Award winning Lichfield Gin is a real tonic for Selfridges, Birmingham.

Sometimes a Gin and tonic is the only thing that hits the spot (and I know it) after a long day and this gin is closer in mileage to Birmingham than you may think.

An exclusive gin brewed in Lichfield has landed at Selfridges Birmingham just in time for the weekend 🍸 and Christmas.

The Gin wowed judges in an international competition just five months after launching. Fifth Spire won a gold medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in April this year, is made by Greywood Distillery.

Best friends Tom Lindsey and Rory McKerrell registered the business in late 2015 after a few months of making gin as a hobby and set up one of the UK’s smallest micro-distilleries, eventually launching their gin in November last year.

Fifth Spire creates its uniquely flavoured gin using twin copper stills, one of which contains the main botanicals such as juniper berries, coriander seed, cassia bark, angelica root, orris root, liquorice root, pink peppercorns, almonds, and Seville orange peel.

The other is only used for fresh citrus fruits including lemons, limes and grapefruit. When combined, the result is a smooth spirit that has a classic gin base and waves of citrus notes.

Tom said: “To win a gold medal at such a prestigious international competition has really helped to launch our brand and within a month of winning that we were invited to Selfridges.

“We’re  still producing on a very small scale -just a few thousand bottles a year – and we’re thrilled that Birmingham is now the exclusive city centre stockist and we’re looking forward to introducing our premium brand to the department store’s discerning customers.”

Sam Watts, general manager of Selfridges Birmingham, said: “Gin has never been more popular and because our customers are always keen to try out new brands we’re always on the look-out for interesting new talent. Fifth Spire really impressed us and the fact that we’re able to support a local distiller is even better.”

In 2016, UK drinkers bought 40 million bottles of gin – 12% more than the previous year, outstripping sales of sparkling wine and beer. Artisan distilleries are also on the rise, with more than 130 in the UK, double the number from 2012.

Go on enjoy!


Big glass

Lots of ice

Wedge of pink grapefruit

Thanks for reading,

Andy 😊

Thanks to Clive Reeves PR for information and photo.


Paint and Wine craze comes to Park Regis Hotel in Birmingham.


I love art, well looking at it. The thought of painting, drawing and creating appeals to me, but the actual doing doesn’t yield good results. I’ve tried, but am too critical, hence the fact that I write poetry, it’s more me. But then maybe I haven’t found the right place to paint. With food and drink thrown into the mix, this sounds excellent for those like me that lack confidence or who struggled to be artistic at school. The thought of been artistic could be a reality. 

Thus Adding a splash of colour to your plonk is New York’s latest craze.’Paint & Wine Party’, hits Birmingham in September.

Park Regis Birmingham, a luxury, four-star hotel based at Five Ways will be mixing wine with paint at the unique event, where wannabe Da Vincis can get creative in a relaxed and fun environment.
Inspired by the increasingly popular trend in America, guests will follow a step-by-step painting guide provided by the teacher – although freestyling is encouraged – while enjoying wine and a ‘painter’s platter’ of canapes and nibbles at the same time.

Whether it’s your first time painting or an art enthusiast, guests of all abilities are welcome as the teacher talks through each brushstroke, splatter and blend to make sure your masterpiece – which can be taken home at the end – can be hung proudly at home.

Robin Ford, general manager at Park Regis Birmingham, said: “We can’t wait to bring the Paint & Wine craze, that has swept New York and more recently London, to the hotel. Whether you’re a seriously talented painter or an absolute beginner, everyone will be able to create a work of art to be proud of while enjoying a few glasses of wine and some delicious nibbles. If you’re thinking ‘I really can’t paint, I’d be terrible’, then you should definitely come along, you’d be surprised at what you could create.”

Park Regis Birmingham, will be hosting its ‘Wine & Paint Party’ on Saturday 10th September, 3-5pm. 

Tickets cost £35 and include all art materials, two glasses of wine and a painter’s platter. Veggie option available. 

