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The 26 best bars in Birmingham

From mead specialists and wine connoisseurs to Prohibition-style speakeasies, these are the best bars in Birmingham right now

Written by
Richard Franks
James Brennan
Kayleigh Watson

Birmingham may be best known for its classic Victorian boozers and real ale pubs, but its newer wave of cocktail spots and homely lounge bars are certainly worth their salt too. Revolutionary craft beer, endless gin lists, locally-themed cocktails and even a groundbreaking zero-waste bar: England’s second city really does have it all.

From the city centre’s heady mix of class and heritage to the Jewellery Quarter’s laid-back atmosphere and industrial past and Stirchley’s forward-thinking cocktail and brewing prowess, this city is no longer overlooked. So, head here with an open mind. These are the best bars in Birmingham right now.

RECOMMENDED: The best restaurants in Birmingham

Best bars in Birmingham

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars

Proclaimed the World Gin Bar of the Year in 2019 by Gin Magazine, 40 St Paul’s proudly presents no fewer than 140 of the only very finest gins. This is a cosy and intimate spot overlooking St Paul’s Church on Birmingham’s last remaining Georgian square – and with just 24 seats, you might want to book ahead.

During the Industrial Revolution, Birmingham was known as the City of a Thousand Trades, and this hip hangout in a listed building in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter is all about craft. From craft beers to natural organic wines, the bar is thoughtfully stocked with artisanal goodies. The same philosophy applies to the kitchen residencies, DJs and artwork adorning the exposed brick walls: everything is local, expertly crafted and proudly presented as the best of Brum.

  • Bars and pubs

Bacchus makes the grade thanks to its sheer wackiness. It’s one of those places that’s always fun to duck into with a visiting friend if only to watch their reaction at the extravagant decor. The bar is tucked away on the basement floor of the Burlington Arcade, a complex of hotels and shops in the centre of town located on one of Birmingham’s oldest streets. Dating back to 1398, this is a pub that’s taken the historical theme of the area, sprinkled a little bit of Hogwarts, and run wild with it. 

Said to be influenced by Budapest’s famous ruin bars, The Ruin is one of the city’s most underrated boozers. Digbeth is its home – an industrial street art-laden area sympathetic, in parts, with the style of the likes of Szimpla Kert in Budapest – and it couldn’t be more suited. The Ruin is famous not only for its rustic decor but its excellent beer selection, and a banging Sunday roast too.


Couch is somewhat of a stalwart in Stirchley’s booming drinks scene – and it’s easy to see why. Ranked by The Daily Telegraph among the world’s best 20 bars in 2021, this cosy neighbourhood cocktail spot is spearheaded by some of the city’s brightest bartenders, with the previous cocktail selection inspired by musical legends and their finest tracks. (Future drinks menus will all be focused on local and seasonal produce.)

This Japanese-themed cocktail bar is one of the city’s more original neighbourhood gems – partly down to its use of rare ingredients. Cocktails include sought-after ingredients like the tropical plant pandan, while a healthy selection of speciality sake is on offer too. Ikigai was recently named as newcomer of the year by Top 50 Cocktail Bars, so you’re in good hands here.


Creamy pints is all you need to know. On a more serious note, Irish bar Nortons is probably Birmingham’s best pint of Guinness, and is fast becoming one of its top party spots too. By day it’s an unassuming, warehouse-style Irish bar showing live sports and serving up hand stretched pizzas, but by night you’ll have no choice but to get stuck in with the live trad music. Sláinte!

With locations scattered across the country, you’ve probably heard of The Botanist by now; but if not, you’re in for a treat. They take what they do seriously, and by ‘seriously’, we’re talking taste and portion size; the hanging kebabs (yep, it’s just what it sounds like) are a firm favourite. The liquid offerings are similarly generous, with cocktails divided into ‘fruit and floral’, ‘fresh and herbaceous’ and ‘citrus and spice’ – a winner for all taste buds, and gardening fans. The latter takes it up a notch with some cocktails even served in mini plant pots. 


Attic is a thriving Stirchley taproom with a very famous beer in these parts: Intuition. Their flagship pale draws craft aficionados in from all over the country to sample it for themselves – and they’re never disappointed. Keep an eye on Attic’s social media to see which brewery they’re collaborating with next. Furthermore, Bournville railway station is next-door; you won’t even need a designated driver.

Those into a wee dram or two should look no further than Grain & Glass. Home of the Birmingham Whisky Club for the last decade plus, this Jewellery Quarter bar is home to some of the finest, and rarest, whiskies you’re likely to find in a bar outside of Scotland. Well over 300 different whiskies are on the cards here, and private tastings can be booked too.


This is a glorious pub and restaurant, but arguably an even better place to make a pitstop for a potent cocktail or two. Located in a grand former bank, the drinks menu changes seasonally; this means you may have to make the most of your current favourite drink while it’s still available, but the ever-shifting options are all part of the fun.

Craft beer, all-day breakfasts, burgers, coffee, cakes – you can get it all at Cherry Reds. This favourite independent spot in a listed building on historic John Bright Street is marvellously homely, despite its quirkiness. It’s part-bar, part-café and-part living room. And with its goldfish bowl windows looking out on the street, it’s also a great place to kill some time and people-watch.

