Issue 284
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SUMMER SLURPERS

Flicking the Vs to old Jack Frost and his wicked ways, Brum's v.best cocktail makers are out of hibernation, with their new takes on liquid summer. Here are the freshest, zingiest, zero-chance-of-precipitation sort of combos to take you through the season of supping. Move over, Old Man Winter.
Han Dynasty, Tattu
Better known for its handsome, dark downstairs than its bright, light bar upstairs, Tattu's new cocktail menu spurns both colour palettes in favour of a rainbow-full of new cocktails. Our pick is Han Dynasty (£10), a cherry liquor, hibiscus, sweet vermouth and lemon combo taking its name and influence from the period. Menu
Yuzito, Nocturnal Animals
Is there a sunnier drink than a mojito? How's about a mojito with a serious citrus twist? Nocturnal Animals' Japanesey take on the classic refresher involves two types of rum, eucalyptus, mint and yuzu. It's £12, and as the batty spot has just been given Top 50 UK cocktail bar status, another good excuse to try it. Menu
Colonel Mustard in the Library, Hampton Manor
Murder at the Manor! Dr Black is dead — killed in the cellar. And it's your job to solve the Cluedo conundrum, whilst supping back one of eight new cocktails ("The Poisons"), all created based on a suspect and location. You'll find case notes, clues and a life expectancy (which cleverly links to the length of your drink) in place of a conventional menu. The long library drink pictured is a spicy, fruity gin-based mystery, made with pear, umeshu (we don't know either) and wasabi, linking to Colonel Mustard's frequent postings in Japan. Cocktails are £13, while your choice of three "Antidotes" — the team's new mocktails — are £8. Dinner for two for the best theory on murderer, weapon and location. Poor old Dr Black.
Gin Tree, Secret Garden
Whilst money still doesn't grow on trees, gin spritzers can now be found on them, and that's good enough for us. From £90, pick your spritzer of gin, Prosecco, mixer and garnishes from the sharer section of the new menu and get supping in your group's personal pod (pictured top). Pro tip: Secret Garden is findable from Sky by the Water at the very top of Resorts World. Follow the butterflies.
Land Down Under, 18/81
So new it's not yet been served to a customer, Land Down Under is an intensely savoury play on the Martinez cocktail, with a big thwack of Aussie for sunny measure. The gin-based short which is served in a coupette comes with vermouth, an Australian Shiraz reduction and Vegemite — it's everything you want it to be, or exactly what you fear it might be. New menu launches June 19. Cocktail £8 to £10.
Bee Bright, The Edgbaston
The average bee will produce 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in their entire life. That's just 0.58 grams of the stuff. Show those little workers the respect they deserve with The Edgbaston's ode to the yellow and black striped army. Bee Bright (£10) is a combo of propolis (or bee glue — used for filling in gaps in the hive) infused mead, lavender gin, floral honey and distilled pollen — each ingredient showcasing something bees use or help to create. Of course it is. Menu
Chai Negroni, Bourne & Co
As a bartender fave, Bourne & Co has to be pretty careful what it does to classics. And it doesn't get more classic than a negroni. For their chai take on the short (£9), the team infuse grated ginger, smoky black cardamom, cloves and chai into sweet vermouth. The intense infusion makes it worth wavering from the prohibition classic. Just this once. Menu
Milk Punch, The Vanguard
It might not look like it, but this cocktail contains milk, used to clarify the bold, brassy bev, subduing the whisky and cognac base and giving that translucent appearance. The method of clarification used by Vanguard Bar to create this cocktail dates back three centuries. The inclusion of banana liqueur, chai tea and avocado in this drink? That's right proper 2019.

MASTER MURAL MAKER


Lucy McLauchlan. Ever heard of her? Thought you probably hadn't. But we're betting all the balti in the triangle that you're familiar with the artist's distinctive breed of wall-work. Her farewell mural on the Central Library is our top of Lucy's pops but she also created this stunning piece on Grand Union Canal which would be a worthy winner. Lucy's large-scale monochromatic paintings have actually covered everything from Detroit car parks to an Italian water tower to huts in The Gambia, but lucky old you can see her latest work in Digbeth from tomorrow (June 8), when her latest exhibition, UNFOLD, opens at Centrala. The mixed media collection includes pieces that evolved from Lucy's experiences of painting on site in different locations across the world, Bordersley included. At 2pm on June 8 and 15, just turn up for a walkthrough of the show with Lucy. Runs until June 15, entry is free.
Venue: Franco Manca, 19 Bennetts Hill, B2 5QJ; website 
Choice: Cured chorizo pizza (£8.25) Chooser: Chef Emiliano