Tickets are available from:

Thanks for reading, 

Andy 😊

Midlands most sustainable restaurant picks up green gong.


Opus at Cornwall Street has secured its place as the Midlands’ most sustainable independent restaurant with another award win. 

The 2AA Rosette restaurant won the ‘Best Greener and Healthier Lifestyles (Food) Scheme’ award at the ‘Making Birmingham Greener and Healthier Awards 2016’, an accolade from Birmingham’s Green Commissions to celebrate those businesses that are undertaking groundbreaking work with environment. 

Opus picked up the gong at a ceremony on Tuesday 5th July at Birmingham Council House, after it demonstrated a dedication to ethical food sourcing, educating schoolchildren on the importance of good nutrition, raising awareness of British suppliers and collaborating with other Birmingham businesses in an attempt to make the city greener. 
Praised for its passion for sustainability, 90% of Opus’ produce is sourced in Britain and much around the Midlands, in a bid to support the local economy and lower the restaurant’s carbon footprint. Menus are freshly-written each day, keeping food waste to a minimum.  
The restaurant was further commended for its approach to sharing knowledge on moral food sourcing through its unique ‘Source Dinner’ series, in which the restaurant connects the diner with its family of farmers and suppliers, allowing them to hear their compelling stories and see first-hand the passion put into raising their quality produce. 
Other initiatives that helped Opus pick up the award, included its work with the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts ‘Adopt a School’ charity programme and its ‘Opus in Conversation’ series. 

This year, Opus has ‘adopted’ St Clare’s Primary School in Handsworth to teach pupils the importance of food hygiene, healthy nutrition and how to prepare dishes. 
‘Opus in Conversation’ is a series of discussions on matters of importance to the city, which this month sees the restaurant campaigning to save the UK’s bee population following news that 35 species are under threat of extinction. 
Sarah Hepburn, sustainability champion at Opus at Cornwall Street, said: “Supporting sustainable, British food – as well as sharing our knowledge on ethical sourcing – is so important to the Opus family. We take our responsibility in making Birmingham greener incredibly seriously and we recognise that our actions, along with the influence we can have on others, can make a huge impact. Receiving this award from our own community is a fantastic achievement and is proof of our team’s passion and commitment to this cause.” 
Barbara Street, Professional Support Officer to the Sustainability Team at Birmingham City Council, said: “When selecting winners, we were looking at organisations that had gone that extra mile and had done something that is not in their normal line of business. We wanted to reward those whose projects had proven benefits to both people and the environment, could be an inspiration to others and have future ambitions to be even greener. Opus fitted this bill perfectly. 
“Not only did the restaurant win due to its ethical purchasing policy, but also because it had taken its food education outreach further by adopting a school and launching a scholarship programme for third year hospitality students at University College Birmingham.” 
This outstanding award from Birmingham’s Green Commission follows news that Opus Restaurants was named a ‘Three Star Sustainability Champion’ by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) – the most prestigious and highest possible rating a restaurant can achieve. From achieving its highest rating yet of 82%, the restaurant group is now in the top 9% of SRA members nationally.

Congratulations to Opus.

Thanks for reading, 

Andy 😊

Birmingham’s Green Commission is an advisory body to Birmingham City Council and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and works with people from a range of backgrounds – whether that be businesses, local authorities, researchers or voluntary organisations – in a bid to see Birmingham become of the greenest, most environmentally-friendly in the world. 

Local Drinks Market at The Bond Co, Digbeth, Birmingham, Saturday June 25th. 


 The Food and Drink Events Company and I Choose Birmingham are teaming up to promote fantastic local beverage producers at the Local Drinks Market this June. Quaffable goodies will come from within 50 miles of the city.

Hand-picked businesses will flock to The Bond Co on Saturday 25th to shake, pour and showcase their wares to the discerning drinkers of Birmingham. 

