News: Birmingham Gin from Langleys hits Selfridges & Bar Opus

It’s no secret I’m a gin fan, and it’s nice to see the local chaps at the Langley Distillery have partnered with Selfridges and Bar Opus to make a Birmingham exclusive gin, named Birmingham Gin.

This London Dry Gin is carefully brewed with coriander, angelica root, liquorice and orange peel at the Langley Distillery in Birmingham. The chic bottle is decorated with copper foils dots, which are inspired by the iconic Selfridges discs and the 150-year old copper still in which the spirit is distilled, and is avilable exclusively at Selfridges Bullring for £44.99.

Bar Opus at One Snow Hill is now the first bar in town to be serving the Birmingham Gin. The expert booze technicians have created three bespoke Birmingham inspired cocktails to match this new flavour.

Brummie Mary 
Birmingham Gin, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, volcano salt, ground black pepper, sriracha sauce, fresh lemon
£6.50
Brumtini 
Birmingham Gin, dry vermouth, grapefruit bitters, grapefruit garnish
£6.50
Midlands Mojitio 
Birmingham Gin, fresh lime, sugar, mint, ginger ale
£6.50
Both Gin and Cocktails are available now.

NOTE: This is not a sponsored post or endorsement, just news of something happening in the food scene in and around Birmingham you might want to know about. Pictures supplied by Clive Reeves PR.

Colmore Food Festival 2017

It seems to be coming around quicker every year.

The Colmore Food Festival is one of the highlights of Wifey and I’s year. Bringing the cream of the Colmore BID‘s bars, restaurants and cafes in a showcase over a Friday and Saturday.

You can read previous years’ posts herehere and here.

My photography skills seem to have forgotten about anything but food and drink this year but it was a similar set up to last year, with the stage next to the Town Hall and a central seating area with the stalls looping around it.

Wifey and I went both days (of course!) and we tried a fairly decent selection, photos below:

Day 1

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My first dish of the day (prior to Wifey’s arrival) was the Slow Cooked Ox Cheeks from Purnell’s Restaurant accompanied with watercress puree, pickled shallots and wasabi crumble.

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Chicken Katsu Curry, breaded chicken, mild katsu curry sauce and sticky rice from the lovely chaps at Chung Ying Central.

We tried both dishes from Nosh & Quaff , usually found on their starters list, The Rib Tips (a very popular dish for the festival), deep fried lumps of pork belly tossed in their house BBQ sauce, and their Buffalo Wings, Free-Range Cotswold Chicken Wings with a smoked butter and Habanero sauce.

After that much food, it was time for a beverage so we popped over to the cocktail maestro from Purnell’s Bistro, Gary Anderson (on what we learnt was our last time getting a cocktail from him, prior to his move to The Meat Shack as their new GM). We had a Strawberry Feels, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Elderflower, Lemon, Apple & Mint, and Pineapple & Sage Daiquiri, Bacardi Rum, Lime, Pineapple, Sage & Pink Peppercorn.

And that was the end of Day 1

Day 2

After a fun day in the radio studio (for Geeky Brummie, it’s worth a listen, I promise!), it was time for more food and booze!

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First stop of the day was Opus  / Bar Opus Wifey had the Pork Belly with spiced cherries and I had a Parma Violet with gin, creme de violette, lemonade and parma crystals.

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Next it was time for our now traditional Colmore Food Festival must-have from Jojolapa, the Momo’s (chicken dumplings).

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My next stop was Gaucho and their Beef Empanada and (not pictured) Vacio (bavette) steak which came accompanied with Humita Saltena (creamed sweetcorn).

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Then it was a return to Purnell’s Bistro, and another Strawberry Feels, Bombay Sapphire Gin, Elderflower, Lemon, Apple & Mint, the third variety of cocktail we had was their Summer Lovin with Grey Goose Vodka Peach, cranberry, Orange and Lime.

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Wifey also popped to Purnell’s Restaurant, with the Ox Cheek swapped out for Beef Blade accompanied by watercress puree, pickled shallots and wasabi crumble.

