Yet another installment of the ever-delicious (and secret but not-so-secret) 5cc… this time underneath Singer Tavern on City Road. On the cusp of Shoreditch but still in City bounds, you’ll get a mix of post-work drinkers and trendies getting their gin on. This is the type of place where two worlds happily collide.
If you’re drinking here, then you must try the Three Martini Lunch — this is up for a bit of experimentation so lay your trust in the bartender’s capable hands. Since we’re always inclined to order one of the smokier sips, we loved the Oaxaca Negroni made with mezcal, Campari, Cocchi Torino and a touch of Ocho Blanco tequila. It’s big and booze — just how we like it. Whether you’re a bit peckish or want the whole hog, you can chow down on nibbles from the snacks menu or get a full dinner from the upstairs gastropub.
Coming down with a big group? Sidle into one of the booths that are backed by exposed brick and tucked under the street grates so the lights from above trickle down to your table. Then get into the pirate spirit (really) and order one of the sharing barrels — we’re inclined to go for Lola’s Smash which is a gin-based punch with ELLC Batch 1 gin, cloudy apple, grapes, ginger, lime and basil. Aye, aye captain!
Best Bars tip: If it’s a Monday and you’re still hanging from the weekend, don’t be ashamed to order one of their ‘Shameless’ non-alcoholic cocktails — they’re as good as the hard stuff.
— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips
The Opus dynasty has launched the third member of its stripped-back, airy and oh-so convivial family. Introducing: Bar Opus. A bedazzling selection of food and drink is served from 7am-11pm at this ideal spot for people watching, whether you opt for a seat on the piazza or behind the floor-to-ceiling glass frontage.
With a bar stocked to impress the most discerning of imbibers, for the sweeter pallet, we like the Autumn Bellini (bumbleberry or pear, prosecco), while the Opus Lager is bound to become the go-to drink for the “suits” that aren’t in the mood for the stonkingly well-crafted wine list.
Try the Brixham Bay bouillabaisse for a client lunch or wait until 5pm for a livelier after-work scene.
Best Bars tip: Secure an evening spot alongside the open kitchen for first dibs on the glazed baby chorizo sharing plate.
— Katy Drohan, ICHOOSEBirmingham.com
An underground masterpiece, MASH is big, bold and definitely beautiful. Reminiscent of cruise ships from a more decadent era, this Soho staple is perfect for post-work tipples or massive steak dinners.
Nab a seat at the massive island bar to delve into their hearty and confident menu. American bourbons take front row, so it’s best to start there. Try the sweet, smoky and unctuous The Binchotan, a take on the Manhattan, with Bulleit bourbon, Cynar, coconut and cardamom, served with a piece of binchotan charcoal. Or if you’re throwing all that detox malarkey to the wind, then indulge yourself with a 5 Dollar Milkshake. An utterly delicious combo of bourbon, hazelnut liqueur, vanilla ice cream, bourbon biscuit and a bit of mint. For one to sip on, naturally you’d have to get the Sipper – a room-temperature neat serve that comes in a specially designed glass, think something between a decanter and a brandy balloon.
Since MASH stands for Modern American Steak House, it’d be a pity to leave without some meaty eats. And if you swing by for a steak-filled Sunday, bring along some vino too — corkage is FREE!
Best Bars tip: If you’re looking for an award-winning drink, see if bartender Steve can knock you out one of his French Pride cocktails. A balanced combination of white truffle honey, Noilly Prat Dry vermouth and Bombay Sapphire gin. Plus it comes with truffle-stuffed olives. Delicious? Hells yes.
— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips
Just off the ever-popular Brindley Place, floor-to-ceiling glass frontages and two seriously smart terraces put Bank leagues ahead of its surrounding pack.
Don your finest wares for champagne and oysters or if it is just-because bubbly you seek, try Henners’ eminently quaffable 2009 English sparkling. If cocktails are in order, we favour the classics here — Bank’s mixologists do particularly impressive Martinis and Cosmos.
