- The Varsity Club
Set over 4 floors including a rooftop bar with stunning views, The Varsity Club runs away with the prize for the most attractive cocktail bar. Chic and cool with cocktails served from midday to midnight, this is the place to be. The drinks are original, ranging from a “Maple”, (maple, peppercorn and clove syrup, honey tequila and bitters sprayed leaf) to an equally complex “Habenero” (chilli and vanilla vodka, pink pigeon rum, lime Juice, vanilla sugar, orange juice and bitters).
Offers: Two for £9; Monday to Friday midday-7pm, all day Sunday.
Strangest cocktail: “Beetroot”; beet shrub, tomato juice, vodka, aperol, worcester, tobasco and horseradish.
2. The Duke of Cambridge
The hub of Little Clarendon Street, the Duke of Cambridge’s popularity pays testament to its quality. The pub-like exterior is deceptive; inside, it’s decorated with fairy lights entwined in branches and low tables create booths down the length of the room. Cheaper than the Varsity Club – with arguably just as good a cocktail menu – you can’t go far wrong with this classic.
Offers: happy hour, 5-9pm Sunday-Thursday, 5-7:30pm Friday-Saturday, all hours Sunday-Thursday with an Oxford Union Card.
Best named cocktail: “Big Mac”; Jim Beam bourbon and berry liqueur with lime, raspberry and cranberry juice.
Down the road from the Duke of Cambridge, the interior of Raoul’s is not overwhelming but the drinks speak for themselves. Raoul’s will present you with the biggest cocktail menu you’ve ever seen; they claim to use more fruit than any other bar in Oxford. This is where you’ll find the cocktails of the very best quality.
Offers: 30 per cent off; 4-8pm with anOxford Union card.
Best dessert-turned-cocktail: “Banoffee Pieface”; banana blended with vanilla sugar, lime, toffee sauce and rum.
Angels is the smallest bar on the list and bursts with character. It leaves you with an overwhelming impression of pink – the walls, the lighting, even the seats are a deep cosy pink. While not necessarily the classiest bar in Oxford, it’s definitely dependable and always busy. The drinks menu is almost as long as Raoul’s and the cocktails are almost as inventive as The Varsity Club. Almost.
Offers: “Heavenly Hour”; 4.30-9pm every day.
Best twist on a classic: “Passion Fruit Martini”; vodka, passion fruit and passion fruit purée shaken (not stirred) with vanilla syrup.
Near the bottom of Walton Street, Freud majestically stands out as the most unusual cocktail bar in Oxford. Set inside an old church, huge pillars mark the outside in an acro- politan fashion and inside high ceilings and stained glass make your evening un- forgettable. Cocktails are good value and they also offer a mean food menu – think mediterranean platters and feta pizzas.
Offers: few and far between
Strongest cocktail: “Homeboy”; white rum, apricot brandy, triple sec, orange and pineapple.