Visitors will be able to sample vodka, gin, ale and more. From established Birmingham favourites such as Langley’s Gin and Two Towers Brewery, plus Fixed Wheel Brewery, Twisted Barrel Ale, Indian Brewing Company, Shakespeare Distillary, Burleighs Gin, Cotswolds Distillary (for whisky, sherry and more)to new and boutique offerings from Jelley Distillaries, Sacre Bleue, and Cuffufle Preserves, and 40 St Paul’s, there is something for everyone to sip and enjoy.

As well as delicious drinks, the festival will offer attendees a unique day out. The award-winning Low ‘N’ Slow and The English Indian (who will be serving up their fantastic twist on fish’n’chips) will be on hand to slay visitors hunger throughout the event. 

Guests will also be able to enjoy the sounds of Glastonbury via local turntable superstar Tom Mason, who will be soundtracking the day with hits from this year’s festival. 

Worried about missing the big match? The football will be shown in it’s own room at the festival, so sports fans can sip on something delicious whilst catching all the action of the Euro’s live.

A number of brand new masterclasses are also on offer. Fancy a taste of the city’s most unique restaurant? The Wilderness will be serving up a feast for the senses with three matched drinks and dishes for just £18. If cocktails are more your thing, the award-winning James Bowker from The Edgbaston is joining the event to host a special session in “Low Octane Cocktails”, perfect for the summer. 

If you think your tastebuds are up to it, put them to the test with our “Supermarket Vs. Craft” gin session, led by Birmingham’s own Gintleman, Carl Hawkins. Taste through a selection of boutique and supermarket own brand gins and see which is your favourite!

This brand new event is a first for the city. Drink without guilt by supporting local businesses and having a big day out! 

Tickets for the Local Drinks Market are now on sale priced at just £15. For more information on the vendors and entertainment, head to the website.

For tickets:

Thanks for reading, 
Andy 😊

About I Choose Birmingham:

I Choose Birmingham is the award-winning creation of Birmingham-born writer and editor, Tom Cullen. I Choose Birmingham is a high-end magazine for men and women that’s emailed to its 12,000 readers once a week, bringing the very best things to do in and around this incredible city.

About Food and Drinks Company:

Is a creative events agency that designs and delivers irresistible events and experiences, connecting food & drink brands cleverly to the people they want to reach.

   Two Towers Ale. 


Opus takes the kitchen into the classroom as its revealed 60% of pupils can’t make salad. 


Once upon a time I was a young boy (yes I was one once, and a Villa Cub) and went to school. In fact, I want to school in Handsworth, in Birmingham, (yes of the riots before you shout it) to a boys school which has since been closed due to reasons why schools are closed down.

In all honesty after I joined secondary school I didn’t do any formal education in cookery, baking, or any other food related subject. Instead I was subjected to so called DIY subjects such  as woodwork, metal work and lots of sport.  Great for some boys but not the best if it doesn’t interest you.

Now I would have loved a professional chef teaching me how to cook though my Mum is very good and taught me well, this would have been my bread and butter so to speak, and shows how schools have changed over the years. 

It’s because of this that Opus at Cornwall Street has adopted a local Handsworth primary school to educate youngsters on food preparation, hygiene and nutrition as well as teach them the basic skills needed for the kitchen. 

Opus has so far been to the school twice to give lessons, with plans to give more lessons in the future. 

They took the kitchen into the classroom last month (MARCH) after it was revealed 60% of pupils don’t know how to make a salad. 

Research carried out last year by Future Foundation, a global consumer trends and insight firm, found 60% of children aged between 7 and 14-years-old didn’t know how to prepare a salad, with over a third admitting they had never chopped a vegetable. 

In a bid to tackle this issue, award-winning restaurant Opus at Cornwal Street is leading the way, and has ‘adopted’ St Clare’s Primary School in Handsworth – the only restaurant to do so in Birmingham as part of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts ‘Adopt a School’ charity programme. 
The initiative aims to tackle health issues and educate youngsters on food preparation, by sending hospitality professionals into schools to teach pupils about nutrition, hygiene, and healthy eating, as well as teaching them basic kitchen skills. 