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There was also time for a bit of Dim Sum, from Chung Ying Central.

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The final dish of the day was Black Forest Cake from The Bureau, and some Tom Collins from The Jekyll & Hyde (not pictured) we were pretty much done for the year. and with that, it’s on until waiting for 2018’s Food Festival!

When: 30/06/2017 – 01/07/2017

Where: Victoria Square, Birmingham City Centre

Who: Colmore Business DistrictPurnell’s Bistro / Ginger’s BarChung Ying CentralNosh & Quaff, OpusBar OpusJojolapaGauchoThe Bureau and The Jekyll & Hyde

 

New Cocktail Menu at Bar Opus

I’m no stranger to the Opus group (you can read about previous experiences here, here, here, and here). So I was very happy when they invited me down to try out their new cocktail menu at Bar Opus.

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Situated just past Colmore Row, nestled next to Snowhill Train Station, the bar has become a firm fave with the CBD crowd with a modern interior.

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We were going to be looking at 12 new cocktails over the evening, with a demonstration of the preparation for each drink and a taster so we could capture the flavour.

Our first cocktail of the evening was a Milk Punch. Created with Makers Mark, Kraken Rum, Vanilla Syrup, Half and Half with a dash of nutmeg. The rich creamy drink definitely had a Christmassy feel to it, with the dash of nutmeg.

Next up was the Hereford Scrambler. Consisting of Chase Rhubarb Vodka, Chase Blackcurrant Liqueur, lime, lemon and soda.  As you can expect from the Rhubarb Vodka, this was a very tart little number full of autumnal flavour, the blackberry kick giving it a sweet aftertaste.

Next was a drink named The Clover Club; this had Martin Miller’s Gin, Nolly Prat Vermouth, lemon juice, raspberries and an egg. This was a sweet fruity drink, which had the vermouth come through to warm the insides.

Next up up was a Pear and Cardamom Sidecar, with Xante Pear brandy, Cointreau, lemon and cardamom. This smelled like a big bag of peardrop sweets and the cardamom tingled the back of the throat.

Next was the Ginger Bellini. A simple combination of Ginger Liqueur, Ginger syrup and Prosecco. This worked really well and I’m surprised I’ve not seen it more often! Warm, spicy and sweet, I can see this being a hit on a chilly autumnal evening!

After a few snacks, it was on to the second half of the tasting.

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The second half began with Beggars Banquet made with Makers Mark, Agnostura Bitters, Peaky Blinder’s Ale, maple syrup and lemon. The bitters and syrup gave it a nice mulled flavour and reminded me of a nice Christmas Market.

We moved onto a Cowboy Hoof Martini made with London Dry Gin, Orange Bitters, mint and syrup; a very minty cocktail with a rich sweetness.

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Continuing our Cocktail Crawl was a Missionary’s Downfall, consisting of White Rum, Peach Liqueur, lime juice, syrup and lemon. This had a citrus punch with the sweetness of the pineapple and peach coming through and was the most ‘summery’ of the cocktails we had that evening.

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Next, a Port Cobbler. The cobbler can probably lay a good claim to being one of the oldest cocktails in the world and this was an interesting twist. Combining Monkey Shoulder Whisky, Grand Marnier, Port, lemon and syrup, this reminded me of a boiled sweet with a rich, velvety flavour which slipped down nicely.

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Next was a slice of the Caribbean in the shape of the Old Kokonut. Made with Koko Kanu Rum, Prosecco, Agnostura Bitters, mint, lime and syrup. This reminded me a touch of a more elegant version of a Malibu Bellini and would work nicely on a beach with a few palms in the background.

The final cocktail (I got a picture of) was an Opus Manhattan. A signature twist on an Old Faithful, this was made with Nikka Whisky, Sweet Vermouth, Japanese Plum Liqueur, Angostura Bitters and mulled spices.  It was my favourite of the evening, being the whisky fan that I am, with rich deep plummy notes complementing the high notes of the bitters and spices.

