(Issue 139)
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Bust out the comfy shoes, this July, Birmingham Cocktail Weekend is taking the city one creation at a time. For three liquor-filled days, 30 venues are preparing to get all blendy and mixy with newly devised concoctions, masterclasses, tastings and events, and we've got the pretty pictures to prove it. Roll VT.
On purchase of a £6 wristband (buy it in advance, here), a specially created cocktail becomes available to you for £4, at every participating venue, throughout the weekend of July 15 to 17. There are plenty of fragrant, fruity, floral creations for the quaffing this year, including Lost & Found's Botanically British (pictured, above) with Sipsmiths London Cup, cloudy lemonade, bitters and edible flowers. Find Sipsmiths' Secret Garden to sample a signature cocktail from the gin doyens.
Also available to every wristband clad soul is access to events and tastings. Join Gas Street Social for their Cocktail Time Machine, where you'll receive four generation defining rum serves. Secure a spot with Suntory Whisky — Japan's oldest distillery — at Rofuto's Kurabu bar (£15 extra), where you'll sample three whiskies before mixing your own mini-mizuwari, which we're reliably informed is a drink, not a weapon. Or do none of the above and spend your time trying The Captain's Berry Beginning (above) at Suds'n'Duds. Decisions, decisions.
Keeping a watchful looky over the whole weekend is Island Bar who have a Spiced Julep for the toasting. Pick up your wristbands from the tiki tykes and expect a treat or two from Jim Bean while you're there, as well as a guidebook to ensure you keep out of trouble — or squarely in trouble — perspective depending. Over at Marmalade, the hub's sister venue, there's even a Dutch craft beer and Bols Genever pairing. Bet you eleventy thousand pounds they tell you where the phrase "Dutch courage" comes from. 
And it's not just a case of the usual suspects taking part. Head over to the Edwardian Tea Rooms at Brum Museum for Pina Coladas (♫ and getting caught in the rain ), while the New Alex Theatre have an Emerald Elixir of luminous proportions and a theatre themed cocktail masterclass. And in case you're starting to get concerned by the decided lack of tequila, don't. Patron is at Bodega and bringing four variants of the good stuff, expertly matched with tasters of Mexican-inspired food.
From Friday July 15 until the last venue closes on Sunday July 17, click the map above to see every bar that's taking part and a jumbo version of this map. Tickets


Happiness, as Nietzsche probably never said, is only real when shared. Presumably Friedrich never went to the new Hare & Hounds pop-up, Happy Chicken. Born of chef Chris Hughes's love for Berlin-based restaurant Angry Chicken (whose website is well worth a look) Happy Chicken is a celebration of Korean BBQ, every Saturday of July, in the Kings Heath pub's stables. Expect Korean fried chicken wings, Galbi pulled chicken with corn nachos, smashed avocado and Gochujang salsa, double cooked Korean chicken in buttermilk, kimchi slaw and sweet potato fries. All dishes cost between £5.50 and £7.50 and we predict you won't want to be volunteering to share. Not even with profound German philosophers. Info


It's a chandelier of wine glasses. And we want one. What we also want in life is more wine, and for that wine not to cost us anything, which brings us rather neatly on to Wednesdays at Harvey Nichols. Under the tutorship of the store's master of all things grape-related, Siofra will walk you through a couple of the wines she's been enjoying, with the kitchen on cheese and meats for nibbles. From 7pm until 8pmish every week, the free experience takes place around the wine store's large wooden tables (spots to be booked in advance). If you're in the market for something more food-based, the team is also offering matched brunches and dinners in the restaurant's private dining room, as well as tasting packages from £25. More


You're looking at Sheepcote Street (behind Broad Street, next to Brindleyplace). We too had embarrassingly little idea what was hiding in this unprepossessing corner of Brum. Originally designed as stabling for horses, the Grade II listed horseshoe shaped building used to be integral to our ‘city of 1,000 trades’. Under appreciated for too long, the 360 degree piece of history will be restored over the coming years — and before it is — you can get inside, care of an Un-Tour. Visitors are being invited to search the building for clues to find out the secrets of its history with local performance poets helping groups to piece together the stories they uncover on their way. Running on very limited dates in July and August, tickets are £8.20.
Venue: Saint Pauls House, 15-20 St Paul’s Square, B3 1QU; website
Choice: Crab & dill cocktail with watermelon (£8) Chooser: Waitress, Irina

Saint Pauls House has given its menu a big old thwack of culinary Vitamin E in the form of seasonal herbs, fruits and summery takes on some of the team's favourites. After agonising with us over what to order for an appropriate amount of time, our waitress Irina backed the kitchen's crab and dill cocktail — a decision which put us all in violent agreement. Served with a chunk of compressed watermelon, the dish is tasty, the right amount creamy and kept interesting by tangy dill and a sharp cucumber ketchup which accompanies the pretty looking plate. The addition of lemon and oat granola brings welcome texture to the light, bright dish, for which you'll want to retain some of the freshly baked foccacia made each day by the kitchen's pastry chef. An overcooked and overcrumbed lobster and crab burger was the singular low in an otherwise hugely enjoyable meal, landing somewhere beyond gastro pub without the formality of fine dining — a hard to find offering in Brum. Menu
  • CoCoMAD is now in its twentieth year and taking over Cotteridge Park in its inimitable fashion on July 2. It's free, and it's lovely. You'll like it
  • Glug Birmingham continues its series of design talks with Craft & Graft at Spotlight from 6pm tonight. Tickets are £10
  • A Kurt Geiger outlet opens in Resorts World tomorrow. This is not a drill
  • Digbeth First Friday is tomorrow (it being a Friday and all). Find out what Make/Shift/Space is all about with its portable artist structure making its way through the streets from 6pm
  • Tickets remain for the late Sunday session of Brum's Gin Festival (on September 4). The rest of the event has completely sold out. More
  • Positively Birmingham launches its walking tours this Saturday. You'll need to book mind
"Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile" - Homer
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WORDS: Katy DrohanTom Cullen
IMAGES: Anne-Marie Hayes (Cocktails), © National Trust (Roundhouse)

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