The best hidden bars Birmingham has to offer
Having done the rounds of secret bars in Edinburgh and Manchester – all in the name of empirical citybreak research of course – we have turned our attention to hidden bars in Birmingham, where elusive watering holes are springing up more frequently than a Peaky Blinders bar fight.
But why do we love secret bars so much? Well, it’s surely something about the challenge of finding the thing in the first place; the novelty of the disguises these bars sometimes take on to conceal their identities: pawn shops, barbers and launderettes to name but a few; a whispered password or receiving an address by text; sneaking through a bookcase or hidden door; the intimate feeling of exclusivity and uniqueness that you are in somewhere off the beaten track that only those people who are really in the know (that’s you, naturally) would frequent.
In any case, the hidden bar is a trend from the last decade that is not going anywhere, with secret bars and speakeasies across the UK making a name for themselves as the hottest drinking spots going. So, we naturally felt obliged to bring you our recommendations for the best hidden bars in Birmingham – or the ones we can find at least – if we’ve missed any hidden gems be sure to let us know!
Some of these secret bars are cunningly hidden and deliberately go out of their way to conceal their presence from all but the most eagle-eyed passer-by; others are just a bit off the beaten track, but rest assured all are unique, quirky, very cool bars in Birmingham and guaranteed to impress your date/friends/drinking partners.
Note: Some of them require pre-booking, which we have indicated where we can. Always check local listings for accurate opening hours before you visit.
Bourne and Co.
We’ve started you easy here as this one is not too hard to spot, however, as arguably the original speakeasy-style hidden bar in Birmingham, Bourne and Co. is definitely worthy of mention. This cool bar is must for cocktail connoisseurs; they take the art of mixology extremely seriously here. The expert bar staff really know their stuff and will recommend cocktails for you based on your preferences. They will mix every cocktail with an artistic precision, so settle in, observe the geniuses at work and savour the fruits of their labours
How do you find it? Not too covert; it has a pretty obvious frontage, just around the corner from the Radisson Hotel on the same side of the road. 7-8 Suffolk St, Queensway, Birmingham, B1 1LT
Hidden rating: 4/10
The Speakeasy Bar
The Speakeasy Bar is somewhere on Colmore Row; the exact location and how to get there will only be revealed to you once you call and reserve a table. You will also be given a secret password. Once you arrive, you’ll press a buzzer and a host will come up to meet you to whom you will tell the password, and then you’re in. If the glamour of 1920s America is a bit of you then you will be in your element here; its intimate vintage interior design captures the spirit of the prohibition era. It’s definitely one of the best hidden bars in Birmingham in that it’s undoubtedly the most speakeasyish of the speakeasies that we have managed to find.
How do you find it? Call 0121 236 2400 to make reservations and get the secret password that will grant you access to this secret drinking den.
Hidden rating: 9/10
18/81 specialises in cocktails served in a tasting menu format; they take mixology to a truly next level art form, but the welcoming staff manage to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. If you’re looking for an impressive Michelin-starred cocktail experience, or are celebrating a special occasion, this is the bar for you. The location of this cool hidden bar is somewhat shrouded in mystery, but you can get a text with clues on how to locate this clandestine cocktail bar.
How do you find it? It’s (somewhere!) on Thorp Street, about a five minute walk from Birmingham New Street Station. Contact the bar to make a reservation; allow 2 hours for your visit and a deposit is required for all bookings.
Hidden rating: 9/10
The Peaky Speakeasy
The hugely successful TV series Peaky Blinders may be the best thing that happened to Birmingham in a long time, bringing it to a global audience and inspiring many to visit the city to see the real thing. There are various Peaky-themed tours and experiences in Birmingham you can enjoy, including having a drink at the raucously silly 1920s-themed Peaky Blinder Pub (flat caps are optional but encouraged). However, the Peaky pub has a secret…the bar is home to a secret door disguised as a bookcase; go through the bookcase and you will descend into a secret second bar where you can enjoy more Peaky-inspired merriment.