 

The final cocktail for the evening was an English Collins, combining Martin Millers Gin, Elderflower Liqueur,  lemon juice, cucumber and soda water. Very refreshing and a great way to finish off the evening.

If you’re in the CBD and looking for a cocktail, there’s enough variety in flavour on the list to suit anyone’s palate and in great surroundings too!

Disclaimer: For this event, I was a guest of Bar Opus and Clive Reeves PR who provided all food and drinks; this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

When: 14/09/2016

Where: Bar Opus at One Snowhill

Who:  Bar Opus, Opus Group

 

Choc-A-Block at Colmore Food Festival

Has it really been a year since the last food festival? Time flies fast in the second city!

The Colmore Food Festival is one of the highlights of Wifey and I’s year. Bringing the cream of the Colmore BID‘s bars, restaurants and cafes in a showcase over two days.

You can read last years posts here and here.

This year the stage had moved to the side of the Town Hall, giving wider avenues to progress down and choose your particular solid or liquid treat, a very sensible move. In the centre, there was a garden with seating hosted by The Opus Family (more on them later).

Wifey and I visited 3 times over the weekend, Friday lunch, Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, but still didn’t get around to trying half of it!

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First stop was the marvellous Gary of Gingers Bar (located in Purnell’s Bistro). With a whisk of his magic fingers, 2 non-alcoholic cocktails were presented to us of G2O, a blend of Orange, Passion-fruit and Lime. This was a perfect refresher and helped with the brisk walk we both had from the other end of Colmore Row in the summer sun.

After slaking our thirst, we popped into the Opus Garden for a spot of lunch via Opus at Cornwall Street. Wifey and I both had an Opus classic: this was a Lincolnshire Leek and Haddock Fishcake, topped with a Poached Egg and butter sauce.

I’m not normally a leek fan but this was great with the haddock. The poached egg was perfect with a rich golden yolk.

Then, it was back to the office for a few more hours until the freedom of the weekend.

For our return, it was straight to Purnell’s Restaurant, always a firm favourite at the Food Festival. We were glad we got in when we did as they sold out pretty sharpish afterwards.

We went for the Pork Belly, accompanied by Pickled Pineapple, Black Pepper and Pork Crumble. We were impressed by crispy, crumbly, spicy pork belly accompanied  with the sweet sharp tang of pickled pineapple. I’m now sad to be waiting another year before seeing what they cook up next year!

Next stop was to an old favourite, The Jekyll & Hyde, serving a wide selection of gin based beverages. We went for a portion of Dr Jekyll’s Fruit Punch, it definitely packed one and was very moreish.

A few stalls away was Asha’s for a Lamb Saffron Biryani, this Lamb Biryani is cooked with three year mature basmati rice, green cardamom, saffron and cloves, served  with poppadoms, raita and gravy. As expected from one of Birmingham’s most renowned restaurants, very moreish and didn’t last long between Wifey and I.

Next, a break from the food, Seekasaurus was in attendance at the food festival with lots of coloured Dino’s lurking about the stalls and one midway up a lamppost. Wifey and Laura from Full to the Brum went for an explore whilst I popped back to Gingers Bar for another quick beverage.

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This was a Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri Slushie, deliciously sweet and boozy.

That about wraps it up for Friday evening.

After compèring the hour of radio that is The Geeky Brummie Show on BrumRadio.com,it was time for visit number 3 for lunch and maybe some more alcohol!

First stop of the day was Jake’s Coffee Box, it’s  great to see an independent as good as Jake’s get to showcase themselves like this, and it’s at the heart of what the Festival is designed to be.

We chose one of Jake’s Picnic boxes, the first being the Savoury Box, with 2 Mini Gourmet Sausage Rolls (Pork, Shropshire Blue & Caramelised Onion, Pork Leek & Sage), accompanied by a homemade Scotch Egg, Rocket Salad, Cherry tomatoes and Black Pudding Crumb. The sausage rolls were delicious especially the caramelised onion one, which Wifey was particularly fond of. The Scotch Egg was also  great with a smooth creamy yolk and a hard albumen.