Opus visited the school for the second time on Wednesday 23rd March with its executive chef, Ben Ternent, and sustainability champion, Sarah Hepburn. The duo delighted 60 Year 5 students with a lesson on how to chop, cut and slice different fruits and vegetables to make healthy, nutritious and tasty salads. 

Sarah said: “We wanted to adopt a local primary school because we think it’s crucial for children to develop an early relationship with food, understanding where it comes from, what fresh food tastes like and how to prepare meals for themselves. Cooking involves a lot of science, maths and creativity, so we think it’s important to get cooking back onto the primary school curriculum. We know that these lessons will increase the chances of pupils growing up healthily, caring about the source of their food, practicing food hygiene and table etiquette as well as being able to cook delicious meals for their family and themselves. 
“When Ben and I visited St Clare’s Primary School, we were so impressed with the excitement and enthusiasm the pupils had. Although 60 children in one morning may seem daunting, seeing them so eager in their chef hats was incredibly fulfilling, as well as teaching them basic kitchen skills which a lot of them admitted they had never done before.”
Sophie Killian, Year 5 class teacher at St Clare’s Primary School, said: “It’s been fantastic to have Opus in our classroom teaching these skills – the pupils have really enjoyed having them here and it’s great for them to try new things. They’ve learnt some vital chopping techniques and actually allowing the kids to wear the chef hats and aprons and act like proper chefs has been a lot of fun.”
Pupil Simran Sheemar, aged 9, said: “Although I sometimes cook at home, I don’t do it a lot. Chef Ben has taught me how to cut and chop and I can’t wait to go home and make this for my parents.” 
Opus Restaurant will teach a total of three lessons to St Clare’s Primary School throughout 2016, and pupils will also be visiting Opus’ kitchen. 

For more information on the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts ‘Adopt a School’ charity programme, visit:

For more information on Opus Restaurants, visit:

Now you know.

Thanks for reading,

Andy 😊

Veggie lunch watch: Chick pea and roasted pepper burrito, Met Bar, Solihull. 

Met Bar and Kitchen is located in Solihull town centre, just round the corner from Mell Square and a five minute walk from the Touchwood shopping centre. 

Split between bar and restaurant the Met Bar is open all day and has a light open feel that makes it a good venue for a light lunch in Solihull with good Vegetarian options which have had my recent input for Veggie Month. 

See here:

On a recent visit I ate a dish that I could quite happily eat again .The chick pea, Harissa and roasted pepper burrito, Served with dressed leaves and fries. 

 chick pea, Harissa and roasted pepper and soured cream burrito with fries and dressed leaves. 

Take chickpeas and blend them with the gently roasted peppers and add a touch of chilli heat ( I’d be happy with a bit more spicy heat) and you have a healthy, fragrant and filling lunchtime burrito that with the added naughty chips on the side gave it the thumbs up from me. It’s well made, and something you could emulate at home on the weekend and at £6.25 I think good value. Washed down with a pint or coffee it makes a super shopping stop off and a tasty and sufficiently interesting option for well rounded Vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Bravo! 

The Burrito is available Monday to Saturday until 6pm. 


Met Bar & Kitchen, Mell Square, Warwick Road, Solihull, B91 3DX. Open from 11am. 

0121-705 9495.


For details on Veggie Month see the link below:

Thanks for reading, 


The burrito and drinks were complimentary. My opinions and views are honest as always. 

Peat Free Freaks release: Birmingham Whisky Club last event of the year. 

My favourite kind of whisky is the Peaty variety found mainly around the Isle of Islay in Scotland. The smoky phenolic quality almost medicinal is the stuff to drink by a roaring fire listening to it reading a M.R James ghost story. The peaty character comes from burning peat under the barley before milling and mashing. The process makes for a indulgent rugged dram. 