How do you find it? The pub is part of the Square Shopping Centre: 115 Corporation St, Birmingham B4 7LS
Hidden rating: 5/10 – the Peaky pub is pretty unmissable from the street so just head on in, the challenge is then to find the secret door, to the hidden bar, which is open from 7pm each night
The Gin Vault
With more than 350 gins on their menu, even the most consummate gin professionals should find something to surprise them at The Gin Vault. This canalside hideaway also serves great food and often has live music on Friday nights.
How do you find it? Not strictly a hidden bar, but definitely worth seeking out, this one can be found on the Canalside Walk, where Gas St meets Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2DS
Hidden rating: 3/10
The Gin Parlour at Jekyll & Hyde
The Jekyll and Hyde already enjoys a reputation as one of the best bars in Birmingham, but upstairs there is a cosy and opulent private space, decked in Victorian-themed finery; it’s just like stepping back in time and perfect for settling in on cold winter’s nights. And on sunnier days you can enjoy the crazily whimsical ‘Wonderland Courtyard’; an outside space decorated in imagery from Alice in Wonderland. The Gin Parlour can be reserved for groups, as can the courtyard.
How do you find it? 28 Steelhouse Lane, City Centre, Birmingham B4 6BJ
Hidden rating: 5/10
The Night Owl
Again, this one isn’t strictly a secret bar in Birmingham, as it’s not secret, and it’s actually about a mile outside the city centre in Digbeth (bear with us); it is however a real locals’ favourite, and definitely not one you’d stumble across if you’re new to the city. The Night Owl‘s Northern Soul, funk and Motown nights are legendary and draw crowds from far and wide for its friendly, come-as-you-are vibe. Whatever your music taste; whether you are old enough to remember Motown the first time around, if you are a recent convert, or if you’re looking for a chilled place to dance the night away to some feelgood classic tunes, this one is well worth the walk or bus journey to get to.
How do you find it? 17-18 Lower Trinity Street, Digbeth, Birmingham, B9 4AG. You can either walk or there are various buses which will take you there from New Street.
Hidden rating: 6/10
This hidden bar in Birmingham can be found in the basement of the Burlington Arcade and really has to be seen to be believed. The décor in Bacchus Bar is quite simply bonkers, think historically–themed escape room crossed with a movie set, vaulted ceilings, Roman frescoes around one corner and Egyptian hieroglyphics around another.
How do you find it? Burlington Arcade, New St, Birmingham B2 4JH
Hidden rating: 6/10
40 St. Pauls
This intimate Jewellery Quarter hotspot was named World Gin Bar of the year 2019 – a pretty impressive accolade and, according to its devoted fanbase, well-deserved. The drinks at 40 St. Pauls are made with love and attention to detail, and are presented beautifully.
How do you find it? Head to the Jewellery Quarter from the city centre and it can be found on St. Paul’s Square, 40 Cox St, Birmingham B3 1RD
Hidden rating: 7/10
The Prince of Wales, Moseley
From the exterior, this Birmingham bar looks pretty unremarkable and, dare we say it, a bit old mannish. However, venture inside and you will discover that The Prince of Wales conceals a hidden secret…
The huge beer garden is home to a hidden oasis in the form of a Tiki bar, a Caribbean / Polynesian fusion of colour and exoticism – expect Hawaiian shirts, floral leis, drinks served in skulls or being set alight, and rum. Lots of rum.
How do you find it? it’s a couple of miles from New Street so you can either walk or take a bus to 118 Alcester Rd, Birmingham B13 8EE. Mo-tiki is open Thursday to Sunday.
Hidden rating: 7/10
So there you have it, the ultimate list of the best hidden bars in Birmingham. And while we may have bent the rules a bit on what exactly constitutes hidden, we think that each of these quirky bars has something very special to offer for a memorable night out in Birmingham and is definitely worth the effort to find. Because, if you haven’t had a night out which started by wandering up and down an insalubrious backstreet looking for an unmarked door yet, have you even lived?
After all that hidden bar hunting, one of our holiday apartments in Birmingham city centre is the perfect crash pad to come home to.