  • Bars and pubs

The Loft is legendary in these parts. Located a hop, skip and a jump from the Gay Village, Chinatown and Arcadian, it’s the perfect launchpad for a night on the town. Its relaxed daytime atmosphere offering includes warming nibbles and a highly-rated Sunday lunch, while high-energy events, including drag performances, take over at night.

No list of Birmingham’s best bars would be complete without including its most iconic institution: Snobs. Founded in 1972, this legendary alternative bar and club is the city’s favourite, and although it moved from its original location back in 2014 it’s still a thriving day-and-night bastion. Snobs is arguably the best place in central Birmingham to watch live sports, and its three-floored nightclub pumping out indie, rock, pop and hip hop is the perfect place to celebrate.


Fox and Chance is a swanky bar that found a home in abandoned adult shops, just a short distance from Birmingham New Street Station. With its name nodding to the city’s historical industrial entrepreneurs, the bar aspires to be as welcoming as a local pub while delivering classic cocktails with regional twists; its More than Venice brandy-based cocktail is a nod to the city’s impressive canal network.

Quietly slinging pints in Hockley near Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, The Wolf is a local favourite that feels far removed from the bustle of the city centre. This family-run business brings great cask ales and a rotating – though very extensive – menu set to keep the city’s patrons on their toes. Think grapefruit-laced beer, locally sourced favourites, and nationwide signatures on tap: consider it your British ale bar crawl, with a solid cheeseboard thrown in for good measure, all from one seat.


Finding its home within Birmingham’s magnificent Grand Hotel, Madeleine Bar befits the name of its surroundings: think dark wood interiors, red velvet seating and low-hanging chandeliers. Amid the glamour, Madeleine’s menu covers the classics as well as a clutch of house numbers to complement its selection of quirky snacks. 

A city can never have enough gin bars, and sometimes it’s the hidden ones we are most thankful for. The Gin Vault is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it basement bar that can only be accessed by a canalside door. Inside, it’s all rough wood panels and exposed brickwork, but some clever lighting warms the place up, as does the live music during the weekends.

  • Restaurants

Despite offering more than 100 beers (yes, really) Purecraft is as popular with Brum’s gin-swigging contingent as it is for business lunches or post-work ales. With local brewery legends Purity on board, the beer is unsurprisingly always on point, and the drinks list includes a blackboard that’s chock full of tasty surprises.

Until its closure back in 2017, multi-venue behemoth The Rainbow was renowned for its raves, gigs and street parties that spilled out across its pub, warehouses and outdoor arena. Back with a bang and a hefty refurb at the end of 2021, traditional aesthetics and plush velvet update its pub interior, while street art and an impressive light show adorn its live-music basement. Here, you’ll find a sturdy ale offering alongside a rotating street food menu, but it is their extensive cocktail list that is the main surprise; take a punt on a Custard Factory in homage to their Digbeth home.


Leeds-based North spread their wings in the latter part of 2022, opting for Birmingham as their first venture out of their home city – and what a place to land in. Their offering of fruity beers and hazy IPAs is already going down well at their shiny Snow Hill location; likewise the begroni on tap. If that wasn’t enough, they even brought Leeds’s Little Bao Boy restaurant with them. Beers and baos: a match made in heaven.

Luna Springs’ outdoor venue is the perfect place for catching some rays. With a calendar of events ranging from disco to bingo and street food on hand, this Digbeth hangout is a great place to catch up with friends as you work your way through its bottomless brunch cocktails.


Birmingham’s habit of revolutionary practices continues at Kilo Zero – the UK’s first zero-waste café-bar and refill taproom. Brought to you from the Brummie minds behind The Clean Kilo, the UK’s largest zero-waste supermarket, this bar supports sustainable methods and champions local producers with its wine, cocktail and beer lists, and offers an exemplary afternoon tea up there with Britain’s best of its kind. Bring a refillable bottle as you’ll want to take some artisan wine home.

A classy affair found on Birmingham’s Waterfront, Noel’s Bar has found the sweet spot between being a high-end experience in a relaxed setting. It delivers delightfully arranged Mediterranean-inspired dishes, but its cocktails are worthy of their own praise; petal-strewn, decadent and a pleasing size, they are pulled from a colourful palette and an extensive menu that stretches to all manner of gin, wine, whisky and tequila.


Are you the sort that finds it difficult to commit when spoiled for choice? With more than 100 wines on the menu, Vagabond certainly fulfils that. A wine bar unlike any other, what makes Vagabond unique is its ‘self-pour’ option, which means visitors can simply top up their card and pour a glass (or a pint of its recently introduced craft beer) themselves. Never fear, however; with dedicated advisers on hand to help, they’ll whittle down the range to suit your individual tastes in no time.

A bar dedicated to pinball? There has to be a twist. And there is, because as well as a flashing, bashing collection of some 20 modern and retro machines, this City Arcade bar is a wizard when it comes to craft beer, speciality coffee and loose-leaf teas. Whether you’re twitching the flippers on a retro table or wetting your whistle with something rare and tasty, you’ll be guaranteed to want a replay.

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