We also saw the Sweet Box, this contained a Triple Chocolate Brownie, Strawberries, Raspberries and Clotted Cream.

Next stop was booze! And a return to the Opus Garden. We were on the flip-side this time and visiting Bar Opus.

I chose a Marmalade Frozen Kalippo, which was Chase Marmalade Vodka, Lemon Juice, Orange Juice and a touch of Rosemary. Wifey chose The Great Chase, which was Chase Vodka, Chase Elder-flower Liqueur, Lemon Juice and Soda.

After that bit of booze, we made ourselves comfy in the deckchairs and watched a cooking demo by Jojolapa and hosted by Phil Oldershaw.

After that, Wifey couldn’t resist getting a portion of Momo’s, which nice and doughy and packed full of delicate chicken. They were accompanied by spicy rich tomato sauce.

Finishing off with another pair of cocktails from Gingers Bar (of course), it was time to bid a fond farewell to The Food Festival for another year!

When:08/07/2016 – 09/07/2016

Where: Victoria Square, Birmingham City Centre

Who: Colmore Business DistrictPurnell’s Bistro / Ginger’s BarOpus @ Cornwall StreetJojolapaPurnell’sThe Jekyll & Hyde,  Jake’s Coffee Box & Bar Opus at One Snowhill

 

Magno Opus Nocte -Friday Nights as Opus – Cornwall Street

I’ve been to Bar Opus and Cafe Opus on a multitude of occasions but this was my first ever visit to the big brother, Opus itself, a stalwart of the Birmingham food scene for over a decade. Ran by Ann Tonks, Irene Allan, with exec chef Ben Ternent conducting the kitchen.

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I was actually surprised how spacious the restaurant was. Looking from the road, it seems a nice cosy space but the restaurant continues like a Narnian wardrobe taking you further back.  Proceeding by the wine wall, bar area and private dining rooms and into the kitchen sits the wonderful chef’s table.

 

To highlight their focus on sustainability and fresh seasonal and, most importantly British cuisine, they have launched a special Friday evening menu over spring and summer.

From 6pm each Friday evening, a special market inspired menu is available for £25 p.p. including home baked bread, a starter and main or main and dessert and a half bottle of house red or rose.

Prior to our taster of the menu, we had a talk from Ben about how Opus plans their menu, sourcing the best suppliers (Aubrey Allen for example) and making sure their food is sustainable, as locally sourced as practical, and seasonal. Opus is very proud of their 3 star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association and is Birmingham’s most sustainable restaurant.

The kitchen was surprisingly quiet, for those of us who’ve watched films like “Burnt” and “Chef”, expecting much shouting and banging. Instead, the kitchen exudes serenity and calm with a feeling things were very much under control. Our visit over, we sat down and sampled some of the amazing homemade bread and I plumped for a glass of red:

 

Onto the menu:

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I chose to try a starter and main. For starters, the goats cheese, tomato and radish salad:

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The dish represented spring on a plate. The goats cheese provided a good hit of cheesy richness and the salad (with edible flowers) was wonderful and light, awakening the tastebuds with zing and bite.

Next door David Massey of#Brumhour / Dave the Buffet Slayer was chowing down on the tomato soup. From the sounds of it, the tomato soup was equally as impressive as the salad.

For the main, I picked was the Suffolk Pork Cutlet:

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The pork cutlet was cooked to perfection, and it was nice to see a cutlet rather than a fillet. The mustard mash was equally as nice, providing a nice heat to the creamy mash. The other mains were equally as impressive.

Finally was the dessert, which I looked on with small envy as I was already stuffed!

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The winner of the desserts was the peanut and caramel delice. It was beautifully presented, and I heard many groans of enjoyment from those who had chosen to go for the pudding end of the spectrum.

For those looking for a great meal and to relax after a busy week in the office, I couldn’t think of a better place to enjoy a bit of British excellence in a varied and reasonable menu.  They’ve also got some fun events coming up too!

