Get away from the world in Birmingham’s new basement bar: Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar

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Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar located off of Morris Avenue is Birmingham’s newest basement bar. Photo provided by Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar

One of the newest additions to Birmingham’s bar scene is the clandestine Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar. The bar is located in the cellar of one of the oldest buildings in downtown Birmingham at 2015 1st Ave North.

Joe and Meg Phelps opened Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar on August 3, 2018. Photo by Holly Moore

The Dynamic Duo

Together Joe and Meg Phelps run the bar. Having been in the industry for fifteen years, Joe mentioned that bar owning was always a dream of his. It happened faster than he thought it would.

The iconic door that leads to the stairs that take you to the underground. Photo by Holly Moore

Candles drip from the walls of the cave-like  room and illustrations of calacas, a colloquial Spanish term for skeletons, line the walls, which supports the agave and tequila focused drinks. With a minimalist style, the bar has open seating. Due to a small occupant capacity, there is typically a line of people waiting outside the bar, but the line moves quickly and the wait is by far worth it. Although the strict rule supports a more intimate atmosphere.

Imagine bright lights, a bouncer, and a line of people giddy to walk down into the cellar.
Why Birmingham?

Joe and Meg moved away from Birmingham, but Joe kept his eyes on real estate in town, waiting for the perfect spot. The location in between Morris and 1st Avenue, became available and having always enjoyed basement bars, Joe remarked that everything just worked.

“Birmingham is a great city. We always dreamed of coming back home.”

The Phelps said that the positive response to the bar has “exceeded their expectations.”

Behind the name

“Pilcrow” is a typographical term for a new paragraph in print. It honors the history of the building, the original Caldwell Printing Works that was founded in 1881. Joe Phelps shared, that the cellar has only ever been a storage room. So the idea of naming it after the symbol of a new paragraph fits with the new beginnings of the cellar and the revitalization of Morris Avenue as a whole.

The Pilcrow symbol holds a lot of history and meaning to the place. Photo by Holly Moore
Upcoming events:

On Thursday evening (Sept. 6), Morris Avenue is putting on a Merchants on Morris Open House. Additionally, the Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar will be hosting Taylor Hollingsworth from 5:30 to 8:30 during the event. Pilcrow will also be opening early this weekend for the Artwalk. So stop by and have a refreshing margarita to stave off the heat.

In Joe Phelp’s words: “Come down and get lost. We’ll take care of you,” and he’s not wrong. The staff is kind and Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar has a unique vibe that is sure to surprise.

Average Price: $8-$11 (menu)

2015 1st Ave N #1e, Birmingham, AL 35203
(Door located in the alley behind the Essential.)

Sun + Mon (closed)
Tues-Thurs: 5pm-12am
Fri + Sat: 5pm-2am (They will be opening at 2pm for the art walk.)

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Holly Moore
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