Last week I went to my second Brum Bloggers event at the sparkly and pink Ana Rocha Bar in the Jewellery Quarter. How did I get on this time around?
It seems like ages ago that I nervously approached the Gin Vault for my first ever Brum Bloggers event. I’d never met any of the other bloggers before, wasn’t really engaging on Twitter as much as I should and had never attended an event where I could really help support and promote a new venue. I left the event proud I’d attended and pleased I’d contributed but still slightly frustrated with myself that my natural shyness had held me back from talking to many people.
This time around, thanks to increased Twitter engagement and following a whole new bunch of Brum Bloggers, I knew that others were attending for the very first time, and nervousness and social anxiety was by no means unique to me. I knew this time around, there would be familiar faces. I also knew that during these events, hiding behind your phone or your camera is perfectly acceptable should you need to take a bit of time out from socialising.
So I approached the relatively new Jewellery Quarter bar Ana Rocha with a little less trepidation, and a little less anxiety. And a bit of a limp as my favourite knee high boots appeared to have shrunk overnight and were hugging my legs with a new elastic band like quality. But I digress. I bumped into a familiar face outside in the form of Sinead (aka cheekimummy) and we were escorted through the fine art, antiques and curios (Disney lamp anyone? A snip at £41,000) before being introduced to our host Jose, kindly allowing a bunch of Brum Bloggers to take over his bar and gallery for the evening.
I recognise three ladies sitting at a high table, not because we’ve met face-to-face before, but because we’ve all tweeted previously about how nervous these events make us. These are kindred spirits. And over the course of the evening, these ladies, previously strangers, hiding behind online words and a Twitter handle, become friends. An evening that starts with shy hellos and polite small talk ends with hugs and promises to catch up soon. My new friends may not all be native to Birmingham, but they share a love and a passion for the city they’ve chosen to call home. My city, my home.
The event: A “Tweet to Eat” night. Ting and Laura, the lovely ladies behind the recently revitalised Brum Bloggers group, work hard to coordinate these nights, getting a bar or restaurant to let us sample their venue in return for promoting it through Twitter. Ana Rocha, and The Gin Vault before it, provided us with free tapas; we, the ever-tweeting Brum Bloggers provided them with a trending hashtag on Twitter (only knocked down the trends list by Great British Bake Off!). People browsing Twitter would see Ana Rocha trending, see posts, photos and opinons by some of the big names in the Birmingham bloggers scene (and some of the small names too, with a small but loyal following…) and hopefully think “hmmm, that place looks like fun, let’s visit…” It’s also likely that, having received a warm welcome on our bloggers event, we would be likely to return, bringing our partners, friends, workmates.
The place: Ana Rocha Bar and Gallery is a crazy mix between elegant cocktail bar, tapas restaurant, art gallery and antiques shop. It also handles luxury property rentals in Spain should you want to book a holiday along with your margarita. It was very very pink the night we went – hence my quite terrible photographs. There’s plenty of objets d’art to browse, scattered amongst the tables. The bar specialises in both classic and signature cocktails and each one was presented beautifully. Not wanting to get too tipsy on a “school night”, I stuck to an old favourite, the margarita, followed by a quite amazing gin cocktail (Gallicia?) made with the Spanish Nordés Gin – I’m no gin connoisseur but this is good stuff.
It’s definitely a bar where you can enjoy the whole experience; the staff, from the doorman and bar staff, all the way to Jose and to the bar’s muse Ana Rocha herself, all seem to take great pride in the venue, taking time to explain the concept, the artwork and the cocktails.
The food almost took a back seat to the cocktails, the chat and the general ambience of the bar. Small tapas dishes were laid out – first for photograph purposes, and finally on tables for us to sample. The patatas bravas, hummus with pita bread, ham croquettes and cured meats went down well, perfect bite-sized morsels to soak up the alcohol. I’d definitely like to sample more.
The verdict: A wow venue, with fantastic cocktails, definitely worth a visit! With or without Brum Bloggers in tow…
Our tapas was provided on a complimentary “Tweet to Eat” basis; I paid for my cocktails myself (and they were worth every penny).
Ana Rocha Bar and Gallery, 48 Frederick Street, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham B1 3HN
Sunday to Thursday 11am to 11pm
Friday and Saturday 12noon to 12midnight
Kitchen opens 12noon to 11pm daily