Review: Island Bar, Birmingham

Island Bar, Birmingham

This is one of the few places in Birmingham that bills itself as a cocktail bar (and rock and roll bar). It’s certainly a bit different from what some people might believe a cocktail bar should look like with its funky interior, and rock&roll vibe.

Island Bar Decor
Though a quick look at the bar, and of the menu show you one thing. Cocktails are the main thing on the menu, sure there are some bottle and draft beers – but well you may not receive the warmest of welcome if that’s all you are after. [That said, there are times when some bartenders do look like they really don't want to make a cocktail, and would rather pour you a lager].

The cocktail menu is divided up into five sections Classics & Neo-Classics, Crowd Pleasers, Affordable Pleasure, Spring Specials, and of course Island Inventions.

A quick look at the Island Inventions shows some ingenuity, as well as explaining the presence of the vast amount of homemade creations stocked in the bar (from their own bloody mary mix, basil gin to spiced rum)

The staff can vary, but usually it’s easy to spot who the good bartenders are, happy to be making multiple drinks at a time, and pleasing the customers with a bit of chit-chat. If you don’t find something you want on the menu (which covers most the bases), then they’ll be happy to make you something off the cuff. The staff are knowledgeable, and it shows.
Martini Elderflower & Cucumber
Back to that menu though, it’s great they are showing some of their own creations on it; but with a bar with such skill should they be serving a Mojito. Has the Mojito not died it’s death yet?

The bar has a quirky feel with murals on the wall, and a slightly chaotic atmosphere especially when their ‘happy hour’ (5-8PM Every Day) finishes, which means that cocktails are no longer £3.50 and ‘jump up’ to normal prices which are a very reasonable £5-7.

If you like a cocktail, this is certainly a place to visit. Unfortunately the atmosphere may not be for everyone. It is a nice joint for a cocktail. It is not a high-class dinner jacket and dress environment. More of an indie/cool/trendy cocktail crowd.

The other good news is that they have a Tiki bar upstairs, a TIKI bar in Birmingham! That’s for another day though.

P.S. I’ve sampled a lot of the menu, and lately some delightful Clover Clubs, Old Style Bloody Mary (Gin instead of Vodka), and that Cucumber and Elderflower Martini in the picture above.

Atmosphere: 7/10
Staff: 8/10
Price: 8/10
Drinks: 8/10
Overall 7.75/10

Location: 14-16 Suffolk Street Queensway, Birmingham
Website: Island Bar

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  1. Martin says:

    I love Island Bar, I’ve spent many an afternoon trying to work my way through the cocktail menu.

    I’ve had no problems with the bar staff, always eager to make me something that isn’t on the menu, even if the bar is packed.

    I would disagree with your point about mojitos though, I love a good mojito and to remove something from a menu simply seems silly.

  2. Martin says:

    That comment should have read ‘to remove something from the menu simply because it is popular seems silly’

  3. Neil says:

    I guess it’s about menu size, I’m all for the condensed menu of 20 drinks. Even if a Mojito wasn’t on the menu, people would still order it and the staff would still make it.

    The bar staff comment was what I observed a month back, not to me but to a friend. It doesn’t let the place down, hell I’ve drank a lot at this place. Certainly up in the top 3 spots in Birmingham.

  4. Nic says:

    For me Island Bar has been, and continues to be, instrumental in Brum city centre getting it’s groove back. Slightly swanky more expensive cocktail bars are all well and good but for a city centre to develop its own individual style you need independent bars that attract down to earth creative types. ATTA girl had their first birthday upstairs at Island yesterday – one product of what can emerge from a great independent bar with its own very unique style.

    And the drinks. Well Brum didn’t have a rock n roll cocktail bar, cocktails yes, but nothing so unique. For ne the drinks are the best in Brum but I am also impressed with their range of bottled beers, Veltins, Blue Moon etc. The staff aren’t rude but don’t expect any American service style fakeness. As one of the staff once commented: ‘Would you rather have a chatty barman and shit drinks?’. And he’s got a point.

  5. I like Island Bar. Don’t get there nearly often enough but it’s my bar of choice for an after work cocktail or seven. I like the rough n ready atmosphere – a liking for cocktails doesn’t necessarily need to equal being a flashy git : )

    And it’s nicely away from the main drinking areas yet also very near several stops for my bus home, no matter which way the wind blows me when I stagger out.

    Yes, I like pina coladas…


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