There’s nothing we love more than slagging off a better-than-average college bar and condemning it into oblivion. Picking holes in the Ikea furniture, questionable playlists, rancid drinks and dreadful atmospheres of such establishments brings a certain sadistic pleasure to the Cherwell bar reviewer. It is with great regret, therefore, that we must report that New College bar so gloriously exceeds its collegiate competitors that even our usually bitchy souls can find little negative to say about this bar. Of course, it helps that New is one of the richest colleges.
The bar itself is decorated with an exceptionally tasteful hybridisation of the ancient castle structure with a modern aesthetic: the interior designers have reason to be proud. As New College is widely known as one of the poshest, it was no surprise to find the kids decked out in a sprightly collection of jodhpurs and Joules. Pity we prefer trackies.
Not only do they serve their ‘college drink’ in a martini glass, they also have three pages of other cocktails, smoothies and a fantastic stock of beers, ciders and spirits. The great first view really started to unravel, however, as we got down to the business at hand. For Cherwell, a good selection is not enough for high marks.
The thing is, it’s all just a bit try-hard and elitist. One major victorious quibble, however, comes with the not exactly cheap £5 cocktails. Despite being laboriously made in a cocktail shaker, more than half the martini glass was filled with cheap, uncrushed ring shaped ice that smacks of amateurism, and to be honest we could have made a better drink at home. I mean, £5 is fine when Daddy is footing the bill – which seems to be the signature aesthetic of this bar, which, to be honest far outshines most of the other Oxford ones because of how much the alumni (?) have spent doing it up. The Cherwell Bar Review Team certainly does not support a bar which is more expensive than the majority of pubs in this expensive town. Marks docked.
The New College Smile, their signature drink, divided opinions – while the putrid purple colour was at first weirdly appealing, the taste was unpleasantly reminiscent of dissolved blackcurrant starbursts, and the overload of blue Curaçao left us unimpressed. It was at this point that we realised New College bar has a slight identity crisis – they’re aiming to compete with the likes of House and All Bar One, and yet are not quite hitting the mark, with corners cut in drink quality and professionalism.