As far as the grapevine extends, it has been said that anyone buying a Balliol Blue in the Lindsay bar is either a tourist or a moron. However, what they may not tell you is that beyond the sickeningly sweet blue hues of their most (in)famous drink lies another gem: the Combine Harvester, possibly the most divisive cocktail ever to grace a college bar. Containing a lethal mix of ginger beer, Somersby cider, three shots of vodka and two shots of port, it is indisputably good for getting smashed, but only if you’re already drunk enough that you will literally down anything. Balliol’s drinks are known for their low prices on Tuesdays, but if you’re looking for quality, just give this one a miss.
To put it into perspective, the experience of drinking a Combine Harvester is like Bridge Thursday: your friends tell you it’s a great idea and it looks snazzy on the outside, but it has a disconcerting smell, and it usually ends in vomit. The flavours come in stages: first, the sweet taste of cider washes over your tongue, lowering your guard. It’s like the “free trial” period everyone enjoys before you’re in a pyramid scheme. Like rowing for the first time, for the first five seconds, you may think, “This is alright, I wonder why people hate this?”, until the disappointment hits.
The flavour is completely overpowered by the rich taste of port, except that the fizz from the cider still remains. Just imagine drinking watered down fizzy port, or the taste of sweet plums clashing with sour apples, and you’ll come pretty close to the mess that is the first layer. This only lasts for a few seconds before the flavour ebbs away, and for a moment, you think the ordeal is over, but no – there is more to come.
The ginger beer mixer and vodka, previously masked by the more strongly flavoured drinks, now enter the scene. Instead of providing the sweet tang of ginger and the smoothness of vodka, one can only detect the foul aftertaste of some unknown E number and concentrated boot polish, which is a taste not even a Bud Light drinker could love.
Why any respectable Oxford student would subject themselves to this omnishambles of a drink is completely beyond us. Then again, kebab van stash is a thing too.
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