Sophie makes high-quality judgements based on the most important aspects of a good cocktail: taste, appearance, value for money and overall vibes in the barJem Ward with permission for varsity

It was during my first week at Cambridge, after finding out about the magical phenomenon of the college cocktail, when I decided that my true calling in life was to visit all of the University’s college bars. I was reliably informed that it’s actually Easter term (with most bars having at max about 6 people in them at a time, who would have guessed?), but, in spite of the challenges posed by this, I was still determined to explore my burning passion for mixology and achieve my dreams before the end of the year.

Before I bring you on my treacherous adventure of trying to sneak through as many college plodges as I can in a week, I would like to make a few disclaimers. Firstly, I have not included any postgraduate or mature colleges on my list (or Girton because I couldn’t be arsed to travel for an hour just to try one drink). Secondly, my reviews are most definitely not fair or based on any sort of reputable rating system other than my feelings about the drink on the night that I tried it. I have tried my best to consider what I believe to be the most important aspects of a good cocktail: taste, appearance, value for money and overall vibes in the bar. So, without further ado, while I mourn the death of both my liver and my bank account, read on to discover which signature college cocktail trumps the rest.

St Catharine’s: Fire Engine – 4 stars

As Catz is my own college, the Fire Engine will definitely be getting extra points for bias. The combination of blackcurrant squash and lemonade is perhaps a little bit sweet for some people’s taste, but the mix of gin and vodka definitely makes it a drink that’s always reliable when you’re pre-ing for Wednesday Revs. Although it’s technically just glorified “squadka”, at £2.24 who can complain?

“It’s technically a glorified squadka”

Clare: Stone Cold – 2.5 stars

The Stone Cold is ambiguous in both flavour and colour, an uncertainty that definitely takes away from the experience of drinking this cocktail. Although it is refreshing and sippable, it is (this is a running theme throughout my findings) a little bit too sweet for me. Although you do get a whole pint of cocktail, for a price of £5.50 I would expect the ratio of alcohol to luminous blue sugary liquid to be balanced a little better.

Pembroke – 0 stars

Pembroke only gets such a low rating because a porter chased me out of college before I’d even managed to make it to the other side of Old Court. But before he did, he gave me his own very convincing review – that the bar is closed most of the time, and when it is open, it’s not really worth going to anyway.

Queens’: Queens’ Green 3 stars

Having arrived at Queens’ already a few drinks in, my review of the Queens’ Green may admittedly be a little bit skewed. I must say that I never thought I’d be tasting Midori and Jaeger in the same drink, but I can respect the dedication to being unique (the alarming fluorescent green colour definitely adds to this). The alcohol to mixer ratio is pretty good for the price of £5 but, to quote a friend who was also there to sample the drink: “it’s not worth it. You can get drunk in so many better ways”. Bonus points for the wide variety of drinks on offer though. I would definitely recommend getting a Hugo Spritz to take out and drink by the Cam very romantic.

“This drink puts shame on Carol Vorderman’s name”

Christ’s: Cupid’s Kiss 3.5 stars

Sidney’s cocktails are very student-friendly, but there are definitely better, more underrated, options elsewhere in CambridgeJem Ward with permission for varsity

The first sip of this cocktail actually changed my life. Okay, maybe that’s slightly dramatic, but after a week of trying lemonade and orange juice based drinks, this mix of vodka, apricot brandy, blueberry syrup, vanilla syrup and lemon juice definitely takes the cake when it comes to taste. Presented in a coupe glass with a sweet little purple ribbon around the stem, the Cupid’s Kiss feels like an incredibly classy drink. Having said this, the £9.10 price point for a drink that was finished in 3 sips was most definitely not worth it, even in spite of the luxury experience.

Jesus: Glow Fish, Tubular Rum 4 stars

JBar is like if Christ’s bar was actually made for students. Set at a slightly more reasonable £7.50 price point for non-Jesus members, the wide variety of cocktails available did not disappoint. The two that we opted for were the ‘Glow Fish’ and the ‘Tubular Rum’, both of which were well-presented and felt very fun to drink. I will also be awarding bonus points for the really cool menu and just generally good vibes in the bar.

Sidney Sussex: Sex on the Cam, the Vorderman 3 stars

This term marked my first ever visit to Sid bar (shocking, I know) and I have to say that I do understand the hype. The busiest bar I’ve been to all Easter term (although some might say too busy), Sid bar has brilliant prices and brilliant vibes. The famous Sex on the Cam has a friendly £3.40 price tag and is a pretty reliable option with its tropical flavour and mix of vodka and peach schnapps. On the other hand, major points had to be deducted for the atrocity that is the Vorderman. I would go as far as to say this drink a sort of worse vodka cranberry puts shame on Carol’s name. Overall, I think that Sidney’s cocktails are very student-friendly, but there are definitely better, more underrated, options elsewhere in Cambridge.

John’s: various drinks – 5 stars


Mountain View

How to get the most out of Cambridge before the end of the year

John’s definitely gets the most points for variety: a whole menu of signature cocktails, as well as frozen daiquiris, Pimm’s and much more. Each cocktail was £4.50 for a glass and the unique addition of a pitcher for £9 really puts John’s in my good books. I opted for the School’s Out, but I also got to try the frozen drinks and Pimms all of which I couldn’t really fault. The highlight of my visit to John’s were the super friendly bartenders, who even gave us a free mocktail to try.

And with that concludes the first part of this fruity alcoholic adventure. Keep your eyes peeled for the hotly anticipated part 2 which will be out very soon (or whenever I can find people to help me get into the rest of the bars).