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    News, Pub and Drinks News

    Liquid Chef joins Bar Opus

    Bar Opus Carl Hawkins and Sam Cross pic 2Whoa, this is exciting news for a Monday Tuesday evening…Carl Hawkins, Gin-tleman, Liquid Chef and all round cocktail king has been appointed at Bar Opus’ new general manager.

    Carl previously ran the gin lovers’ paradise The Jekyll & Hyde pub, which, as well as being well loved in the city, was a national finalist for “Best Spirit Pub” in 2013 and “Best Cocktail Menu” by Class Magazine in 2011.  Along with Julian Rose-Gibbs, he also was one of the founders of the Birmingham Association of Bartenders and has been committed to cultivating the next generation of bartenders for over a decade.

    Bar Opus is located in One Snowhill, in the heart of Birmingham’s business district.  As part of the Opus family it uses the freshest produce from a range of British and sustainable suppliers, and also engages with British spirit suppliers to create its inspiring cocktails. I’ve been down to Bar Opus a few times and always enjoyed it and can’t wait to see what fantastic additions Carl makes to the place.

    Speaking about his new role, Carl said: “I am excited to become a part of, what I consider, a legacy project. I believe that Bar Opus will become a Birmingham institution and will be here for many years to come. We will be bringing a contemporary technique to cocktail making that will keep customers coming back. Bar Opus will exceed expectations of what a cocktail bar in Birmingham should be and we will redefine  the cocktail and dining experience.”

    http://baropus.co.uk/

    Bar reviews, Pop-up and Event reviews, Reviews

    Yelp at Bar Opus

    I’ve been meaning to go to Bar Opus ever since they announced the opening.  I really have no excuse; I’ve enjoyed trips to their two sister venues and it’s round the corner from work, but yet somehow it was still on the ‘to visit’ list.  So when Yelp Birmingham announced they were doing a cocktail event there – I asked very nicely if I could go along.IMG_1326.JPG

    Two Snowhill, where Bar Opus is located, is an impressive building and the tall skyscraper feel is echoed in the venue.  It’s lofty and open plan with the bar and kitchen both open to curious customers.  Open from 7.30am for breakfast, I can imagine it’s an ideal place to go for a breakfast meeting, although they also serve light lunches and bar plates at other times of the day so it’s got every culinary mealtime covered.

    For Yelp’s Cocktail Opus (love the pun), we were graciously given a drink on arrival and a chance to catch up, before being treated to a gin cocktail masterclass by Langley’s brand ambassador, Carl Hawkins.  Carl helped found, and managed, the gin paradise that is The Jekyll & Hyde so it was clear that he knew his stuff and having seen Carl perform (honestly, it’s the only word for it, he’s a true showman), I knew we were in for a treat.  Balancing the story of gin’s evolution can be as tricky as balancing a cocktail, but Carl kept it humorous, interesting and full of things to taste, including a couple of cocktails; the classic Collins, which we made ourselves and contained rhubarb syrup; a Spanish-style G&T made by people who knew what they were doing; and finally we were presented with a twist on a White Lady – a carbonated version which was incredibly moreish.

    IMG_1337.JPGOnce we were suitably merry from all the gin it was time for some food.  Having dined at both Opus on Cornwall St and Cafe Opus in the Ikon Gallery my expectations were high and whilst I didn’t get to try a massive range it was good.  The fish cakes covered in sesame seeds were lovely and light and weren’t stingy on the fish and whilst the burgers weren’t my favourite in the city they were pretty decent.

    Sadly I had to skip off after that, although it would’ve been lovely to stay and check out their bar more, and order something from the menu. But on our way out we were presented with Opus privilege cards, which is a great excuse to go back – and I certainly intend to!

    Disclosure: I was invited to Yelp’s Cocktail Opus free of charge in exchange for writing something on Yelp about the event.  Rightly so Yelp are pretty keen on people being honest about their experiences and don’t require you to write anything positive unless you actually believe it.  Which I can totally get behind.  Thanks to Vicky, community manager for Yelp Birmingham for the invite.

    Pub and Drinks News

    Two new bars for Birmingham – Bar Opus and Botanist

    Bars are like buses, it seems.  You don’t have a new one open for a while and then two come at once – or at least before the year’s end.

    The Opus family will be welcoming their third venue at the foot of One Snowhill.  Opening in November, Bar Opus will be open for breakfast and lunch, but it’s the after-work concept which is where the bar will really come into its own.  Drawing inspiration from Barcelona and Copenhagen, the team have created a concept which sees their chefs creating a selection of sharing plates in an open kitchen.

