A new bar inspired by Victoriana is shaking up the cocktail scene in Birmingham
Birmingham is sadly not best known for its cocktail bars but that is starting to change. Ginger’s Bar at Purnell’s Bistro injected some excitement in 2011, followed at the end of last year by The Lost & Found on Bennetts Hill. This whimsical, Victorian-inspired destination for food and drink was designed by Kai Design, which was behind unique London cocktail bars such as Opium in Chinatown and Powder Keg Diplomacy in Battersea. With an experienced team of bartenders, the new bar features forgotten classics, premium spirits, house-made syrups and fresh seasonal food.
While The Lost & Found is marketed as an independent bar, it is actually part of the Pitcher & Piano business within regional brewer and pub operator Marston’s. It has the same management team headed by managing director Colin Sadler but its brand manager Kiran Bains points out: “There are no similarities between the brands except for super-high standards of service. The food, the drinks, the décor are all unique to The Lost & Found.”
Inspiration for the concept comes from the character of Hettie G Watson, an explorer and professor in the 19th century who travelled the world in search of new botanical species which she kept hidden in a secret room. “As you explore the space, you find yourself behind a canopy of plants, lit bird cages and captured butterflies,” Michaela Reysenn of Kai Design explains.
Formerly home to Bennetts bar, the new venue has been created in a grade II-listed former bank dating back to 1869 and resembles a huge floor-to-ceiling botanical library, with dimly lit library lamps lacing the long tables. Next to the library is the “boardroom” where Hettie would consult fellow professors, decorated with a world map and postcards from her travels. “Some postcards are so small that you require one of Hettie’s vintage magnifying glasses to read them,” Michaela points out.
The Dining Room consists of an apothecary-style wall of up-lit jars, each containing an individual flower, complemented by cut-glass decanter lights to create a warm glow. The main wall is designed as a giant vertical wall garden, with projections of animated butterflies while, elsewhere in the bar, an aviary of birds flies above your head. Images of Hettie herself can be spotted in bespoke wall coverings and fabrics.
Hidden behind a bookcase is Hettie’s “secret emporium”. Bespoke wallpaper flecked with gold leaf envelops this room and gives a dark and cosy feeling, Michaela says. “Bell jars of potions and botanical oils surround the bar where elixirs are served for all of Hettie’s guests.”
Hettie and her Victorian botanical hideaway have also inspired the drinks list, with original cocktails created with Shaker Consultancy. The list consists of “Lost” cocktails which are twists on “forgotten” classics, such as an Apple & Pear Cobbler with Courvoisier VS, and a Pot & Kettle Punch made with Ketel One vodka, Bols Genever, Cointreau, pineapple purée, orgeat syrup and lime juice.
The “Found” section is signature drinks, inspired by Victoriana, such as the Earl of Birmingham, combining Earl Grey-infused Beefeater 24 gin, Aperol, pink grapefruit, lemon juice, rhubarb bitters and homemade sugar syrup. “Now that we’ve got our identity, a great list of spirits on the back bar and a brilliant team of bartenders, our cocktail list is all developed in-house,” Kiran adds.
The team includes general manager Kate Taylor, who was previously GM at Pitcher & Piano in York while head chef Adian Monteque was formerly with The Hatton Arms in Warwick and Malmaison. Other members of the team have been recruited from Ginger’s Bar including deputy manager Mark Lucas and head bartender Josh Farrell, who now look after drinks development.
Kiran says the company is on the look-out for new sites in the right location but not for a carbon copy. “We’d follow the essence of the brand but create a new concept and identity. We wanted to create something completely unique for Birmingham’s most discerning drinkers and diners, where they can escape the hustle and bustle and instead delight in glorious breakfasts, brunch, lunch, after-work feasts or sip away on the thing we love most – cocktails.”
The Lost & Found, 8 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham B2 5RS
Tel: 0121 643 9293
Who did it
Design: Kai Design
Wallpaper: Forrest & Jones
Furniture: Andy Thornton
Upholstery: UBC UK
Artificial plants: Plants Enhance, Just Artificial
Furnishings: Uniche Furnishings
Lighting: Historic Lighting
Furnishings: Rockett St George
Signage: DJN Brand Builders
Drinks consultancy: Shaker