Issue 218
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True fact: The only member of the I Choose Birmingham team to attempt Dry January worked his last day for the company yesterday, January 31st. That's how we deal with that sort of behaviour around here, Ben. And as we finally fall into February's arms and all and any talk of that potty month are immediately banned for the next 8016 blissful hours, two new, independent and very excellent looking bars open their doors, tomorrow. And they're only 0.4 miles from one another. Would you like to know more? 
Above 1000 Trades — one of Brum's finest examples of a neighbourhood pub —your new favourite neighbourhood cocktail bar welcomes you. The Vanguard is a project of immense love from Samuel Boulton, a cocktail consultant who previously launched the bar at Harvey Nichols, has partnered with plenty of global brands, and most importantly, done a stint at *sob* Cheval Blanc *sob*. As well as looking utterly quaff-worthy, his creations (from £7) use all sorts of lost or neglected spirits, like Armagnacs and specially-infused vermouths. The French Method (below right, £7.50), is an Absinthe classic, given a Vanguard twist with the team's clarified strawberry water, but served in the traditional way — think sugar cubes and cutesy teaspoons from a trip Sam paid to Absinthe in Provence.
If you're in the market for learning about new things in 2018 — and continuing with Sam's devotion to "lovely, forgotten drinks" — the stripped-back Vanguard is also a meadery. So what Sam broadly describes as "honeyed beer" (honey is fermented with water, hops and spices) is a subject you're about to get expert on — they've got seven meads on the opening menu alone. For beer drinkers, Sam suggests the "not too sweet" dry-hopped Gosnell's (£5.50) as an entry point, for its crispness and mellowness.

Open from 5pm Thursdays to Saturdays, there'll be table service, and you can get food from whatever wonder is popping-up at 1000 Trades below. Reserve your spot by emailing or text 07923841040.
The city's foremost whisky club has lived something of a nomadic life, with tastings run out of everywhere from The Wellington to The Church to The Plough. Until tomorrow, when it permanently opens a bar and tasting room to call its own, next to the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter (they've got that same smart green door). The team, headed up by Jacob Clarke — our very favourite Speakeasy alumnus — have already got over 150 drops to choose from, but expect that to quickly increase to 300. And each month, there'll be a focus on a particular brand — for example, Jameson will be looking after March in honour of St Patrick's Day.
You totally don't have to be a member to get into the bar. Though if you are, you'll immediately get 10% off all drinks, including the six rotating cocktail-like concoctions that we're not allowed to call cocktails (ask for the "Whisky and..." selection). On the opening menu, try Red Red Rose (above, £7.50), which matches a Glen Grant single malt with Chambord, pomegranate soda, and raspberries for the "and". 

There are self-guided flights of whiskies to choose from at the bar (from £15), including "Cherry Blossom" which focusses on Japanese drams. Plus there's a dedicated tasting room where you can expect all sorts of tastings, so long as they relate to whisky. Info


More than ever, we live in a world where we see what an algorithm wants us to see — with points of view and individual stories lost to what clickbaity headers and well-positioned cameras show us. But rather than just talking about it, British dancer Aakash Odedra has developed #JeSuis — a choreographic piece about instability and displacement in the wake of attacks, like Paris in 2015. The performance is led by a group of Turkish dancers Aakash met in Istanbul, with each dancer telling about the struggles of trying to be who you are in places where you are told to be someone else. On Feb 15 and 16 at The Patrick Centre, tickets are £15, with talks including a pre-show-er featuring photographers who travelled with Syrian asylum seekers when the migration crisis was at its most severe.