    Centred in the heart of the Business District and with a pedigree which is already well respected in the city, Bar Opus is likely to be an excellent addition to the city.

    http://www.twitter.com/BarOpus

    The Botanist has also slowly been making some noise, albeit very quietly.  Eagle-eyed Brummies will have noticed the licensing application that went up on Cheltenham House, Temple St a couple of months ago.  The application belongs to Northern-based New World Trading Company, who are said to be bringing their popular brand to the city; with the Botanist concept already proving popular in Leeds and similar venues in Manchester.  Julian Rose-Gibbs, previous general manager of The Victoria, is set to be involved…a pairing which is sure to see it succeed in the city.

    http://thebotanist.uk.com/

    Musings, Round ups

    International Women’s Day 2017

    FAIRY

    I know, on the face of it, International Women’s Day might not have a lot to do with the food and drink scene in a city in England.  However, for anyone who has been paying attention you will have noticed that it’s a bit of a sausage fest, and most of the well known names are distinctly male.  So I figured today was a good day to celebrate some badass women doing cool stuff in Birmingham – apologies to all those who I missed off the list, I ran out of time!

    Amy Seton and Victoria Osgood, Whisky Birmingham festival and Birmingham Whisky Club

    Whisky has this reputation for being a bit of an old man’s drink so if you’re young and female then you expect a bit of confusion when you turn up to whisky events.  But imagine being a woman and the organisers of the best whisky festival in the city and a whole raft of great whisky events too?  Yeah, that is not going to be the easiest thing ever, but Amy and Vicky know their stuff and put on some great events highlighting some great whiskies from around the world with some top-notch speakers. http://thebirminghamwhiskyclub.co.uk/

     Holly Jackson, Carters of Moseley

    I’ve been lucky enough to visit Carter’s a few times over the years and whilst there is no doubt about how fantastic the food is, that Michelin star was well deserved; but it was the relaxed, friendly but entirely on point service that drew me back in.  And for that, Maitre d’ and proprietor Holly must be congratulated.  Thank you for creating a place that feels like a real treat, but somewhere you can relax and not feel like you’re being observed like a specimen in a lab. http://cartersofmoseley.co.uk/

    Imogen Hudson, Jen Smith, Holly Smith and Jen Nadin (Cherry Reds). Picture, used with permission, by Jas Sansi

    Jen Nadin, Cherry Reds

    I bloody love Cherry Reds. This will come as no surprise to anyone who interacts with me on social media; it’s often my most recommended place because it covers nearly all dietary requirements without making a song and dance about it, has a great beer selection and a really nice, relaxed atmosphere.  And no one minds when you order tea and cake on a Friday night.  Jen is the brains behind Cherry Reds and for that I salute her. http://www.cherryreds.com/

    Marverine Cole aka Beer Beauty

    Marverine is Birmingham’s first Beer Sommelier, as accredited by the UK Beer Academy, in another industry typically associated with men.  As well as winning award for her beer videos, she has appeared on a bunch of TV shows promoting Britain’s national drink. http://www.marverinecole.co.uk/beer-expert.html

    Martha and Molly, Loaf

    I think all the staff at Loaf are great but special mention to Martha and Molly who put up with me every Saturday morning after I’ve rolled out of bed and headed to Loaf, pre-coffee and still half asleep.  As well as starting my day with one of their delicious croissants, a quick chat with them is a great start to the day. http://loafonline.co.uk/

    Rosie Ginday, Miss Macaroon, promotional photo

    Rosie Ginday, Miss Macaron

    Rosie trained as a high-end pastry chef at University College Birmingham and worked at the Michelin-starred Purnell’s restaurant before founding Miss Macaroon.  As well as making these sweet treats, they provide employment and training programmes aimed at young people who have left care, slipped through the education system or find themselves homeless. https://missmacaroon.co.uk/

    Kaye Winwood

    If you’ve been to any slightly out there events in Birmingham that fuse food and art together, chances are that Kaye has been behind them.  From her work with Companis through to last year’s Diabolical Roses and the upcoming Expanded Intimacy, Kaye has been producing immersive dining experiences, which are a highlight in Birmingham’s calendar. http://kayewinwood.com/

    Opus Restaurant Irene Allen, photo used with permission

    Irene Allen, Opus

    Director of Opus on Cornwall St and Bar Opus in Two Snowhill, Irene and her team have been doing some stellar work supporting young people in the hospitality trade with their links with University College Birmingham and their commitment to sustainability.  And their prix fixe menu is a really good deal. http://www.opusrestaurant.co.uk/

