The best cocktails bars in Birmingham are a diverse bunch. And with new venues popping up all over town – from secret underground lairs and glam hotel lounges to raucous restaurants – you’re sure to find your tipple of choice. 

Here’s the ultimate guide on where to sip the city’s finest cocktails.

Is this 21st-century Birmingham or 1920s New York? Hard to tell sometimes with the likes of Bourne & Co, another sleek speakeasy classin’ up the joint. Make like a gangster (or moll) and sip your way through their carefully curated menu of vintage cocktails, which walks you through the golden age, prohibition and tiki years. With space for just 60, it’s ideal for shooting the breeze or swapping sweet nothings one on one. We’ll be damned if this ain’t the finest lil’ New York spot this side o’ Suffolk Street Queensway.

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Craft Dining Rooms is a British restaurant and cocktail bar in the heart of Birmingham. Our favourite thing about them? These guys do an absolutely fabulous (and very important) job of championing artisan suppliers and British vineyards. For Craft Dining Rooms, dining is all about you. These guys put 100% into everything they do, and that's not an overstatement. Everything is hand crafted, hand picked, and home grown from the food, the drinks, the art and even their logo.

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At its very essence, 52 Gas Street is the bastion of a good time. It’s a lively little spot that knows how to pull in the crowds. Live music flows through the space on a nightly basis, whilst people sip cocktails and craft beers of the highest calibre in comfortable secluded booths or on stools at the bar’s edge. During the summer months, patrons flock the canalside to enjoy a drink in the sun, filling the whole strip with a laid-back yet buzzy vibe.

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Making itself part of the Custard Factroy’s ever-growing collection of quality independent venues, the Stag Digbeth is one cool hangout. On entry, you’ll meet the bar-slash-coffeehouse. A long wooden clad bar with a gleaming metallic top runs along one side, where a specialised drinks team busy themselves by mixing house cocktails (the Super Fruity 3 Rum Punch is exactly what the doctor ordered) and pouring crisp pints (ours is the Meantime Anytime IPA, cheers). There’s plenty of space to stand and sit, and on busier nights or hot days, the large doors open up to allow punters to spill into the Custard Factory’s buzzy courtyard space.

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The Mailbox and its surrounding streets are a safe bet to find a decent cocktail. With its low-lit, laidback vibes and superb value, we’d put our money on Churchills. With more than 80 gins, plus two for one on all cocktails before 8pm, just remember not to stray too close to the canal below once you’ve had your fill. Prevent unplanned swimming by lining your stomach first with the top-notch vegan food from BA-HA, now permanent residents at Churchills. Live music every Friday takes the mood up a tempo, making this a perfect starting point for a night out on the town.

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Tucked away on a backstreet in Chinatown, 18/81 could not be more deliciously hidden. Based in a former army barracks dating back to – you guessed it – 1881, this suave speakeasy is a hipster’s paradise, complete with doorbell entry and street art by local renegade Foka Wolf. An antidote to overly sweet, generic cocktails, 18/81 is all about fresh, unique drinks concocted in line with the seasons – and the mixologist’s mood. We’ll drink to that.

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If you like your cocktails served with a big slice of sophistication, The Edgbaston should be top of your list. With not one, but three cocktail lounges to its name, this elegant boutique hotel knows a thing or two about mixing. Its multi-award winning art deco lounge is a homage to the decadent days of pre-dinner martinis and boisterous jazz bands. The talented bartenders rely on premium liquors and the freshest ingredients. There’s also wine and beer for non-cocktail drinkers, plus 12 different champagne options, if bubbles are in order.

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One of our go-to destinations for a boogie, Island Bar is a much-loved city-centre tiki bar. Keep long hair out of the way if you order the Flamin’ Moe; the Wray & Nephew rum, orange liqueur and cotton candy cocktail is served as the name suggests: on fire. Next door to Bourne & Co (see above) and a coconut’s throw from lively John Bright Street, there’s no shortage of entertainment options in the surrounding area. Island Bar also provides the perfect post-show night cap for those visiting nearby Alexandra Theatre.

