Review: Cocktail Menu at Rub Smokehouse, Birmingham.

Rub Smokehouse is relatively new to the Birmingham independent food scene, and, being a place primarily focused on meat, I hadn’t had it on my radar of places to visit. What I didn’t realise, however, is that this American-style restaurant has an extensive cocktail menu, and is worth visiting for drinks alone. Last week we went down to Broad Street to try a few drinks from the menu and get a feel for the place. So if you like fun, quirky cocktails then read on to find out what’s on offer at Rub!

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Despite being on Broad Street, there’s something of the ‘hidden gem’ feel to Rub, if only for the fact that it is literally hidden. On entering the venue, you have to take a lift to the restaurant proper, and when you discover the size of the place you’ll be surprised it could be so tucked away! The theme of the restaurant is like an American Diner with a slightly industrial twist; think chip-board walls and wooden bench units (which weren’t the comfiest of seats). The staff were very friendly and there was a good feel to the place, though we couldn’t help feeling like they’d missed a trick with the music – why not play American classics rather than Take That and The Kooks!?

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Cocktails-wise, you can expect all your favourite classics on the menu, however we wanted to try out their originals and see what this place was all about. From the menu you can expect pun-orientated names (some very clever, some a tad awkward to order), interesting flavour combinations and an eye for fun presentation.

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For our first round we ordered the ‘peanut butter, jelly thyme’ and the ‘black moonshine’. I was really interested to see how the thyme flavour would work with the peanut butter, and I was pleasantly surprised! A bourbon based drink, the thyme added a strong fragrance and the peanut butter chocolate drops were a nice touch. Other flavours included white chocolate and raspberry, though these were somewhat overpowered. The black moonshine was delicious, though not for the faint-hearted, as it included bourbon, Firefly Moonshine, Southern Comfort, Stoli and Goslings 151 amongst other flavours. This drink was served with pop-corn to compliment the popcorn syrup and a bottle of coca-cola, which was a nice extra but we weren’t sure what it really added to the drink.

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Round two was the ‘coney island cooler’ and ‘a fistful of pesos’. The ‘coney island cooler’ was a light, refreshing cocktail created with gin, fresh strawberries, candy floss syrup, lemon juice and vanilla soda. This drink was a little on the sweet side even for me, but the flavours blended well and the candy floss garnish went down a treat! The ‘fistful of pesos’ was a savoury cocktail made with tequila, guacamole, lime juice, fajita seasoning, chipotle bitters and tomato juice. Rub have really gone to town with the presentation of this drink, certainly going for the fun and flamboyant look rather than the classy! Neither of us were keen on the taste, though that could be a personal thing – for us it tasted a bit like watered down salsa…

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Finally we finished off with the ‘Roswell Rickey’ and a drink from their shakes menu, the ‘Reeses Pieces shake’ with Buffalo Trace (mainly because Jack had been so jealous of my peanut butter flavoured drink earlier in the evening). The Roswell Rickey was a long and zingy drink, created with gin, Briottet Rhubarb, lemon, dandelion and burdock bitters and soda water. This drink worked really well as all the flavours were allowed to come through and there was plenty of it! The peanut butter shake was to die for. Though we wouldn’t recommend it on a heavy nights drinking as it’s pretty sickly(!), it was a perfectly indulgent drink that would also work well as a dessert. The bourbon gave the shake a subtle kick and the chocolate and peanut butter flavours were perfectly balanced.

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Overall, though not a ‘sophisticated’ menu, the cocktails at Rub Smokehouse really suit the laid back, fun atmosphere of the restaurant and will certainly give you something to talk about when you try them! It was a nice change to have some unpretentious cocktails that still really worked flavour-wise, and ranging from £7-£8 they won’t break the bank either. So if you fancy trying some drinks that are a little bit different and full of fun then I’d really recommend a trip to Rub Smokehouse. Thank you to Joe and the team for having us, I’m sure it won’t be long until we are back to try the rest of the cocktails list!

*We were invited to Rub to try their cocktails complimentary for review purposes. This does not affect my honest opinion.

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