Rob Wood is one of my favourite Brummie Cocktail Construction maestros with a passionate attention to detail and a focus on curious taste collaborations with a twist so it’s great to hear he’s working with The Plough on their new cocktail highball menu…
The Plough in Harborne has launched a cocktail list in collaboration with Robert Wood, one of the best bartenders in the UK. Taking in seven carefully curated highballs, the drinks are made fresh in-house and have been designed to take no longer to make than a spirit and mixer.
The list which will be takes in ubiquitous ingredients alongside lesser-known flavours. The Coconut & Ginger highball contains Coconut rum, Yuzu (a Japanese fruit) and root ginger beer whilst the Elderflower & Pink Grapefruit highball contains pink peppercorn.
Robert Wood, who is a former Drinks International Bartender of the Year and Cocktail Challenge ‘Supreme Champion’, said, “Everything The Plough does has a unique twist and I wanted to maintain that theme with the development of the cocktail list. It was important that we created cocktails that people would be happy to try in a pub setting and imperative that they could be served as quickly as possible without scrimping on quality or flavour. We worked closely together to develop a list that was accessible whilst pushing boundaries. The result is a selection of really great cocktails that can be made in under 30 seconds.”
James Thewlis, Development Manager at The Plough, said, “When we began considering the introduction of a cocktail list at The Plough there was only one name that sprung to mind. We knew that Robert would be able to develop a list that was innovative yet relevant to our customers. The list complements our offer perfectly; the drinks are so fast to build yet fresh and the response we’ve had so far has been fantastic.”
The list of Highballs available:
RASPBERRY & HIBISCUS – Hibiscus vodka/framboise/cream soda
BLACKCURRANT & GARDENIA – Gardenia gin/cassis/oolong soda
GREEN APPLE & MATCHA – Apple liqueur/fino sherry/green tea soda
JAPANESE PLUM & CHERRY BLOSSOM – Jinzu gin/umeshu/cherry blossom
Regular readers will be aware I’m a whisk(e)y aficionado. What you might not know is Jack Daniel’s is a whiskey, not a bourbon; it could be a bourbon if it wanted to be but it’s not. It’s a regular bourbon until it enters their charcoal filtering method and then, it’s described as a ‘Tennessee Sipping Whiskey’or a Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey, if you look closely on the label.
Another thing you may not be aware of is that the month of September is Jack Daniel’s Birthday, as his exact birthday is not known. Instead of picking an arbitrary date, the month of September does just fine apparently; even the man himself comes back to celebrate according to the sign!
In celebration of this, a couple of friends and I had the chance to visit The Meeting Place at The Rainbow Venues in Digbeth to raise a glass.
To celebrate in style, they had the entire three floors transformed into an old style Western Saloon with panelled walls neon signs and barrel tables to give the whole venue a real American feel. I was really impressed with the effort put into it especially with the food stalls upstairs (more on that shortly).
First stop, of course, was the bar. I mean, you can’t celebrate Jack Daniel’s without some in your hand, can you? With master cocktail maker Rob Wood (creator of Smultronstalle) behind the bar too, there is really no excuse either!
The cocktail list was extensive and covered a few the other Jack Daniels offerings rather than the usual Old No. 7:
Double Jack & Cola Does what it says on the tin and a classic. Jack Daniel’s & Cola
Frozen Jack & Cola For those wanting an icy take on the above (also now an aspirational item for me to have, an alcohol slush machine)
Apple Jack Jack Daniel’s and Apple Juice – something I’ve never tried before but really nice as a sipping cocktail.
Lynchburg Lemonade Jack Daniel’s, Triple Sec and Lemonade, a nice fresh, citrus bursting alternative to a Jack & Cola.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Cider A new drink from the minds behind Jack Daniel’s. This is a crisp Apple Cider blended with Jack Daniels Old No. 7. The general consensus was we were not big fans.
Tennesee Cooler Jack Daniel’s Honey, Apple Juice and Ginger Ale. Now, this is going on the cocktail rotation at BG Towers; sweet, sharp and spicy all in one go. A winning combination in our group.
Red Dog Smash Jack Daniel’s Ltd Edition Red Dog Saloon Whiskey, Herbal Liqueur, Lemon Juice and Apricot Jam. This wasn’t one I tried but one of my friends tried it, and he much preferred the Cooler as this was a touch too herbal for him.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire Shot Jack Daniel’s Red Hot Cinnamon Liqueur – described as smooth Jack with a fiery finish, and I’d agree wholeheartedly with that.
We needed something to soak up all this alcohol so it was time to hit the rooftop garden for some of Brum’s best street food.
For food, they’d laid on The Flying Cows and Low ‘N’ Slow stalwarts of the local food scene. I’ve written about Andy a few times now and then. The food choices sounded mouthwatering, both with a Jack Daniel’s twist:
The Flying Cows
Steak Burger, Jack Daniel’s Glazed Smoked Bacon, Monterey Jack Cheese, Lettuce & Red Onion
Steak Burger, Jack Daniel’s Pulled Pork, Swiss Cheese, Red Onions & Lettuce
Veggie Burger, Halloumi Cheese, Jack Daniel’s Red Onion Chutney
Wild Cherry Smoked Baby Back Ribs with Sweet Heat Glaze (1/2 Rack).
I was sorely tempted by the Baby Back Ribs but I wasn’t appropriately dressed for a rib feast! Instead, I went for the Pork Shoulder Bun and I wasn’t disappointed. The meat was what I’ve come to expect from Low ‘n’ Slow with Andy and Donna pulling off a master work in slow cooked meat. Sweet with just enough tang from the lemon herb slaw to balance the sweetness from the BBQ sauce.