    Pip, Pip’s Hot Sauce

    I recently marinated some chicken in Pip’s BBQ sauce and it was bloody delicious, which is hardly surprising as Pip’s sauce has a cult following in the city.  Often found manning her own stall at various markets in the city, Pip’s Hot Sauce is made in small batches and can even be made up as wedding favours, which sounds like a superb idea. http://www.pipshotsauce.co.uk/

    Katie Rouse of Crushed & Cubed

    Katie has spent a good deal of time making sure that Birmingham’s independent scene has some decent drinks.  As a bartender she has been seen slinging cocktails behind bars at The Victoria, Jekyll & Hyde and The Botanist. But taking the step up, she’s currently managing director of Crushed & Cubed, making sure that there are some interesting bottles on the city’s independent back bars so we punters have something good to drink. https://twitter.com/CrushedandCubed

    Happy International Women’s Day ladies (and gents) – lets raise a glass to those women making Birmingham great!

    Round ups

    Ten food/drink gift ideas for Brummies

    christmas_gifts

    If you’re struggling to come up with a present for the food and drink lover in your life then here are a few ideas.  I’m pretty crap at knowing what I want for Christmas, but usually alright at buying stuff for other people.  These are mostly Birmingham-based and some are really good last minute ideas too…

    Independent Birmingham card

    Want to give someone a gift that keeps on giving, right through ’til next Christmas?  Then the Independent Birmingham card is perfect.  It has a positively dizzying array of discounts at a number of pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants, as well as a bunch of non-food places (yeah, that’s a thing, who knew).  Did I mention there’s a Michelin-starred restaurant on their offer role?!  What’s more, they’re doing a deal if you buy two cards at once, so that’s one for a friend and one for you – after all, sharing is caring.

    Tickets to Whisky Birmingham

    Anyone else like presents which means you get to continue Christmas a few days after the 25th?  Well then, getting someone tickets for Whisky Birmingham festival means you can carry on celebrating right through until 12th March (that might be pushing it).  And what a celebration you’ll have as Birmingham’s festival of whisky and whiskey (and bourbon) showcases some of the best whiskies from around the world.  What better way to spend a Saturday?

    A bottle of Langley’s Gin

    A bottle of gin under the Christmas tree is always going to make me happy, but when it’s a bottle of the local stuff then event better.  Distilled in the B postcode area at the well respected Langley distillery, Langley’s Gin has a mix of eight traditional botanicals that produce a lovely smooth gin, which could be drunk over ice, as well as with a good quality tonic or in a cocktail.   

    A cookery class from Loaf

    Stirchley’s Loaf does more than just make amazing bread (seriously it’s great, as are their sweet bakes too), it also hosts a cookery school, teaching everything from bread basics to butchery, seafood and foraging.  As well as running some of the classes themselves, they also use a range of well known culinary geniuses from around the region.  I did the bread basics one a few years ago and went home with armfuls of bread, as well as more confidence in bread baking.

    Yipsy Macarons

    What do you get the person who has everything? Food of course, you can never have too much food! And whilst it’s Christmas, a bag full of cheese might be a bit much, but something light, delicate and indulgent would be perfect.  Yipsy Macarons’ limited edition Christmas-themed macarons include festive flavours of gingerbread and mince pies, and are hand decorated with snowflakes and other festive scenes.

    dotcomgiftshop

    Okay, not strictly Birmingham, but dotcomgiftshop do deliver here.  There’s lots of lovely food related things on there and I really like this recipe tin which I was recently sent – I’m terrible at remembering to write down recipes, so having this tin in the kitchen is really handy, as I can scrawl the ingredients down on a card and recreate the recipe later. 

    A hamper from Anderson & Hill

    Anderson & Hill is a great little deli in the Great Western Arcade and full of treats throughout the year (not least of all their epic sandwiches).  But at Christmas you can customise your own hamper – for a gift or just for your own really special Christmas.  With everything from cured meats to coffee, alcohol, chutneys as far as the eye can see and lots of other treats, the only real struggle you’ll have will be either finding a hamper large enough, or your wallet hampering your options.

    A cocktail masterclass

    Got a group of friends and getting a bit bored of secret santa?  Why not treat each other to a group cocktail masterclass?  There’s a bunch of places in Birmingham doing them, including Island Bar, The Edgbaston and Bar Opus, and you get the added benefit of avoiding dry January and having fun with your friends…and you don’t have to wrap anything.

    Gift vouchers for Carters

    So I can’t claim any credit for finding this one, my sister sent me a gift voucher for Carter’s of Moseley as last year’s Christmas present and I put it towards a Sunday supper which was awesome.  You can buy the gift vouchers in denominations for £20, £30, £50, £100 and £200 straight from Carter’s and can be put towards food and drink at this Michelin starred restaurant.