The go-to spot in advance of a black-tie do, with flexible seating arrangements, Bank is equally adept at catering for client drinks, a lively date or cocktails with the girls.
Best Bars tip: Bank also does accomplished bar and restaurant food. Hire the not-altogether-private private dining room to make sure you are able to see and be seen whilst celebrating.
– Katy Drohan, ICHOOSEBirmingham.com
One of London’s most iconic bars, the American Bar at The Savoy is always ready to exceed your already high expectations. You’ll walk through the doors of the hotel and immediately be swept off your feet by friendly and attentive service, then ushered over to this art deco masterpiece. With more nooks and crannies than its sister bar, this space is perfect for tucking in to some of the best Martinis you’ll ever encounter and with just one look at those signature white blazers, you’ll know you’re in capable hands.
The bar is over 125 years old, and it is still the place for a fancy tipple. Head barman Erik Lorincz is an industry champion, so whatever drink you choose — it’s going to be damn tasty. The Savoy Cocktail Book, written by Harry Craddock in the 1930s, is something of a cocktail bible. It is still the reference point for many of the drinks on the menu and we’re partial to Harry’s own Corpse Reviver #2 — fresh, uplifting and with a bit of a kick, it is made with gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, lemon and a dash of absinthe. We really love to throw back with the classics here, but feel free to experiment with the twists on the menu.
A live pianist cracking out American jazz is there seven days a week — setting an elegant tone for whenever you stop by.
Best Bars tip: When you wrap up here, head over to the Beaufort Bar for more live music or cabaret (and naturally, insanely amazing cocktails).
— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips
One of the very best in the business at what he does, Salvatore Calabrese always delivers. As expected, the drinks are exceptional, but at Salvatore’s Bar, you can really feel the magic of the Maestro as you are welcomed into his world for an amazing evening of dazzling indulgence.
You are graciously greeted upon entering and then escorted through to the main bar, walking past a honeycomb-style display cabinet filled with Salvatore’s private collection of liquid history which is in itself an astonishing sight to behold. Then you’ll head on into the softly candlelit piano bar where you see the glittering honeycomb backbar. Amidst the glitz and glamour of the “live the dream” Playboy brand is a space that manages to deliver exactly what a world-class cocktail bar should. The ridiculously cool Liquid History list is the other star of the show here and if your pockets run deep enough, you can sip away on a glass of 1788 Clos de Griffier Vieux Cognac at £5,000 a glass!
The Sherry Cobbler is a killer cocktail made with elderberry sugar, sherry and sour cherry wine served in an ice-encrusted julep tin that is in a word, delicious. For something with a bit more kick try the super-tasty Marked Man; made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, Campari, freshly pressed orange juice, mint and ginger.
Best Bars tip: Try and get in a little early to grab a Breakfast Martini at the bar with Salvatore and you’ll see for yourself why he holds court in the drinks world as the host with the most.
— Matthew Bray-Heather
Michelin-starred chef Glynn Purnell is the toast of Birmingham and his nearby restaurant is the place to go for the finest of fine dining. His more affordable Purnell’s Bistro (which confusingly has a bar called Ginger’s) is where to go for cocktails.
Unsurprisingly – given that the menu is supervised by the man himself – the food is divine (try the fishcakes) but the head barman Danny is the real star of the show. The Sunday Roast Cocktail is the stuff of Brum legend, including lamb-infused rum (ask if it’s not on the menu), while bacon bourbon is also a surprising hit. Those more inclined to keep their animals on a plate/in a field might like the champagne with crystallised fruit caviar.
In the heart of Birmingham’s business district it’s a mecca for the besuited men and beblazered women (that’s not a word, is it?) that demand the very best in a glass. And they get it.
Best Bars tip: They do superb cocktail masterclasses, but hardly publicise them. So ask around.
— Tom Cullen