After devouring the burger, it was time for a trip to Lynchburg for a wander around the distillery through the magic of VR. It was very impressive and a great way to see the process without having to fly to the States.
Back to the bar and time for some music. We were treated to two of Birmingham’s best local bands, The Americas and Broken Witt Rebels who gave barnstorming sets to end the night.
Disclaimer: For this visit, I was a guest of Jack Daniels UK and Euology PR, who provided all food, most of the drinks and some natty merch in the shape of a bandana and a few lanyards; 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.
Curry is a funny thing for us Brummies. We like to think we know a thing or two about one of the world’s most favourite dishes, and even have our own style to differentiate from other curry hot spots with the Balti.
I mean, we love a “Birmingham Balti” so much the Birmingham Balti Association (BBA) tried to protect the term back in 2015.
Travelodge, asked me to find out more about this culinary classic on their behalf, so Wifey and I left the city centre and travelled the short distance to the heart of the Balti Triangle.
And where else could we go but the place which claims to have invented the dish. Adil’s say they brought the dish to the UK, opening on Stoney Lane in 1977 and, after a brief spell on Ladypool Road, is back at home in the epicentre of the Balti Triangle fully refurbished and sticking with their blend of fresh Kashmiri cuisine and Balti’s abound.
The interior is light (much lighter than the pictures show above!). We popped in just after opening on Sunday and they were already busy with takeaway drivers flying in and out.
Prior to having a thorough read of the menu, we were supplied with poppadoms and a rainbow of sauces, Mint Yoghurt (white sauce, sweet, cooling), Chilli Chutney (orange sauce, mild, tomato tang, sweet), Coriander & Green Chilli Sauce (the verdant green one, our favourite, sweet and tangy with a spicy after-kick) and their Hot Sauce (well balanced on spice and delicious).
To balance out those hot sauces, we had some Mango Lassi. One of the most popular drinks on the sub continent of India and a blend of yoghurt and milk with fruit, if requested. The other choices were Strawberry, Sweet and Salty. Ours was icy cold, thick and not overly sweet; the perfect partner for spicy food.
The menu (available here) is comprehensive with a wide variety of starters, rice and naans, and even the choice to make your own Balti from a selection of 10 meats or vegetables, 10 sauces and 14 extras giving a mind-boggling 1400 combinations!
For starters, we couldn’t choose so we plumped for the Meat Platter with pretty much all of them on. Lamb Seikh Kebab, Chicken Seikh, Chicken Tikka, Lamb Tikka & Chicken Wings were all served on a sizzling platter with onions.
The platter was much bigger than expected and would be enough for three persons rather than just the two of us!
Lamb Sheikh – A good and chunky lamb mince laced through with coriander and gave a solid umami taste
Chicken Sheikh – Something a little different for Wifey and I, who stick to the traditional lamb version, this was a nice suprise. It had little flecks of chilli running through, adding a nice spice without overwhelming the mouth.
Chicken Wings – These slid right off the bone whilst being crispy on the outside, seemingly by using wizardry.
Lamb Tikka – These were thickly coated in a Tikka coating, a good and chunky size.
Chicken Tikka – My favourite starter, soft, beautiful, sweet and smoky and an aroma to intoxicate the nose.
It was a hearty portion, plenty enough to share and available for 2 or 4 depending on hunger levels.
After a short rest, it was onto our mains. We decided to go with Chef Specials rather than picking our own, to see what the creative minds in the kitchen get up to.
I chose Balti Tikka E Khaas (combination of Chicken Tikka, Lamb Tikka, Chicken Kebab, mince & peppers cooked in a Balti sauce) mainly as it had more of that wondrous Chicken Tikka in it. Wifey chose the Balti Makhan Chicken (diced pieces of Chicken breast cooked with butter, methi & almond powder) as she’s not a fan of anything spicier than a paprika crisp!
For sides we chose Pilau Rice and a Medium Naan, listed on the menu as suitable for 2-3 persons.
Before we get onto the mains, that MEDIUM Naan, which took up the length of the table. They have an even bigger Table Naan option, which I can only imagine is dragged in on a heard of oxen or can be used as a makeshift sled! The naan itself was delicious and made with a stronger flour than I usually experience, giving it a slightly salty edge. The pilau rice was neon yellow in colour and well cooked, not a sticky grain in sight.
My Balti Tikka E Khaas was in a thicker Balti sauce than normal, having been laced with a rich spicy meat. The chunky bell peppers added depth and colour, and the big pieces of meat each added their own character to the dish. Wifey’s Balti Makhan Chicken, was reported back as rich and tender to the point of melting in her mouth with a rich, but light, creamy sauce.
There was so much food we couldn’t actually finish it, and the remainders came home with us nicely packaged in takeaway boxes. Dessert menus were offered but politely declined to ensure buttons didn’t fly across the room.
It won’t be our last visit to the new look Adil’s and we’re already planning who to take along next time.
If you’re planning a trip the Balti Triangle and Adil’s there’s at least three Travelodge options nearby.
It’s well served by public transport with the 3 bus and 34 bus stopping right outside, and the inner circle (8 bus) a few minutes walk away. There’s also handy off street parking nearby if you’re driving too!
Disclaimer: For this visit, Travelodge paid for my meal but all views remain my own or Wifey’s. The restaurant manager didn’t know why Wifey and I had cameras in hand and asked us on the way out if we were there for a certain review website.
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.
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