The Pinnacle Guide

Passing Fancies

Birmingham, UK

Designed to feel like a kitchen party, Passing Fancies is a bar dedicated to its local community and strives to create cocktails that reflect this local homage.

AREAS OF EXCELLENCE

AREAS OF EXCELLENCE

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COMMUNITY ENDEAVOURS

Passing Fancies does a lot for its local industry. It has an open-door policy for other bartenders in the area to use their assets such as the centrifuge and rotavap but also an open-book policy, sharing recipes for any methods and ingredients. Moreover, they strive to ensure their team feels incredibly valued with a 4-day working week alongside a salary and service charge.

DETAILS OF NOTE

Look out for the small trinkets Passing Fancies staff have hidden around the room in the hope guests will notice. There’s a rubber shark on one of the pillars that doubles as a stress ball for those in need, each table has a flower display from a local florist who hand dries and designs each centrepiece and the baseball bat that hangs over the bar top is made from old repurposed skateboards.

The Pinnacle Guide

1

Located on the ground floor of a beautifully industrial and gentrified old custard factory, Passing Fancies is a bar built for its local community. Its aim is to provide a space where new friends can meet alongside old and it goes by the adage ‘strangers are simply friends you haven’t met yet’.

What this means design-wise is a mix of communal and more intimate seating with the bar space at the centre, intended to feel like a relaxed kitchen party. Three of Passing Fancies’ four walls are glass, allowing guests to see the characters of Birmingham go by, however the seating is placed so those inside don’t feel watched, instead pointing the focus at the drinks and people inside. The rest of the space follows that lean towards minimalism that the floor-to-ceiling windows give, but manages it in a warm style. To contrast the large amount of glass, pillars are made of exposed brick and pink plaster while the bartop is recycled wood terrazzo and chairs are lined with simple brown leather. 

Guests are encouraged to walk behind the bar, look into stations and engage with bartenders and fellow guests about any topic. During off peak times the vibe is friendly and comfortable and at peak times it can sometimes turn into the other style of Kitchen Party. The lights can change from a hued yellow to an array of pink, blue, green with a party playlist to match. 

As a venue opened with community in mind, the team wanted to hero local produce and like to present drinks in a minimalistic manner, letting the freshness of flavours be the star of the show. Menus change every week, meaning the team spends Tuesday scoping out what can be sourced from the market. Some weeks are easy, with an abundance, and other times they find themselves debating the best way of infusing a cauliflower to make a Colada variant. Non-alcoholic options are included in this endeavour, ensuring no one misses out on the bar’s concept. 

This constant creative process keeps the team on their toes, learning new principles and flavour combinations whilst keeping the menu fresh and exciting regardless of whether guests are Fancies’ regulars or visit for the very first time. Each drink is a collaboration between the team and they plan, trial and improve as a unit – giving everyone who works there ownership over the cocktail programme. This sense of camaraderie continues outside of service and the team spend a lot of time together away from the bar – be that research trips to see other bars or just weekends away on the coast. There’s full briefing pre-shift and time to decompress afterwards – and no area of career development is out of bounds – be that flavour experimentation or learning the ins and outs of actually running and managing a bar. 

There’s thoughtful detail going in to more than just the drinks here – the glassware for example is exclusively crystal (including pint glasses) which means any cracks or chips can be blow torched and sanded down to give them a longer lifespan and the menu is printed on paper made from elephant ‘waste’ (yes you did read that correctly). Any ingredient wastage is repurposed for menu specials or used for bartender challenges to reduce anything with value being simply thrown away. 

“Sincerely kind service all in all. Effort was made to enquire about the day and what the plans were... which was followed up with further questions showing real care and a back and forth conversation.”

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