I was sat at the bar of Couch a couple of Saturdays back when a very nice man called Paul came over to say hello. Aside from making my night with some very kind words, he mentioned that he thought there would be a chance he would see me here: an indictment of my alcohol issues if there ever was one. Later, after posting a photo on social media, another friend asked if I’d secured living accommodation within the bar. Have I really become synonymous with a cocktail bar not even three months old? I hope so.
After spending the first five consective nights sat at MY stool (and it is mine) at the bar, Claire’s birthday eve, Claire’s birthday, Christmas Eve, New Years Eve, and countless other lost evenings, I can confidently say that Couch is up there with the very best cocktail bars I have ever been to. Maybe the best. And that has very little to do with me knowing the team here, which I do, and a lot to do with facts. And also that they have negroni on tap.
So, Your Honor, first bout of evidence in the case of Couch Being Greatest Cocktail Bar In The World is a simple one. It’s the drinks. Presently based on a music theme, each of the cocktails takes inspiration from a track that then weaves an element of that song back into it. Take ‘English Man in New York’, a 1987 hit by tantric testicled twat, Sting. It’s a Manhattan made with English ingredients; mead, Cotswolds single malt whisky, and meadowsweet honey. Clever right? I know. Just wait to you find a free afternoon to ask Jacob about the idea behind ‘Pennyroyal Tea’. And there is ‘The Gambler’, a whisky-based drink which is the best drink I’ve ever tried. Seriously. I’d have this straight into my veins if syringes weren’t frowned upon in public. I may have also tried a drink going onto the next menu (film based this time) that tastes like a salted banana split doused in rum which may be even better. So basically Nobody Does It Better, a drink that should have been on this menu were they all not so sickeningly humble.
Next up is the thing that separates Couch from the other great cocktails that we have in Brum: it’s the vibe, or ambience if you are one of the many readers of this blog over the age of fifty (don’t die! I need you!). For those familar with the second city, think Shoreditch, specifically a bastardisation of Happiness Forgets, Satan’s Whiskers, and Coupette. For those who have never heard of London, which is fine and perfectly understandable, think cool, relaxed, and comforting, with a playlist that starts with soulful rock and ends with a bar sing-a-long of Rocket Man, or any number of tracks by Queen. It helps that it’s small – about twenty seats inside – and it helps that most of those seats are around the bar. It helps that it’s beautifully designed in dark greens and comfy stools, but it helps more that the people behind the bar are the best in Birmingham at making people feel welcome.
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I’ve toyed with this piece for a while. Started it. Stopped it. Started it again. It’s what happens when you’re friends with the team involved, even if the team in question have made it abundently clear that they prefer my girlfriend’s company to mine. But if this blog really exists to shine a light on the best of Birmingham then Couch has to be featured. It’s a neighbourhood bar with serious drinks that isn’t afraid to take the piss out itself. In my eyes that makes it perfect. Go, sit at the bar, and try it for yourself, but don’t you dare choose the stool third from the right. It’s mine and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise.
Don’t drink and drive, take an A2B and make a night of it