The Mailbox, after its recent renovation, is one of Birmingham’s top destinations for high end shopping and dining out, but it is often associated with only chain restaurants and bars. Last week myself and a small group of fellow food bloggers went on a mini crawl of two cocktail bars at the Mailbox that are independent, unique and oozing with personality. Both Aluna and Gas Street Social also serve food (have a read of my Aluna food menu review), but it’s their cocktails that are achieving them high acclaim in Birmingham.
We started the evening at Aluna where we all chose a cocktail off the menu to begin with. I went for the Turkish Delight, a sweet and creamy short drink of vodka, rose liqueur and chocolate. Though it didn’t quite match the Chocolate Rose at The Botanist, it was still a delicious drink if you’re a fan of sweet cocktails.
We were then invited over to the bar for a mini masterclass. First up was Aluna’s special festive cocktail, a black forest gateau. Again, this was a really rich cocktail with shed loads of cream on the top (which is not as easy as it looks to squirt on!) and would be a real winner if you’re into your chocolate berry combos. Aluna are usually very happy to knock you up a special request, so even if you visit after Christmas it’s worth asking the bartender to create something similar!
Next we made one of Aluna’s most popular drinks, the Lava Lamp. This drink is Aluna’s ‘mixology’ theme at it’s best; chemically created balls of gel (don’t ask, I study literature for a reason), and dry ice to make the drink bubble away. This was a really refreshing orange flavoured drink and a nice change from the rich and sweet theme that ran throughout the night. The edible globules were pomegranate flavoured and kind of felt like you were eating those air freshener gel balls, but in a good way…
After this we headed upstairs to Gas Street Social. If you didn’t get chance to go in there over the festive period I’m afraid you really missed out! The guys at Gas St. really know how to do up the place; the bar had a cosy, Nordic feel with fur covered seats, blankets, winter lodge booths and deer heads. The Christmas drinks menu was also pretty extensive, complete with 4 short cocktails, mulled cider and 12 Christmas flavoured shots (why they weren’t called the 12 shots of Christmas we could not work out).
During the evening we tried the Christmas pudding martini, the ginger bread espresso martini, another black forest martini, some mulled cider and 6 of the shots. The Christmas martinis were all to die for if you’re into your sweet, death-in-a-glass kind of cocktails (and I certainly am). If you’re not, then perhaps stick to the main cocktail menu, as I would say there are even less of the sickly sweet options on here than in most bars. The shots were incredibly strong, as you’d expect, but were all beautifully flavoured with Christmas themes, such as the minty After Eight shot, the creamy nutty butter or the fruity bakewell tart.
We had a great night trying out some great drinks, and it further confirmed my love of these two places when it comes to drink. What stood out most during the night were the quirky creative touches that can only be achieved in independent bars, so even when it’s not Christmas, they’ll always be worth a visit. Thanks to Natalie for organising this event and for the guys at Aluna and Gas Street Social for having us all!
*All drinks were complimentary at this event however I was not required to write anything. This does not affect my honest opinion.