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Newest cocktail bar to mix it up throughout the day; A new Skandi-style cocktail and street food bar looks perfect both for work and play. GRAHAM YOUNG goes behind the scenes at the city's latest destination.

HE city centre's Southside district is seeing major changes with the planned creation of a new "resort destination" on a site in Hill Street.

t. Hot on the heels of completing new bar The Lobby on the Hill, work is set to start on a sky bar, branded gym and a possible high-end restaurant as part of a four-year programme.

Once completed, the Smallbrook Queensway site will be re-branded as a "resort", to include a fully-revamped Holiday Inn.

Known as the Albany Hotel in its heyday, it currently has 261 bedrooms, with the main check-in desk now on the far side of The Lobby on the Hill bar.

All of the components of the "resort" will be run and marketed as standalone businesses by Cairn Group, not as one faceless Holiday Inn.

Now, in tandem with Hortons' ongoing restoration of the Grand Hotel on Colmore Row, the Holiday Inn is fighting back against younger rivals like The Hyatt by adopting several new guises.

The Lobby on the Hill has been designed to transform itself effortlessly around the clock, from a 7am Starbucks coffee shop to a creative cocktail parlour at night.

And from a daytime lifestyle bar with multimedia workspaces to a fully-fledged street food dining destination.

The Lobby's main entrance will be on the corner of Hill Street and Smallbrook Queensway.

It will be officially launched on Thursday, October 27.

Cocktails on the menu include classic, signature, short and long - with prices from PS7 to PS8.50 across the range.

Classic cocktails range from Bellini (peach puree and peach liqueur mixed with Prosecco, PS7) up to Old Fashioned (Bourbon, sugar cube, few dashes of bitters stirred together and garnished with orange peel, PS8).

Signature cocktails start at PS7.50 for the Kiwi and Apple Blossom (fresh kiwi, Bombay Sapphire Gin, lemon vodka, elderflower liqueur, almond syrup, fresh lemon juice and apple juice garnished with apple foam) to PS8.50 for the Smoked Gingerbread Manhattan (Makers Mark Bourbon, sweet Vermouth gingerbread syrup and aromatic cocktail bitters served over an ice ball with a smokey surprise).

Venue manager Blake Chadwick, 28, who previously worked for All Bar One, Miller & Carter and M&B, as well as running a cocktail bar in Vietnam, says: "We are going to cover all bases here at The Lobby, offering everything from cocktail masterclasses to locally-sourced food served at high street prices."

The food menu will include triple-cooked chip butties, Black Country faggot sliders (small buns) with a snifter of local ale, breaded monkfish cheeks with tartare sauce, crispy fried pork ribs with chilli and spring onion and crispy chicken wings - with secret recipe 'Hill Street hot sauce'.

Next door, an enlarged 1,000sq metre Birmingham Conference & Events Centre (The BCEC) has been created out of the first floor function room. But there is much more to come from developers Cairn Group.

The Holiday Inn site's general manager, Vincent Garrington, says: "The Lobby and BCEC are just the beginning of our plans.

"We are also going to build a branded gym, a sky bar with 200 covers and there could also be a high-end restaurant if our plans don't change again in the months ahead. The idea is to cater for the Southside of Birmingham, which has 7,000 people who come to work here and 7,000 people who live here.

"From having Starbucks open at 7am, there will always be something on offer. These are very exciting times for the city and we are right on time with everything that is happening."

Vince's parents were publicans who ran hostelries like The Phoenix pub on the A45.

"Twenty years ago, food in this country was shocking - now we are at the forefront of diverse culinary offerings," he says.

"The interesting thing is that the same thing is happening with liquor - bartending and mixology are now professional careers thanks to people who care passionately about ingredients and, on that front, the city is really motoring. Venues like The Lobby on the Hill will help the city to mature."

Bartending and mixology are now professional careers thanks to people who care passionately about ingredients... the city is really motoring Vincent Garrington


The attractive surroundings of The Lobby on the Hill

The Lobby on the Hill will feature a range of cocktails mixed by professionals and, inset, an ever-changing food offering starting with breakfast from 7am
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 20, 2016
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