 

Disclaimer: For this event, I was a guest of Opus and Clive Reeves PR who provided all food and drinks; this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

 

When: 13/05/2016

Where: Opus at Cornwall Street, 54 Cornwall Street, Birmingham, B3 2DE

Who:  Opus at Cornwall Street, Opus Group

 

Texan Tasting – Low ‘n’ Slow @ Bar Opus, a menu inspired by travel

Before you start, no, this isn’t a repeat of my Magnum Meat post (read it here), this is more of a part 2.

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It’s been just over 6 months since I had the pleasure of visiting one of Low ‘n’ Slow’s takeovers at Bar Opus and since then, Andy and Donna (head honchos) had a trip over to the good ole USA and came back with some ideas for tasty food…

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Now into his third year on the Birmingham street food scene, Andy has popped up at a few venues over the past few months including Brewdog and Hare & Hounds. This one was a little bit special and sold out quickly.

Wifey again couldn’t attend; luckily an old friend managed to find space in his belly to join me! We also had a lovely surprise having Vicky from brumderland on our table, accompanied by the March Hare.

Whilst we chin-wagged over a few pints of Opus Lager, our first course of Barbacoa Ox Cheek with Grits

The grits were stunning! Like a comforting savoury corn porridge and warmed from the feet up. The ox cheek melted away in the mouth with the pico de gallo adding a beautiful piquancy to the dish. I was tempted to lick the bowl but managed to resist.

The next course was a triple plate of Oak smoked Black Angus Brisket, Jalapeno Cheddar Hotlinks and baby back ribs, accompanied with BBQ Beans, Jalapeno & Bacon Potato Salad and Lemon Vinegar Slaw.

 

The brisket had the delicate woodiness of the oak permeating through. The baby back ribs were plump and meaty with a beautiful flavour, a low burn coming through afterwards. The star of the show was the Hot Links. A nice taut skin stuffed with juicy meat and spice with a gooey cheesy high note, absolutely delicious!

The fixings we great too: a glossy crunchy slaw with a zingy bite, sweet BBQ beans with the savoury meatiness of the oxtail a hit of umami . The potato salad was sweet and smokey and reminded me slightly of coronation chicken in it’s colour!

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Whilst fetching more beers, I stumbled upon the special drink for the evening! I didn’t partake as I had work the following morning but I was sorely tempted to see what it was like.

Back with more beers and a blended Mojito from Bar Opus’s excellent cocktail menu (you can read about some of those here too!), it was time for pudding. A slice of Pecan Pie with Chantilly Cream:

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This was A-maz-ing! A delicious thin crust, a nice sticky sweet pie laced with a touch of bourbon and sweet light whipped cream. It was definitely sweet and sticky enough to knock my socks off, I was even tempted to see if I could bag a second slice.

Oh well, I will just have to wait until next time…

When: 10/03/2016

Where: Bar Opus at One Snowhill

Who:  Andy Low’n’ Slow

 

Beverage Objective – Cocktail Masterclass at Bar Opus

As I was snapping outside, the tram whistled passed. Though I work pretty much opposite Bar Opus, I’m still not used to them coming past! After bumping into David Massey of #Brumhour / Dave the Buffet Slayer outside, we wandered into the swanky Colmore Business District venue.

I’m happy to report the Metro hasn’t changed the ambiance of the place at all, from entering the building I forgot it even came past on the way to Bull Street. The airy tall windowed venue tucked under One Snow Hill gives plenty of light and really let the venue shine, even on a wintery Saturday.

I’ve popped into Bar Opus a few times for lunch and after work drinks. They do regular events too, including hosting Andy Low’n’Slow which I stopped by last year.

Anyway, back to the important thing, alcohol!

The teams at Bar Opus and Clive Reeves PR kindly invited myself and a few others from the Birmingham blogging community to sample their new cocktail masterclass. Sam and Tim welcomed us in and got us all into a ring of tables around a central demonstration area (there’s a reason why, which I’ll come to later). This partnered me up with the wonderful Laura Creaven of the award winning ‘Full to the Brum‘  blog. I snapped a few pics before getting around to spilling everything!