Pizza. Is there anything it can't do? Actually yes. It makes for a bad tennis ball, but that's about it. And with Franco Manca arriving in Birmingham the city centre's awesome pizza shortage — which was becoming a hot political topic — is totally fixed. You can have yourself a margherita for £5 (all pizzas are
a fiver for the first two weeks, starting today, but the margherita price won't shift), which is insane value when the food is this good, but bung some bubbled chorizo on it and things become riotous. Franco is expanding at quite some pace, which would rightly worry those who have plate-cleaned their offering since the first one opened in Brixton back in 2008. Forty seven (forty seven!) pizzerias on and with four more being built, it would be easy to take your eye off the prize, but the courses on our visit — front to back, starters to dessert — were excellent. Pizzas often sogify (technical term) toward the centre but these babies remain crisp and charred at the base, right the way through, while the ingredients smack of quality. Made from sourdough and walloped into a 450°C woodfired oven the dough rises and rouses into a brilliant circle of Italy. Which would explain why their Salina branch is holding its own in Sicily. The cocktails (why were we hitting cocktails on a Monday?) were forgettable but you're not there for Negroni. You're there for very affordable, mozzarella-ed merriment and a happy-making Montepulciano (£19.50 a bottle) that brings the plate to near perfection. Menu

NEW THEATRE, OLD REPUTATION


New theatre is all well and good, until it isn't. And then it's awful. So how's about trying your newness with world beaters, the Royal Shakespeare Company? Their latest newbie, Crooked Dances, introduces Katy, a 30-something journo assigned to interview an eccentric and infamous pianist. Having become trapped together, the pair share an experience which quickly escalates to involve sorcery, the occult and ‘stretched time’. Inspired by the music of real-life composer Erik Satie, (an obsession of the writer, Edgbaston’s own Robin French) although modern in many ways, the production flirts with Gothicness and has a synopsis which comes on like a present-day Dracula. Well worth getting your teeth into. Sorry. At the RSC's The Other Place from June 20 to July 13. Tickets (£15)

GIN-BORNE: THE NEW HARBORNE


The problem with pop-ups you HEART is their propensity to close. But Sadler's Harborne High Street hang out, initially open by the brewery for just December, is still popping and upping with beers and ales, but also coffees, cakes, live music and a stonker of a selection in gin. You have two more months to get there before the venue and its outdoor street-side spots will finally close to transform into a permanent Sadler's spot. To toast the final eight weeks in its current form, the team is offering you lovely lot its e'er so pretty gin board (pictured) for £25. The selection of six gins, four tonics, all the garnishes and plenty of botanicals usually costs £35 but mention us when you book, or before you order and you'll save ten pieces of the Queen's paper. To put towards the next gin board, presumably. Offer runs until July 28.

INDEPENDENCE DAY, BY INDEPENDENTS


Forget boats and fireworks, you can't eat or drink either of those. On July 4, you can however eat a Texas-inspired BBQ tray from the Andy Low'N'Slow School of Awesome on Loki Edgbaston's beaut decking. Because the weather will obvs be nice by then. Think Dunwood Farm Angus brisket, hot link sausage and pork belly rib. Also for the free range Paddock Farm pork shoulder bun with slaw, pickles and house BBQ sauce we'll be demolishing. Dishes will cost from £3 to £18 for the prime stuff. In terms of what you're cheersing with, Phil Loki (may not be his real name) is recommending a typical American smoky barbecue accompaniment: Bogle Zinfandel. Supercharged with fruit, and body, the sweetness'll match this kind of food like stars match stripes. Bookings taken from 5pm 'till 9pm. To nab a spot, email victoria@lokiwine.co.uk, she's very nice.
 
Pizza might be having a moment but getting it by the slice is still a struggle in this city. Buy a drink at Dig Brew Co on June 15 and you'll receive a slice. The first Pizza House starts at midday on June 15. Book a tab.

The British Oak's got an understated little event coming up this Saturday from 4pm.
Epic Festival includes plenty of bop-friendly live music as well as street food and arty sort of happenings. £5 donations to Cancer Research on the door.
The Shirley Beer and Cider Festival is on Friday and Saturday. Suffice to say you'll find a lot of both, with the fam welcome on Saturday from 2pm.
Black Sabbath's been around for half a century. To mark the 50 years, BMAG's putting on an exhibition of photos, memorabilia and all that jazz, sorry, metal. On July 4, get after-hours access to the whole shebang, plus a drink. Tickets (£17)
Get yourself to The Electric for a showing of The Italian Job while the Wine Events Company feeds you five delicious vins. From £25, there was one coveted back row sofa remaining (in addition to regular seats) when we checked. On June 16, book.
 


"Magic is like pizza: even when it's bad, it's pretty good."


Neil Patrick Harris



 
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WORDS: Katy Drohan, Robb SheppardTom Cullen
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