuous doctor, joy quickly turns to despair as the pair realise that despite being married to other people, they are desperately in love with each other. As part of the BFI's Love season, enjoy a very special screening of Noel Coward's iconic British classic, Brief Encounter, in the lovingly refurbished art deco splendour of Moor Street Station. And with a few surprises heavily hinted at, all we'll say is good luck working out whether the station master is part of the show. From December 4 to 6, tickets are £10.


Galleries night is tomorrow (Friday, October 30). And if that means absolutely nothing to you, here's the brief: from 5pm specially commissioned buses will transport lovers, likers and the curious among you between six of Brum's top art spots. The galleries open until 9pm, with guided tours and sustenance on offer at a number of venues. Focus on Flinck or re-discover the Roman Empire through the medium of coins at the Barber (pictured). Survey forty years of punk at BCU's Parkside Gallery, then catch the penultimate night of Robert Perry's solo exhibition at the RBSA. Safe passage for the night is the very best price (so, free) and when someone asks you what you got up to at the weekend, even practicing the response will feel rightly righteous. Timetable & route.
  • In a three-for-one of silly good proportions, Bournville's annual fireworks display is taking place on Halloween as part of an(other) ale and food festival to come to the (dry) village. How d'you like them toffee apples?
  • A rambunctious, joy-filled mix of jazz, funk and hip hop is coming to the Hare & Hounds in the form of the indomitable Hot 8 Brass Band on Wednesday November 4. Tickets
  • Tilt, Brum's new craft beer, coffee bar and pin ball lounge opens on Saturday in City Arcade off Union Street. Nuf said
  • Ladies: bring a pair of unwanted jeans to Liquor Store and get 20% off a new pair. Or you can do this. Until Nov 15
  • Small plates and cocktails care of Nomad can be found in the gallery space of Grand Union from 7pm on November 6. Expect Mexican and Germanic influence (we have no idea what you should expect). Tickets
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"It's awfully easy to lie when you know that you're trusted implicitly. So very easy, and so very degrading."
- Laura Jesson, A Brief Encounter 
WORDS: Katy DrohanTom Cullen
IMAGES: Verity Milligan (The Drinks Emporium), Ross Jukes (Moor Street Station), Matt Saunders (Butchers Social), Flickr Commons: Gavin Warrins (Barber Institute)
I CHOOSE Birmingham, Unit 317, Zellig, Gibb Street, Birmingham, B9 4AA

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