The reason for the ring of tables was that we were also having a little competition to be crowned queen or king of the masterclass, and participating in a classier variation of the ‘Ring of Fire’ student drinking game. Activities included word association, contributing to a bespoke cocktail, how many grapes can you fit in your mouth and in my case, reciting a William Shatner spoken word style version of ‘Like a Virgin’. I wouldn’t want to inflict my singing on my worst enemy, it’s equivalent to Vogon Poetry.

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Our first cocktail was a Mellow Yellow consisting of:

  • 25 ml Limoncello
  • 12.5 ml Chase Great British Gin (Yes, I was surprised they do things other than vodka too!)
  • 12.5 ml Sugar Syrup
  • 12.5 ml Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Topped with San Pellegrino lemonade

We paid attention whilst Tim walked us through the steps and showed us the correct order for the ingredients. Despite a small spillage of sugar syrup on my behalf, I must say I didn’t do too bad! The cocktail tasted great, like an alcoholic lemon sherbert sweet. I think that’s more down to the high quality of the ingredients rather than my handiwork!

The ‘Ring of Fire’ went round again and our bespoke cocktail started taking shape from the varied ingredients:

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Our second cocktail was the Chase Me:

  • 50 ml Chase Rhubarb Vodka
  • 25 ml Monin Vanilla Syrup
  • 12.5 ml Lemon Juice
  • 75 ml Apple Juice
  • Shaken and strained

Tim, again, masterfully took us through the steps this time including the correct usage of a cocktail shaker! It was my first time using one and I managed not to make a giant fist of it either. I was doing well for a change.

 

Whilst we were making and shaking, another ‘Ring of Fire’ happened and Ting of The Ting Thing had to take a silly selfie which I wouldn’t be evil to  link to directly would I?

Chloe of Gastronomic Gorman won the Queen of the Cocktail Masterclass award for her cocktail making skills.

Whilst Vicky of Brumderland had the (mis)fortune of winning our bespoke cocktail, which ended up a Christmassy gingerbread chocolate and orange treat!

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Another treat awaited us. The Bar Opus team laid on a beautiful Afternoon Tea of finger sandwiches, cakes, scones & clotted cream and fresh fruit preserves to enjoy.

This was accompanied by three Floozy in the Jacuzzi cocktails from Sam’s Sharing cocktails consisting of:

  • A WHOLE bottle of prosecco
  • Rhubarb and Rosehip
  • Chase Marmalade
  • Lemon

Alev from Bella and Robot blog, Vicky and I all had a few sips:

It was a great way to be introduced into cocktail making and I’d recommend it for something to do in the city for a birthday or classy hen do! You could pair it up with their Brunch Menu or Afternoon Tea (prices start from £15pp with unlimited tea up to £18.50pp with Prosecco).

Amateur mixologists are being given the opportunity to learn how to create mouthwatering cocktails with an intimate masterclass at Bar Opus at One Snowhill. Bar Manager Sam Cross and his team will teach how to mix, shake and stir drinks from the ordinary into the extraordinary. Classes are one hour and cost £15 per person. To book, call 0121 289 3939 or via find more info on their website here.

Disclaimer: For this event, I was a guest of Bar Opus and Clive Reeves PR who provided all food and drinks; this provides no bias to the post. This blog is my own personal opinion and strives to provide an independent view, promoting, enjoying and reviewing the range of exciting food and venues in and around Birmingham.

 

When: 16/01/2016

Where: Bar Opus at One Snowhill

Who:  Bar Opus, Opus Group

Magnum Meat – Andy Low & Slow takeover at Bar Opus

After a hard week at work, my craving for sustenance meant a Friday afternoon trip out. The Opus Group (previously reviewed, as part of my CBD article), have let a local food favourite, Andy Low ‘n’ Slow take over the kitchen at Bar Opus at One Snowhill (tucked behind Doddle) on Fridays.

Great food in a nice bar, less than 5 mins from the office? Sounds good to me!

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