The Twisted Vine & Birmingham Cellars

The Twisted Vine & Birmingham Cellars

Rockin Blues in Derby, who woulda thunk?

We decided to prowl the streets of Derby on Saturday evening looking for an interesting place for a cocktail and some nibbles. Surprisingly, the downtown restaurant area was packed but we eventually found a parking spot several blocks away. That trek gave us the chance to explore a bit. The warm Indian Summer evening found us strolling past a ballroom dance venue reminiscent of the 40’s with couples energetically and gracefully moving around the dance floor. Next up was a local joint frequented by the younger crowd and known for their wings and cheap drinks. Crossing the street we came upon the historic 1892 Old Birmingham Bank building which is now the beautiful home of The Twisted Vine; an Italian restaurant housed on the impressive main floor where the original bank vault still remains. Not wanting something so formal, we make our way down a set of worn slate stairs to Birmingham Cellars, Twisted Vine’s Lounge.  Entering, we find a cozy bar area with low ceilings, comfortable stools, soft lighting and live music. Wanting to enjoy the band, we found seats at the far end of the bar so we can easily cut a rug if so inclined.  Bill, our friendly barkeep, welcomed us and  quickly dispatched Dave’s Corona and a shot of Jameson then set to work on my Cosmo.  While creating my martini, Bill explained the nuances of the classic drink which was resurrected by those feisty ladies of Sex and the City fame. 

Chatting with Bill we discovered that Birmingham Cellars has a sizeable Martini menu developed by Christen, another barkeep of the evening.  Sipping my Cosmo (it was delightful) we discussed the variety of seasonal Martinis that are available at this time of the year.  Next thing I knew Bill had shook up a surprise sample for us to try.  Consisting of apple vodka, butterscotch liquor and a splash of cranberry, the Caramel Apple Martini tasted as if I was biting into a freshly made caramel apple minus the crunch.  Now, you’ve read enough of our stories to know that Dave is a Labatt Blue guy to the core, wink, wink, but he has an excellent palate and thoroughly enjoyed the martini sample.Wink

Now that we had great drinks in front of us we turned our attention to the foot tapping music coming from the dining room.  Peeking around the wall we found the dining area beautifully set with crisp white linens, sparkling glasses, silverware and…”Murray The Wheel”, a trio of rockin’ blues guys who were throwing down some of the best blues and rock we’ve heard from a local band in a very long time. Comprised, on this evening, of founder Tim Keenan aka Murray, Day the bassist and Joe the drummer, “Murray the Wheel” played a wide selection of covers from artists like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimmy Hendrix, Eric Clapton, CCR and ZZ Top. 


Murray The Wheel Rockin' Blues

Murray The Wheel Rockin Blues


With a selection like that we were soon on the dance floor.  And the boys in the band were happy to take requests which meant Mustang Sally soon had Dave and I moving our feet to that classic tune. Song after song, these guys rocked the steadily growing audience as the cozy dining room morphed into “Club Birmingham.”  From a group of 20-something guys celebrating a friends upcoming nuptials, to couples out for the evening, the laughter and high spirits invoked by the fast-paced playlist had us smiling and breathless in no time. 

Feeling a bit hungry, we asked Bill what the best dish in the house might be.  Without missing a beat, he recommended the penne with fresh sautéed spinach, garlic and sausage accompanied by toasted, herbed garlic bread.  “Oh my God, this is incredible” and “it’s just so smooth” were but a couple of our comments as the heaping dish full of penne, spinach and sausage was quickly polished off.  And the bread came in handy to sop up the delicious broth we found under the pasta.  Oh, yeah!  That hit the spot!  Unfortunately, my battery died so no pics are available so you’ll just have to try it for yourself.

After dancing to a few more tunes, we eventually we had to bid adieu to Murray and the guys along with Bill and Christen at the bar.  Exhausted but happy, we made our way home promising ourselves that we’ll bring some friends on our next visit.  The Twisted Vine and Birmingham Cellars are a couple more gems to check out from our list of great places to enjoy a cocktail or two.  And, if you’re lucky, Murray The Wheel might be rockin’ out that night, too.  Cheers!


The Twisted Vine & Birmingham Cellars – 285 Main Street, Derby, CT  203-734-2462

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