Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar adds live music, plus 5 other things you should know about Birmingham’s underground bar

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Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar. Photo by Taylor Babington for Bham Now

You’ve probably heard about Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar, Birmingham’s underground bar that opened last summer. The Founder’s Station watering hole is bringing a distinctive vibe to the bar scene downtown. We spoke with the owner, Joe Phelps, to learn more about it. 

There’s live music (most weeks)

Live music at Pilcrow. Photo courtesy of Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar

Are you into surf rock? Jazz? Something else? Pilcrow now has shows representing a variety of genres most weeks on Wednesday or Thursday. Visit their Instagram @pilcrowcocktail to see what’s coming up. Local pop-rock band HelioHeart is playing July 25–more info here.

It’s located in a historic building on Morris Ave.

The entrance to Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar. Photo by Taylor Babington for Bham Now

The building where Pilcrow is located is 150 years old. It originally housed Caldwell Printing Works, a Birmingham printing press that started in 1881. The name of the bar is a nod to this history:

“The pilcrow signifies a new paragraph. We’re a small paragraph in a long history.”

Joe Phelps, owner of Pilcrow Cocktail cellar

Fun fact: The first floor of the building was lifted two feet to make room for the bar. Pilcrow’s unique design was recently recognized by AIA Birmingham with a Merit Award

There’s something for everyone

Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar. Photo by Taylor Babington for Bham Now

While the bar is known for its agave spirits, one of the most popular drinks here is the Ampersand Collins, a twist on a Tom Collins (read: gin). They also serve wine and beer, so there’s something for everyone. 

According to Phelps, “If it’s 1:00 a.m. and you want to come in for a Modelo and a shot we can do that, but we can also do creative craft cocktails.” Tequila-lovers, take note: they’ll soon have a full tequila menu, flights included. 

If you don’t love tequila, this is the place to give it another shot

Phelps said he enjoys introducing people to tequila or reintroducing it to those who think they don’t like it. He fell in love with tequila and mezcal when driving through Texas several years ago. (Texas had a much larger selection of good tequilas in its bars and package stores than Alabama at the time). “It’s a labor-intensive process to make it, and you can’t help but respect it. From the growth and harvest of the agave plant to the distillation process, tequila is one of the hardest spirits to make,” he said. 

The ingredients are fresh

Mezcal Margarita and Huegel Margarita at Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar. Photo by Taylor Babington for Bham Now

The juice at Pilcrow is fresh-squeezed every day. That’s not something you can find at every bar, and you can definitely taste the difference. Try one of their margaritas and see for yourself.

It’s laid back 

We’ve all been to a pretentious cocktail bar and felt intimidated by the menu–Pilcrow is, thankfully, not that place. The staff is super knowledgeable, and they encourage people to ask questions about the drinks and spirits they offer. 

Have you tried Pilcrow yet? Tip: You might have heard about the lines when the bar first opened, but they can accommodate more people now. Check it out!

Hours: Monday-Thursday 4:00 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday 4:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Location: 2015 1st Ave N #1e, Birmingham, AL 35203

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