Sir Alfred Bird created the eggless brand of Bird’s Custard due to his wife’s egg allergy. A true labour of love. Inspired by this concept, a new cocktail bar has launched in the former factory where the product was made until 1967.
These days The Custard Factory is better known in Digbeth for the array of bars, restaurants, shops and flea markets it has to explore. Passing Fancies stands out among them by creating something long-lasting out of love, just like the factory’s former owner.
Passing Fancies strays away from any set theme, however. There will be regular changes to the menu to keep attendees on their toes. The bar’s name is a nod towards this constant evolution, a vow by the owners to move with the times. With a design they only describe as “the kitchen at a house party”, the bar is at the centre of the venue and atmosphere – with room to accommodate 54 customers.
To begin with the bar will be serving a variety of drinks including Adonis (sherry, vermouth and aromatics), Champagne Crumble (lacto fig, rhubarb and champagne), Man Goes Next Door (mango, masala rum and greek yoghurt) and El Diablo (blackberry, tequila and ginger). A selection of wines will also be available, alongside beer options.
Passing Fancies is the latest venture for award-winning co-owner Tommy Matthews who made a name for himself at the acclaimed Edgbaston cocktail lounge, before moving on to the opening of Couch in Stirchley – the bar renowned for its TV-themed drinks, referencing everything from Ugly Betty to Twin Peaks, and that broke into the Top 50 cocktail bars for the first time in 2022.
He joins forces with Matt Arnold and Eve Green of The Edgbaston and Grain & Glass, respectively. The trio’s aim is to carve out its niche among a plethora of bars in the area by bringing an “approachable luxury” to Digbeth. Between the three of them, they have handfuls of awards and years of service experience.
“We have, for a long time, hoped to be able to use our passion for the industry to create a space that would provide a comforting and high-end experience for people to create long-lasting memories,” said Tommy Matthews. “We want Passing Fancies to represent not just a bar, but also a community.”
The first food on offer, following Passing Fancies opening (September 8), is provided by Dan Sweet. Dan is former chef at Michelin-starred Simpsons Restaurant in Edgbaston. He will serve dishes such as, smoked deep-fried potatoes, beignets with deep fried cheese and onion bites, a beetroot salad. The menu finishes with sweet options, including chocolate and pear choc ice and a garden of peach bavarois, peach salad and roasted almond.