Rob Wood &

Joe Schuppler

Joe and Rob are two people, cut from the same, high-quality cloth. 50% nerdy, 50% nonchalant, 100% awesome. Their shared obsession with food, drink, and all things independent, I guess, is what prompted them to settle down, in some (really hard to find) bricks and mortar above a burger joint on Thorp Street, Birmingham. Just get out your Uber in front of Chung Ying Gardens, and in 27 easy steps, you too can sit at Birmingham’s most innovative bar. 18/81 is, by all accounts, the new cocktail joint on everyone’s lips at the moment.

Overnight, it has joined the ranks of 40 St. Paul’s, The Vanguard, Nocturnal Animals and The Edgbaston as one of Birmingham’s ‘proper’ cocktail bars. And the reason for its success? Well. Two reasons really: One called Rob, and one called Joe. According to Rob, there are three, universal problems that can ruin the customer experience in most bars: The drinks take too long. The drinks are too expensive. The staff don’t treat you very nicely.

Joe: We wanted to build a concept that wasn’t just high-quality, delicious and friendly, but also brutally efficient. All of the drinks on our menu take a maximum of 90 seconds to make, all our customers get full table-service, and none of our drinks cost more than £10.

Rob: Well. I remember reading a Michelin review a few years back, and one of the things that the reviewer was really looking for was ‘the chef’s personality on the plate.’ This doesn’t really happen much in our industry, because people always expect to order the same things: Old fashioneds, gimlets and what have you. It’s been like that forever, so the bartender’s ‘personality’ has only been reserved for those really elite places, and even then when you’re in the weeds and you have thirty drinks to make in five minutes, your ‘personality’ goes completely out the window, and you just robotically churn out glass after glass. We solved that problem by developing a menu where 90% of the work is done prior to service, giving us plenty of time prior to service to ensure personality and consistency, but also giving us the opportunity to spend service interacting with customers, instead of shaking, stirring and muddling our way through.” All of our drinks are either pre-mixed, pre-made or pre-batched. All we do is pour them over ice, garnish them or add a final fresh ingredient. No stress.

The Playlist.

  1. Toto – Africa
  2. George Benson – Give Me The Night
  3. Jamiroquai – Love Foolosophy
  4. Michael Jackson – Rock With You
  5. James Brown – The Boss

The Spirits.

  1. Akashi Tai Junmai Daiginjo
  2. Copperhead Gibson Edition
  3. Bacardi Ocho
  4. Suntori Toki
  5. Trois Riveres VSOP