Loki opens in Edgbaston Village this month, and we've been for a full tour on your behalf. Like in the original Great Western Arcade beauty, there'll be Enomatic wine dispensers, so you can try all the vin rather than bet hard on a particular bottle. Unlike Loki numero uno, there'll be four beers on draft, including a Brum exclusive: Kräusend — an unfiltered Czech lager from Budvar. There'll also be a rotating gin menu, and British focussed deli counter from which we hear the cured duck breast is the pick. In good news for your wallet, from today, top-up a Loki tasting card online or at the Great Western Arcade, and get 50% more to spend when you bring your tasting card and receipt to Loki Edgbaston. So if you buy £100 of credit, you get £150 of spend on anything your tasticles desire at Loki Edgbaston. Full T&C


The Chef Director of Londinium's Duck & Waffle is bringing his supper club to Harvey Nichols for one evetide. If you're not free on March 23, this is terrible news. For everyone else, Dan Doherty is whipping up slow-cooked lamb shoulder with hot hummus and chickpeas, and we're also hearing a lot about a pistachio and orange blossom cake with rose chantilly. It's £50 to get a spot at Sprout, which includes a cocktail, snacks, mains, a pud and some biccies for the journey home, which'll be a lot quicker than if you were getting back from his London gaff.


The new movie from Paul Thomas Anderson — Daniel Day-Lewis’s last, apparently — is elegant, high-end stuff. Appropriately so, given it’s about an haute couture fashion designer in the Fifties — but it’s no frocks ‘n’ frills frippery. Another one of Anderson’s power games as films (see There Will Be Blood or The Master), with Day-Lewis’s brilliantly named Reynolds Woodcock falling for gawky waitress Vicky Krieps. We’re all set for a familiar narrative of the narcissistic genius burning a relationship as fuel for his art, but that’s not quite how things play out, and the wrestling match for authority between the pair is, in its way, just as intense as There Will Be Blood. It’s a quiet intensity, to be sure — but it does creep up on you; this is one you’ll think about for weeks. Oh, and Day-Lewis is great, of course — but mad props to the relative unknown Krieps for matching him every step of the way.
Times & trailer
Venue: Ellora; 1661 High Street, Knowle, Solihull, B93 0LL; Website
Choice: Chicken Rezella, but massively menu hacked (£6.50) Chooser: Waiter

Quick recap: The "You Choose" section is all about asking the staff what we should order and then blimming well ordering it, no matter the response. Often the stock reply is a little, erm, vapid. "Everything is good," is the drab dagger to our daredevil hearts. Not at Ellora, though, where our waiter went above and beyond. "Here's what to do," he whispered looking over his shoulder as if, were he caught by the chef bastardising his menu, he'd be ostracised. "Order the Chicken Rezalla, but swap the chicken out for lamb." We were already going in for the high-five when he hit us with what magicians refer to as The Prestige. "And add saag." The result was a vibrant, thick-sauced balti bowl of beautifulness. Peppery greens and reds popping out of the dish, and packing a punch that danced the tango with our smitten tastebuds. It was the antithesis of the "they all come from the same sauce" criticism that so many of us level at curry houses. If we said it tasted authentic we'd be out of our depth, we have no idea, but it was vivacious and snappy and utterly alive with tang and twang. Pre-drinks are recommended at the
Ale Rooms and Oktogon (try this gin at the former), but the star of Knowle High Street is this menu hack. Oh and if you don't finish the dish, doggy bag it. It's one of those meals that tastes better the next day. And at £6.50 you're robbing them blind. Worth travelling for. Menu
The RSC's production of Twelfth Night is being live streamed to Everyman on February 14. Nab yourself a seat for £21. Though you may well need two.

Comptoir Libanais is opening in Grand Central on March 26. Think Middle Easterny shakshuka to wake you up, flatbreads by day and chargrilled chicken wings by night.
In the same month, Revolución de Cuba opens on Temple Street. Think rum. Lots and lots of rum.  

Poetry Jam's fifth birthday special is taking place at Birmingham Town Hall a week today. Tickets are free but you will need to book.
A psychedelic funhouse is in Brum on March 3, and it's got nout to do with Pat Sharp. Entry to what's described as an immersive, theatrical and kaleidoscopic from £18.99.

Jools Holland's doing his thing at the Symphony Hall on December 5 & 6. Tickets go on sale at 10am tomorrow.

"Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of a snakebite. Furthermore, always carry a small snake."


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WORDS: Katy DrohanTom Cullen, Andrew Lowry
PICTURES: Daisy Blecker (The Birmingham Whisky Club)

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