Issue 135
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We didn't get Glastonbury tickets either. But what we did do is mastermind (come up with the title for) the event which will keep your thoughts far away from Worthy Farm come June 25. The very best liquid refreshment you can get within 50 miles is the concept and most of the distillers, makers, mixers and food givers you'll gain access to are based considerably closer. Here's what you've inadvertently traded in Coldplay and trench foot for. Well done. 
Fill Thy Purse With Shakespeare
Distance from market: 28.8 miles
Venturing into big bad Brum from the rolling countryside, Shakespeare's Distillery, which formed 399 years after the death of its namesake, is bringing their Stratford London dry, which is handcrafted in small batches with Tudor garden botanicals including rose, lemon balm, rosemary and old English lovage. You can also get a first taste of their dreamy second production, Mulberry Gin.
Blind Taste Test: Budget v Boutique
Distance from market: 1.7 miles
Morrisons beat off plenty of branded competition to top Which?'s 2015 gin taste test. And at £10.49 a bottle, it's probably about time to challenge your palate and get involved in what is one of a number of masterclasses taking place on the day — The Great Gin Debate. Join Carl Hawkins who is pitching boutique brands against Lidl's finest. Like all masterclasses, it's bookable separately (from £10).
(Probably) Your New Favourite Beer
Distance from market: 8.6 miles
After ten years of home brewing and two national cycling records (still held), the obvious next step for founder, Scott, was to open a brewery, right? Blackheath-based and family run, Fixed Wheel was incepted in September 2014 and has been growing organically ever since. Try Pope of Dope, the team's Giro d'Italia inspired brew, which is flavoured with lemon and hibiscus, pink in colour and named with cycling's doping king, Michele Ferrari in mind. It's dark. It's niche. And we love it. 
The Cordial Connoisseur
Distance from market: 4.2 miles
Using ingredients from the garden as well as foraged and local, ethically sourced wares, Cuffufle Preserves is pretty much the queen, the king and all the minor royal roles we don't know the official titles for, when it comes to cordials. Try classic elderflower, or plump for lime & mint (AKA Cuffufle's official unofficial instant mojito mix). Founder and creator, Rachel is also quick to recommend a splash of dark rum with Cuffufle's apple & ginger cordial. 
Bag Some Brummie Fish'n'Chips
Distance from market: 18.9 miles
Fish and chips just got given the ultimate south Asian makeover. The English Indian is serving up fresh marinated cod, deep fried in pakora batter, served with chaat masala fries and chilli minted mushy peas. There's pakora battered halloumi for veggies and first sight of Baked In Brick's new wheels (as well as its pizzas), plus the man formerly known as Low'N'Slow. Actually, that's still Andy's name.
Any Other Booze-ness?
Distance from market: 28 miles or less
Also getting all drinky and local will be the city's best shakers and creators. Get into The Wilderness without moving, care of a cocktail and canape sesh from Brum's most fantastical newbie. Get your chops round 40 St Paul's Hockley Tonic Syrup (previously only available in the bar), then take in their cocktail stint at the Brum Association Bartenders choice stand, executed by Rob Wood. Or learn to Grow your own G&T with Kitchen School & Langley's. Greatness guaranteed.
The Local Drinks Market is on Saturday June 25, from 12pm until 5pm at The Bond. Entry is £15, with masterclasses from £10. More happenings, one-off hook-ups and local traders to be confirmed. Tickets right here.
Venue: Five Rivers, Vicarage Place; Walsall WS1 3NA; website
Choice: Manchurian (£6.50) Chooser: Chef

If you're one of the two people on Earth who have an irrational fear of chandeliers inexplicably disconnecting and, courtesy of gravity, meeting your cranium at pace, firstly, we should meet. Talk it through. Group therapy. Secondly, you should pick your seat at Five Rivers wisely. We were positioned beneath the stunning supernova of a light fitting pictured and "the voices" went into overdrive. Still, they couldn't drown out a seriously superb meal. Five Rivers is hot on the heels of Lasan and Asha's when it comes to the region's best Indian fine-dining and one mouthful in particular was, to coin a playground phrase from the 80s, badly wicked skills. The team's Manchurian look like this. They're fresh garden vegetables, finely diced and bound together - deep fried, then simmered in a full bodied jus. The result? The sudden, eye-popping realisation that vegetarians might well be on to something. Manchurian is on their Father's Day menu. Hire a limo. You're taking him to Walsall.


