Aman Johal spent years in the UK’s finest drinking establishments, from Manchester to Nottingham to London. But, whenever he was back home to his beloved Birmingham, he couldn’t find a cocktail bar that quite hit the spot. That’s when he decided to create his own – and the results have been nothing short of spectacular.
At 40 St Paul’s on Birmingham’s St Paul’s Square, Aman, and his team are serving best-in-class cocktails and G&Ts and winning awards that in prior years would have gone straight to the behemoth bars of London.
“Although Birmingham had bars with great gin collections, we didn’t have a bar that really focused on the spirit, from menu creation to the quality of the ice,” says Aman. “I wanted to create a venue where I’d personally love to go and spend three or four hours – somewhere cool, relaxed, with impeccable service and great knowledge. That’s what we’ve created at 40 St Pauls, and this vision stays with me at all times when I’m welcoming customers.”
Now the winner of “Best Gin Menu in the UK” at the Imbibe Awards and “Best Gin Bar in the UK” at the Icons of Gin Awards, it’s safe to say that Aman’s vision is now a reality.
With just 24 seats, this top-calibre gin joint is intimate and relaxed, with a chic art deco interior and artistry in everything from the cocktails to the food menu to the impeccably-curated list of 140 gins. 40 St Paul’s is Aman’s amazing little world, and an evening here is like a fabulous party of like-minded friends and beautiful gins.
“We always look into the narrative behind the drink,” says Aman of how bottles end up on his menu. “So many gins are a passion project for their creators, and we love that.”
Likewise, this bar is a true passion for its creator. But, while Aman may be raking in the awards, he isn’t looking for world domination just yet. Rather, he’s enjoying his bar’s status as the best-kept secret in the world of gin – and the best gin bar in his hometown.
He says, “Birmingham is genuinely a world-class place that still feels like a hidden secret – a bit like 40 St Paul’s! That's reflected by the people who call this city home, as well as the people who are choosing Birmingham to be their next great adventure. The talent here is phenomenal and it's an incredible feeling to be a part of that.”
But that’s not to say that Aman is resting on his laurels. This month will see the launch of 40 St Paul’s new gin menu, which will be accompanied by a little refurbishment of the bar’s interior and a series of elegant events.
“We've got an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime gin joining our list,” smiles Aman, “and some really interesting events coming up. You'll just have to follow us on social media to keep up with the exciting things we do!”
In the meantime, whip up one of the incredible signature cocktails that helped make 40 St Pauls the best gin bar in the UK!
Place all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake short and sharp. Serve in a short stem cocktail glass (or in a trophy, as they do at 40 St Paul’s!).
20ml fino Sherry
15ml rhubarb & rosehip cordial
20ml cold press Yorkshire tea
10ml lemon juice
10ml apple juice