Hidden Gems of Birmingham - Suds and Duds

Scratch beneath the surface of our city and you'll find some real hidden gems. So we have set out to explore the best-kept secrets and unsung heroes of Birmingham. This week, Sarah and Laura Smith venture to Suds N Duds, Birmingham's most mysterious speakeasy...

Walking into Suds N Duds bar is possibly one the oddest experiences we’ve had on a night out in a while. First of all when turning off Broad Street rather than looking for the obvious drink promotions and signage that normally litters a bars façade to discover this place you are looking for washing machines and soap powder adverts. The only clue to its true identity is a chalk board listing the current drink highlights.

When steeping up the entrance stairs you are greeted by washing machines that had seen better days and washing. Hopefully not too dirty but washing all the same. It is hung on the stairs, piled on the washing machines and swinging from the washing lines running over the stairs. Entry to this bar really does require you to pay attention. Promoted as a speak easy this bar does its job hiding in plain sight and it’s not until you reach the top of the stairs that you are assured you’ve come to the right place.

As you swing open the bar doors the scene changes from that of a laundry to a wide open room with three smaller ‘rooms’. Each room’s space is decorated to reflect a part of a home, the bathroom complete with toilet seat is the first thing you spot and a bath tub table makes sure you have somewhere to rest your drinks. The aviary offers an old fashioned conservatory feel complete with comfy couches and bird cages while the goblet room feels more like a decadent lounge. Looks closely and there are games to found wherever you take you a seat – our evening included a fairly competitive game of dominoes!

The big main room is home to a football table and seats of all kinds. From arm chairs to high tables and chairs whatever your preference or dress you’ll find somewhere comfy to sit and enjoy the music. The bar itself offers a relaxed alternative to the busy chains on Board Street and the perfect opportunity to talk and catch up with friends.

The bar offering is fairly limited but has enough choice to meet everyone’s tastes, with Rekorderlig on tab, craft beers available and fridges stocking a small range if you aren’t a cocktail drinker you’ll still find something to enjoy. If you are a cocktail drinker though, this place is worth a visit. Rather than standard glasses the concoctions here come in teacups or pineapples or other slightly different containers.

The menu on offer wasn’t as extensive as the menu shown online. The Suds N Duds specials were all available but the Sparklers and Teas service weren’t on the menu. It didn’t have a massive impact on our choices though as we went for the Mad Hatter – who wouldn’t want to try lavender sherbet. The cocktail was good value for the £7.50 it cost. We were even provided with the extra cocktail in a glass as the serving was too big for the tea cup.

Our barman of the night was ready with tips and recommendations when it came to selecting drinks and with a wide range of spirits and mixers on offer if you are up for trying something different this is the place to do it. You also get a free shot if you check in on Facebook so you won’t go thirsty if you find this place.
The atmosphere being informal and friendly allowed us feel at home – something the décor also helped with – and we had spent almost 3 hours hanging out before we noticed the time. This place definitely works for a quieter night out with friends or as an end of night chill out place to review the evening.

Mastering the stair case as you leave is a little trickier than it seemed going in and I almost took a jumper home with me as I knocked it off the washing line. Reappearing in the street again you really get the sense that you have just come out of a speakeasy. There were even people ready to ask us how you get to the laundrette who left disappointed that it was drinks on offer rather than full cycles for dirty washing!

We also saw that on Friday nights they do cocktail sessions where you can learn to make your own! Something we will be checking out for sure.  

Review written by SWOOPE content partners Sarah and Laura Smith. Check out their blog here: http://sarahpluslaura.blogspot.de/ 

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