One performer, four headlights on the stage, mixer and light console AWOL. The rest of the company has disappeared. So begins Quintetto (pictured), the ultimate victor of last year's BE Festival, which is relevant to you because the 2016 edition of Brum's big-hitting European exchange programme starts on June 21. Taking over the stage, rafters and just about every available spot at The REP, the cultural cross-pollination of theatre, dance, circus, comedy and music has performers coming from Switzerland to Slovenia for the five-day programme. Every night includes pretty much the best interval dinner ever incepted - eat on the main stage looking out at the auditorium with the performers.
Full menuFull programme! Praise be!


The High Field's done gone got itself a Town House in which you can rest your head, weary or otherwise. Available to book now, and to stay in from June 8, earlier in the week, we broke in (we didn't) and spent the night (we actually did). Think roll top baths, anitquey furniture you really want to steal, and space - plenty of it. The room we sequestered (No. 1) was airy, well lit and split level with a sofa, ottoman and desk, as well as design ideas we'd have to pay someone far too much cashdollar to emulate. There's a sitting room rather than a reception and an all together homely feel (minus the clutter, kids and kid-related clutter). Rooms are from £135, including breakfast for two, to be taken over at the pub. Open house is June 6. More.


Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling aren’t exactly known for their funny bones, so it’s a joy to report that they’re likely to be 2016’s funniest double act in this charmingly goofy yet at times hard-edged buddy comedy from the genre’s master: Shane ‘Lethal Weapon’ Black. We’re in a Boogie Nights-ish softly stylised Seventies LA and our Oscar-botherers are a pair of private eyes both tasked with finding the same missing girl. They eventually team up, of course – at least they do after Crowe breaks Gosling’s arm – and we’re off on a Byzantinely noir-ish plot taking in evil car manufacturers, porn-as-agitprop and an assassin with his face painted blue. That said, the story’s not really the point: Crowe and Gosling are visibly having a blast, the period soundtrack and suits are on point, and it somehow manages to have a core that is at once ruthless and sweet. Pure enjoyment, this one. Times & trailer


Since giving up their nomadic ways and finding a perma home in the JQ, you might assume Two Cats Kitchen would be slightly more inclined to bed down and stick to a safe and certain menu. You'd be completely wrong. Changing as regularly as every three weeks, the latest additions include Squid Porridge and G&T (pictured). Comprising a rosewater meringue and thyme sponge (the green mossy looking bits), as well as poppy seeds, juniper mousse and milk ice-cream, cucumbers are additionally compressed with juniper syrup using a vac-packer. Of course. Seven courses is £42. Book


Serendipity (pictured) is the work of Erich Fichtner, a designer and creator of furniture with thirty years of woodworking behind him. His fluid piece, made out of French ash, utilises many of the techniques Fichtner learnt as a luxury yacht fitter including steam-bending and curved lamination. Catch, and maybe even buy, his work together with artisan jewellery and the kind of British made furniture we aspire to own at Artisan Alchemy. Including a gallery, studios and bench space to rent, the hub launched earlier in the year on Caroline Street in the JQ and has been doing beautiful things ever since.
  • Learn to build your own film night with Flatpack Film Festival and Impact Hub on June 16 at 6.30pm. It's free but you will need to register
  • Got the next million pound idea? UberPITCH is in Brum tomorrow (Friday) and you've still got time to secure an elevator pitch with an investor (who will be waiting for you in the Uber). More
  • Turning to See: From Van Dyck to Lucian Freud launched at BMAG on Saturday. Alongside works by Picasso and Rembrandt, expect a self-portrait of Van Dyck, costing £10 million and in Brum until September
  • IGers Birmingham is hosting an Instameet to coincide with the glorious happening that is City of Colours on June 18. Register for free. You'll like it
  • Peel & Stone Harbone opens next week. REJOICE!
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"So you're telling me you made a porno where the plot is the point?" - Holland March, Nice Guys
WORDS: Katy Drohan, Andrew Lowry, Tom Cullen
IMAGES: Tom Bird (Two Cats)

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