When it comes to Birmingham, Broad Street is usually the go-to destination for a night of drinking. However, St Paul’s Square, just a fifteen minute walk away, is a more than worthy contender. Located in the centre of the Jewellery Quarter, the Georgian square plays host to a mix of upmarket bars and restaurants. Tucked away from it all lies 40 St Paul’s, an exclusive gin bar offering table service and the biggest drinks menu you’ve probably ever seen.
The Venue and Atmosphere
The simple number ‘40’ adorning the front door of the venue gives little indication of the bustling hotspot that lies behind it. In fact, its sparse signage means I somehow managed to walk past it twice. Nevertheless, once you’re inside, the single-room bar perfectly creates a cosy, laidback atmosphere.
Dimly lit with muted velvet décor, the interiors are unfussy and simple, leaving the drinks menu to be the star of the show. The low hum of music means that even on a Saturday night a decent conversation is possible. Moreover, as it only seats 24, it doesn’t feel crowded, even when it’s at full capacity, which is pretty much always – while it’s quiet when we arrive at 6pm, it's fully booked 30 minutes later.
Fresh from its recent achievement of winning ‘Gin List of the Year 2017’, 40 St Paul’s has every reason to shout about its curated drink menu. There’s two choices – an express menu for beginners looking for a quick cocktail, or a more in-depth, interactive menu that hosts over 140 different types of gin.
The flavour wheel for each section helps you decode the plethora of unusual varieties. Whether you like your gin to have a touch of citrus, are looking for something fruity, or even a spicy flavour, they’ve got the tipple to offer you.
The Slingsby Rhubarb (£9) was a zesty sweet gin that complemented the tangy ginger ale mixer and the adorning fresh fruit perfectly. For those with more eccentric taste, The Masons Yorkshire (£9.50) is a ‘love it or hate it’ drink – I loved it, my plus one hated it – fusing real Yorkshire Tea with gin, lemon and peppercorn. Strathearn Oaked (£9) on the rocks is the perfect after-dinner drink. Ideal if you usually count yourself a whisky drinker, this rich, creamy, oaky drink somehow doesn’t taste like gin at all.
40 St Paul’s manages to somehow capture the cosy, comfortable atmosphere of drinking in somebody’s living room. It’s unrushed, relaxed and avoids being at all pretentious. The staff’s knowledge is second to none, and working your way through this bar’s eclectic gin menu is surely an ideal way to spend a weekend in Birmingham.