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40 St Paul’s is officially the world’s best gin bar, according to Gin Magazine. Tucked away at the top of attractive St Paul’s Square, it’s a tiny bar serving a whopping 140 gins to just 24 lucky people at a time. It goes without saying that booking is essential. And if trying to choose a gin from the extensive list proves too tough, you could always join one of their fully guided tasting sessions, including a gin, cheese and chocolate pairing class. Sign us right up.

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Manhattan Ave. is a little gem on Lower Severn St, steps away from New Street station. Complete with exposed brickwork and hand-painted murals of the Big Apple skyline, you might forget, for a moment, you’re in the middle of Birmingham. And while this industrial-styled hangout may have been named after New York’s most famous borough, there are plenty of British-inspired options, too. On the American side of the menu, there’s an array of barrel-aged drinks, while those with a soft spot for gin will relish the likes of English Rose and Raspberry Tipple.

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Tapas. Fine art. Antiques. Luxury watches. Ana Rocha Bar & Gallery has it all. And, most importantly, it serves a respectable selection of classic and reconstructed cocktails, such as the rhubarb and ginger negroni. Mmm. The densely furnished room comes complete with canvases by Spanish artist Vera Montalban (all up for sale). Plus the pink lighting is a memorable touch. Strut up the red carpet and embrace the zaniness within.

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Smack bang in the middle of Chinatown and the Gay Village, The Loft is the kind of fun bar-restaurant that everyone wants to stop by. Daytime and early evenings are generally pretty chill, while the party really gets started on Friday and Saturday nights, with the help of DJ Simon Baker. £7 cocktails help draw the punters, as does Monday’s two for £10 offer. Loft favourites include Ri Ri’s Rum Punch (Rihanna’s genuine rum punch recipe), made with Malibu and Captain Morgan’s spiced rum, lengthened with mango and orange.

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This city-chic bar is designed with Birmingham’s suited and booted socialites in mind, from the dramatic striped floor to the ginormous classic clock face above the bar. Time is of the essence, and the folk behind Bar Opus know people want to spend their precious free time somewhere that counts. The menu changes seasonally: at the height of summer there might be fresh lemon juice and just-picked raspberries to jazz up drinks. On chilly winter nights, cranberry juice and orange liqueur add festive flavour.

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Golly. What would Robert Louis Stevenson say about this place? The purple sofas. The Alice in Wonderland wall art. Och, aye! This is just what I had in mind for Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. That’s what we assume, anyway. Plus, there really is no better place to enjoy a reasonably priced cocktail in Dickensian surroundings. Don’t miss Dr Jekyll’s upstairs gin parlour, where there are over 50 gins to try, many inspired by works of literature. Mr Stevenson would be ever so proud.

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If this pub were a bow, The Button Factory would have many strings. On the one hand, it’s a cracking restaurant and Sunday roast destination of choice, light streaming through huge industrial windows and a sunny roof terrace to boot. Come evening, the place transforms into a crowd-pleasing bar, attracting Jewellery Quarter residents and those further afield with a fabulous choice of cocktails and lively atmosphere.

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Smoked meat and bourbon specialist, Buffalo & Rye, from the creators of Island Bar and The Jekyll & Hyde, can be found on Bennetts Hill, home to some of Brum’s finest drinking establishments. As well as quality, locally sourced meats, it comes complete with a top-notch cocktail list that showcases our favourite combos. Creations like their Tennessee Peach Smash and Passion Rum Punch have us wanting to kick back on a porch in the deep south, watching the sun set as we sip.

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You’ll find Ginger’s sitting pretty in Purnell’s Bistro, owned by one of Birmingham’s most recognisable Michelin-starred chefs, Glynn Purnell. The vibe is classy without veering into stuffy, so you can quickly make yourself at home and watch the award-winning bartenders work their magic. Many of the cocktails are created from scratch or adapted from classics. Get there before 7pm to try one of five cocktails for just £5, including Ginger’s Mule and the Sicilian-inspired Andolini. Or if you’re feeling zesty, sip Glynn’s favourite: Scorched Lemon & Vanilla Margarita.

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Published -14th October 2019