The Birmingham Whisky Club, the city’s only whisky events company, is revving up the peat for it’s last event of the year, ‘Peat Freaks’. An evening showcasing a selection of peated whiskies from around the the world.

Peated whiskies are often considered to be the “Marmite” of the whisky world, so this is your chance to try an amazing lineup, develop your own palate and make up your mind. After the sell out success of ‘Peat Freaks Part Four’, join The Birmingham Whisky Club for an exciting evening of discussion, education and discovery as we venture to Islay and beyond.

Whether you’re a hardened peated whisky drinker or a newcomer to the genre, join local whisky expert Craig Mills on Thursday 26th November to learn more about the process, the history and taste through six specially selected whiskies at The Wellington. Get ready to try some limited releases, brand new offerings and firm favourites.

Amy Seton, founder of The Birmingham Whisky Club, comments: “Here are the Birmingham Whisky Club, we always look forward to this time of year. It’s one of the most exciting evenings in the whisky club calendar and always divides opinion and inspires debate. ‘Peat Freaks’ often inspires the most controversial debate amongst our community, but the fact we’ve had to put on a second date this year just proves it’s popularity amongst whisky novices and experts alike.”

Tickets for the event are priced at just £30 each (not including booking fee) for all whiskies and a guided tuition through the range. For more information (including the lineup for the evening) and to book a place, head to our ticket page. For other information and upcoming events, check out our social media sites:

Facebook/Birmingham Whisky Club. 

For information about The Birmingham Whisky Club please visit

The Birmingham Whisky Club is Birmingham’s only dedicated whisky tasting events company. We offer a diverse range of tutored tastings and whisky-themed events in and around Birmingham, including themed and rare whisky night’s, events with distilleries, whisky and food matching, and private and corporate events. We welcome everyone, from complete beginners to the more hardened whisky buff.  

Visit the webpage:


Thanks for reading

Andy 😊

All photos courtesy of The Birmingham Whisky Club. 

The Man and Myth pops up at Urban Coffee, Birmingham. 


After a few months of Nomad in Kings Heath there will now be a sister project and pop-up to tempt hungry punters. 

Nomad founder, Alex Claridge, alongside Chris Hughes (Kitchen School) and Thomas Harrison (previously head chef at The Drop Forge) are opening an honesty bar and experimental restaurant; The Man and the Myth will open Wednesday to Saturday (17:00 – late) at Urban Coffee Company on Church Street. RESERVATIONS HERE –

from September 2nd.

They will offer a pay what you feel option by the glass of wine or beer.

 All bottles will be priced – with all below £20. 

 To my knowledge this will be the first honesty bar for Birmingham if not the UK. Wines will be listed by flavour & taste – and no other details.

The food will be British-ish, using wild and allotment grown produce, but with eclectic influences from where ever they so fancy.

 It will be a stripped back, accessible and relaxed sort of place that would be good for hanging out in. 

 Bar Menu for veggies 

 BAR – 17 – Late 


British cheeses, buttermilk crackers, caramelised plums, pickles & smoked cheddar brûlée – £12


The best olives we could find – £3

 SUPPER – 18 – 21 hours 

for veggies. 

 Changing weekly, maybe more often. British-ish cooking with eclectic tendencies. Order what you like.

(v) – Yorkshire fettle, apple, hazelnut, spiced red cabbage 

Pumpkin, rose, blue cheese, enoki mushrooms (v) – £7 
Lavender & sake parfait, roast beetroot, honey, cinder toffee – £4 

There will be meat and fish on the menu too. 

There is a sort of taster menu with no frills- £30 per head. Inclusive of meat and fish. 

Unsure how veggies fit in here. 

*all subject to change and curve-balls from mother nature.

Nomad is due to re open in the City Centre in September/October. 

More Details to follow when I know them. 

Thanks for reading 

Andy 😊

Nomad reviews:;

Photo courtesy of Man and Myth. 

Nomad food. 

Hare and Hounds and Digbeth Dining Club Street Closure: Kings Heath. 


