Where to drink – SPIRIT WORLD: The brainchild of Matt Scriven, the man behind quirky pub group Bitters ‘n’ Twisted, The Jekyll and Hyde feels like the setting for a good old-fashioned melodrama. ‘It’s all about spending time sourcing interesting bits and pieces,’ says Scriven. The downstairs bar feels vaguely decadent, in a Hammer House of Horror sort of way, but the real fun begins upstairs in the Victorian Gin Parlour. A barmaid who looks like Cruella de Vil served the best G&T I’ve ever tasted (Martin Miller’s distilled in nearby Langley) and gave me a beginner’s guide to gin. *We have a resident ghost.’ she warned. There have been sightings.’ After a few drinks, I believed her.
EASY DOES IT: Adam Johnson started out managing record shops and nightclubs before deciding what he really wanted was to run his own local. The Plough Harborne is that rare and useful thing: a busy pub where you feel like a regular, even if you’ve only been here a few times. The industrial look is contrasted with playful touches: Star Wars figurines; jars of sweets above the bar. Craft ale is the local brew, although lots of customers drop in for coffee and food (the cooked breakfast is delicious). But this isn’t a fancy gastropub, simply a great pub with smashing grub.
PRETTY AS A PITCHER: Another Bitters ‘n’ Twisted creation, in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter, the Grade Il-listed Rose Villa Tavern could be the most beautiful boozer in Britain. A kaleidoscope of stained glass and antique tiles, it’s been lovingly renovated: the parquet floor was underneath the old carpet all along. Real ale (try the Butty Bach from Wye Valley) and cocktails are the speciality. Grab one of the big leather chairs in the snug, sit back and watch Birmingham go by.