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BOOMTOWN: BRUM'S NEW OPENINGS

From the most authentic tapas we've tasted in Brum to smoke-emitting cocktails, the city is beset by a glorious array of new launches. And in a celestial victory lap of an issue, we've put together a round-up of the last month's most worthy openings.
WHO: EL BORRACHO DE ORO WHERE: HARBORNE COURT, EDGBASTON
WHY: Years of experience across the kitchens of Madrid and Santiago de Compostela underly the silly-good tapas and paellas coming out of El Borracho de Oro's thoughfully put together bar and restaurant. We went with our usual order of whatever the kitchen does best and can therefore competently chew your ear off about the squid ink aioli (which accompanied the calamari), the deep piquante of the tomato-based "bravas" sauce or the seafood paella (pictured), which simply put - got everything right. On the fringes of Edgbaston, blink and you would miss El Borracho. So don't blink. Book here.
WHO: ALUNA  WHERE: 128 - 130 WHARFSIDE STREET, THE MAILBOX  
WHY: It's a Lava Lamp. And it is one of eighty cocktails available at Aluna, which opened less than two weeks ago, on the canalside at the Mailbox. According to menu architect, Yen-Ting, together with the glow-stick inclusive bubble gum martini, the gin-based concotion pictured is an early favourite with customers. We were made more wide-eyed by the range of gel and ice cocktails the team is developing, including its take on a Fab - which you can pretend you don't remember if that's how you want to play it. Frenetic at weekends, we're less convinced about who is going to be filling the plush interior in the week.
WHO: UMAMI  WHERE: 25 LORDSWOOD ROAD, HARBORNE
WHY: If Ashas and Itihaas have the power to put you in a curry-based frenzy, we've got some rather good news. Complete with 18-hour marinated lamb shanks, tasty scallops (pictured) and - well - Itihaas' former chef, Umami is more Bangalore than Balti. In fact, for its lack of Indian authenticity, you won't find Brum's curry creation on the menu, period. What you will find is a thoughful selection of primarily North Indian dishes and some very willing service. There's still work to do on getting the restaurant's aesthetics up to the standard of its top notch food. The Italian flag awning leftover from the building's predecessors is where they might start.
WHO: THE COSY CLUB  WHERE: 33 BENNETT'S HILL, CITY CENTRE
WHY: Open a month now and judging by the local paper's review it had bigger teething problems than a baby shark with a Curly Wurly addiction. We pestered the GM for tips on the best dishes and were really pleased with the results. The tapas makes for a good starter with five spice pork and chorizo in cider the standouts, while their best selling Hero Burger (chorizo, cheddar, fried red onions, chimichurri and chipotle mayo) may not have been the planet's best patty, but it was super tasty. Drinks-wise, the off-menu Midlands Mule (a nod to the building's history as a Midland Bank) is worth hearing about and might be added to the menu at all UK Cosy Clubs.

MUD THREE WAYS
AT THE CLUB AND SPA


Fancy sanding yourself down with salt, smothering sizeable sections or your body with three different types of mud, then steaming off the results? Us too. And fortuitously for everyone, two people can do precisely that in the proper nice surrounds of the Cube's Club and Spa, all for the rather reasonable sum of £99. Also included in your package is access to the club's spa facilities (including the pool pictured and full-size relaxation cocoons suspended from the ceiling; we may or may not have got stuck in ours), plus a light lunch and unrivalled people watching. Though note that the Club will not be in the business of guaranteeing the latter. More information and bookings here.

ANSWER SOME QUESTIONS.
MAYBE WIN HEADPHONES.


We don’t ask for much. Only your unwavering support on everything we do, at every conceivable level. Which is why we’re hoping you might do one more little thing for us. Starting this summer we’ll be collaborating with the Food & Drink Events Co to put on unique lifestyle events featuring the very best things we’ve found to do, in and around Birmingham. However, we need your help to understand the types of events you want to go to. Might you be so kind as to fill out this questionnaire? It’s really not one of those long-winded things and we’ll give one respondent (picked at random) a pair of Bowers & Wilkins C5 in-ear headphones, worth £150. Click here. And thank you kindly.
Venue: New Inn, 74 Vivian Road, Harborne B17 0JD; newinnharborne.co.uk
Choice: Roast Herefordshire Beef (£12)  Chooser: Manager

Aubrey Allen is a big deal in Brum. BIG big. And if you've ever eaten beef at Opus, Fiesta del Asado or Simpsons you'll already be part of a contented club that includes the Queen (they've got a royal warrant no less). Another in-the-know establishment is the New Inn, which serves up Aubrey's finest as part of a cobweb clearing Sunday roast, which comes with proper yorkshires, roasties, peppered swede and a sea of fresh greens. Restorative, comforting and a lot like what Momma used to make, there's precisely no scrimping when it comes to the markedly smoky gravy at the booth-ladended surrounds of this Harborne hit - there wasn't even the vaguest sense of annoyance when we asked for an extra jug of the good stuff. Kick things off with one of the manager's super seasoned Bloody Marys (£5) and if it's a nice day, don't overlook the beer garden, which is deceptively big. Full Sunday menu: here.

COCKTAIL WEEKEND: VENUES ANNOUNCED


Birmingham's first weekend dedicated entirely to cocktails lands on July 10 and, thanks to out-and-out bribery, we've got our hands on the list of venues taking part. For £6 you'll receive a wristband which, when shown in over 20 top bars, will allow you a signature cocktail for £4. Most of the bars are city centre-based (you can match the above map with this key to see who's involved) while two others (the Edgbaston and the New Inn) are off-map, but hositng events. As well as serious cocktail discounts there's a Hendricks gin tasting at the Jekyll and Hyde, a Jim Beam masterclass at the Bureau, a whisky masterclass at Hard to Find Whisky and 'build your own Bloody Mary' shenanigans at Bar Opus. There's also cocktails being served at the Staying Cool Penthouse of the Rotunda, courtesy of "liquid chefs" KitchInn. The finer details and wristband purchase can be found here.
  • Gas Street Social has launched their new brunch, Sat & Sun 9am to 1pm. Check out the bottomless bellinis (£15), breakfast for five (£38) and some seriously good salmon and eggs. Menu here
  • Sir Ranulph Fiennes: A Life at the Limits takes place on June 29 at the Town Hall. The talk will see long-time friend and expedition partner, Anton Bowring, discuss Fiennes' life with the man himself
  • Award-winning street food stars the Original Patty Men will be repping Brummagem at the next UK Burger Battle, in Digbeth, this Sunday. Little'uns now welcome, for the first time, too. £20
  • Come and heckle as I CHOOSE Birmingham founder Tom Cullen talks at Aston Business Network about setting up what is (maybe) your favourite weekly e-magazine about the best things to do in Brum 
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"Work is the curse of the drinking classes"  - Oscar Wilde

WORDS: Katy DrohanTom Cullen
I CHOOSE Birmingham, Office 317, Zellig, Gibb Street, Birmingham, B9 4AA 

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