    Chocolates

    Okay, okay this is such an obvious one that I know you’ve already eyed up a selection box whilst in the supermarket.  But why not try something a little different?  Chouchoute in the Great Western Arcade opened in 2002 and sell luxury chocolates made by their artisan chocolatier.  Charlie’s Mom’s Chocolate Factory can often be found at craft fairs in and around the city (the latest one was Bearwood).  But of course there’s always a box of Cadbury’s Roses too.

    Disclosure: I wrote this because it’s Christmas and I wanted to do something nice.  Photos aren’t mine, they’re mainly promo photos, but the macaron photo is by stacie tamaki the chocolate by Artizone and the cocktail kit photo is by ProFlowers – all from Flickr.

    Events, News, Pub and Drinks News

    Birmingham Cocktail Weekend announces line up

    Image 1. Main

    Need an excuse to spend a weekend drinking cocktails? Of course you don’t, but here’s one anyway!  The inaugural Birmingham Cocktail Weekend is taking place from 10 – 12th July, with over 20 venues in the city taking place and a raft of events on the schedule too.

    The idea is you buy a wristband, which then allows you to buy signature cocktails at a number of venues for £4 each.  There are also a number of events taking place during the weekend which wristband holders will get access to – including a number of drinks tastings, discounted masterclasses and free tastings.

    Venues taking part include: The Lost and Found, Gas Street Social, The Jekyll and Hyde,The Rose Villa Tavern, Malmaison, Pentahotel, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Bodega, Chung Ying Central, Marmalade, The Vaults, Cosy Club, The Eight Foot Grocer, The Victoria, The New Inn Harborne, Quarter Horse Coffee, The Bureau, Aluna, Bar Epernay, Pennyblacks, The Gentleman and Scholar, Island Bar and The Chameleon Bar & Restaurant.

    There are also a number of events; Hendricks gin tasting at The Jekyll and Hyde, Jim Beam bourbon masterclass at The Bureau, Burleigh’ s gin Afternoon Tea Experience at The Edgbaston, discounted whisky masterclasses at Hard to Find Whisky, Secret BLOOM GIN Garden behind the bookcase at The Lost and Found, Build your own “Brummy” Mary at Bar Opus, Grey Goose Sunday Lunch at The New Inn, Sunday Cocktail KitchInn at the Staying Cool Penthouse and free tastings from Tia Maria, Grey Goose, Bacardi and Disaronno.

    Alex Nicholson-Evans, founder of Birmingham Cocktail Weekend, explains “This is the perfect excuse to explore some of the new venues in the city, visit old favourites and adventure to places you haven’ t been before. The free sampling sessions and the masterclasses are a great chance to get to know the spirits behind some of your favourite cocktails too. For cocktail lovers – this weekend is an absolute must.”

    Birmingham Cocktail Weekend wristbands are £6 and available from; www.birminghamcocktailweekend.co.uk

    Round ups

    May round up

    Whoa, another one of these already? Life has been a bit manic as of late; I’m in the process of moving house so as well as being up to my eyeballs in paperwork, I’ve been dealing with trying to cram all my stuff into boxes.  It does mean the blog might be a bit quiet for the next few weeks, but I’ll be storing up plenty of posts, which I’ll publish when I can.

    Foodies Festival

    After announcing it ages ago, it was finally time for the Foodies Festival.  Just before the event kicked off, I published a post about some of the local chefs who would be gracing the stage over the three days. And then when it was in full swing I headed over to wander around, and blogged about my experience of the festival.

    News

    This month seemed to mainly be about liquid news – with an English Wine Takeover at the Bond, plus a Licor 43 take over at Island Bar.  There was also a new general manager for Bar Opus and a packed post about a raft of new venues coming soon.

    Reviews

    I did manage to scribble up some reviews, in between packing.  As everyone well knows, I’m a big fan of burgers and I posted my thoughts on the third UK Burger Battle between Le Bun and Fat Hippo, plus another burger related post as I tried the Temper burger at the Lord Clifden.  I also wrote up some things about Bistro 1847’s kickstarter to bring its brand of veggie fine dining to Liverpool and a review of a couple of great Catalan wines.

    A look to June

    Usually this is when I waffle about some of the posts in the pipeline, but between packing, moving, unpacking and no internet for a few weeks at the new place I’m going to struggle to get much posted.  So whilst there will be posts they might be a little irregular and I don’t want to promise anything as everything is a bit chaotic at the moment.

    I’m always keen to hear from people about places I should check out, products to try and exciting food and drink related adventures.  So if you fancy emailing me, please do, my email address is hello @ fulltothebrum . co . uk or catch me on Twitter or Facebook.