Street food innovators Digbeth Dining Club will be heading to Kings Heath and joining forces with the Hare and Hounds on Sunday 2nd August from 12-8pm for a street food closure on York Road. 

An array of culinary delights from Low N’ Slow, Caribou Poutine, Pietanic, Big Daddies Diner, The Meat Heads, Baked in Brick, Victoria Creperies and The English Indian. 

For Vegetarians try Pietanic for pies, Baked in Brick for pizza, Victoria Creperies for crepes and bakes, and The Engish Indian for curries and snacks. 

Accompanying the delicious eats will be a soundtrack provided by left foot DJ’s from the pub bar and the outside tables. 

Venue: Hare and Hounds, 

York Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham, B14 7JZ. 0121-444-2081.

Sunday 2nd August from 12pm-8pm. 

Baked in Brick pizza. 

Victoria Creperies 

And yes the weather forecast is good. 

Thanks for reading 

Andy 😊

On the 21st August Digbeth Dining Club will be 3 years old and will be celebrating with a huge street party of 16 food traders, yes 16. Stand by to eat like there’s no tomorrow. 

News on the traders later. 

Cafe Opus at Ikon to give taste of the Caribbean.

Something slightly different in this post for you. 

I’ve always loved art and photography. 

I’ve been familiar with Vanley Burke’s photography for many years. I grew up in Handsworth in inner city Birmingham and many of the photographs he takes and has took have been of that area and the areas surrounding it that I’m familiar with. 

His photos have captured the experiences of the African-Caribbean community’s arrival in Britain, the different landscapes and cultures he encountered. Seeing to counteract any perception of negative or stereotypical imagery of black people found in mainstream media. 

Born in Jamaica Vanley Burke came to England in 1965. His first notable exhibition was called ‘Handsworth from the inside’ and was held at the Ikon Gallery in 1983.

Cafe Opus is joining forces with the ‘Godfather of British Black photography’ to fuse art with food for a special event on Wednesday 22nd July 2015. 

Cafe Opus which is based at the Ikon Gallery on Oozells Street, is hosting a summer party to celebrate Vanley Burke’s latest exhibition, At Home With Vanley Burke, which will be shown at Ikon from 22nd July. 

To celebrate the launch, chefs from Cafe Opus will be dishing up some of Vanley’s favourite Caribbean inspired food, including his own secret recipe jerk chicken, as well as barbequed lamb and vegetarian pittas. 

Food and art fans will also be able to enjoy an exclusive cocktail, ‘The Vanley’, as well as live music from a steel band and reggae sound system Wassifa Showcase. 

The launch party is to honour Vanley’s latest exhibition, which will see the entire contents of his treasure cove home in Nechells, north-east Birmingham, transported to Ikon’s main exhibition space. The display will show how the normally ordinary is turned extraordinary in Vanley’s world, from an eclectic collection of posters, clothes and records, to unusual sculptures including a barbed wire gun and a jacket made entirely from pages of the Bible.

Speaking of the event, Irene Allan, director at Cafe Opus, said: “Vanley’s latest exhibition will be a real insight into his life, so what better way for fans to gain the full experience than to get a taste of his cooking style too. Working with Vanley to perfect his favourite dish, jerk chicken – which is delicious – has been a delight. We’ll even be serving Vanley’s favourite Ginger cake (suitable for vegetarians) on the night and throughout the exhibition.” 

Vanley’s Summer Party takes place on Wednesday 22nd July, from 8pm to 11pm at Cafe Opus at Ikon Gallery. 

To book tickets, please visit or call 0121 248 0708. Tickets cost £10 and include one free drink and one free dish. 

Please note Ikon’s At Home With Vanley Burke exhibition will not be open during the event. Visitors can view the exhibition on Wednesday 22nd July between 6pm to 8pm, or during Ikon’s normal opening times from Thursday 23rd July to Sunday 27th September.  


All photographs by Vanley’s Burke. 

Thanks for reading. 

Andy 😊