Bar Review: Jesus College

Despite the cheap G&T’s and sizeable cocktail menu, Violet‘s reviewer found Jesus’ bar “a bit soulless”

Eimear Ni Chathail

Jesus' bar, The Roost, was recently renovated N Chadwick

Jesus bar has a special place in my heart. I can’t remember now who first introduced me to its wonders, but for term upon term I have been enjoying its spacious drinking area and its cheap, cheap gin and tonics.

Returning for my fourth year, I felt a longing, a yearning, to return to its gentle bosom. A mere 24 hours after my return to Cambridge, I found myself wandering down Jesus’ long drive, turning left at the pony, and entering what had previously been for me a very special sanctuary in the heart of the bustling city.

It was a bit of a let down, to be honest. Well. Let down is a bit harsh, for I fear it is I who have changed, and not “The Roost”. But it just. . . wasn’t doing it for me this time. I mean, it was nice. God forbid I say it wasn’t nice.

Arriving at 8.15 (forty-five minutes late, as one of my eternally patient review pals noted with what I felt to be excessive acerbity) it was very quiet. Unusually quiet. One got the sense that the Jesus freshers had been herded en masse to some organised fun. The few customers in the bar were surrounded by comfy chairs, pot plants, and the gentle hum of what I was informed is called ‘Electro Swing’.

£3.25 gin and tonics proved to be no laughing matterEimear Ni Chathail

“e-LECTURER –swing”, I suggested with a nod and a wink. This did not go down well. Jesus Bar: Put Your Camcards In The Bowl? A futile dream, I fear.

Anyway. Bit meh. There were some lads reading through a musical score at a table beside us, and the rhythmical “bwop bwop bwop” at least added a bit of high culture to the proceedings. The building’s won architectural awards, apparently? I dunno, I personally rely on the old wall decorating to pad out what I’m sure you can see are incredibly well crafted pub reviews, and Jesus Bar was sadly lacking in these.

It all felt a bit soulless, a bit corporate, a bit, to be frank, hotel bar. In an effort to jazz it up a little, they have put pictures of the Jesus sports teams up in the interior section, but an inside Jesuan source (who refused to be named) claimed to be “somewhat sceptical” about the effect of this.

The gin and tonics are cheap though, you have to give them that. £3.25 for a double, although it was unclear whether I had convinced the bar man of my status as a Jesuan; the price can change slightly depending on how Welsh you look.

One of the older members of our party, sipping a lime cordial, announced it to be a “generous pour”, so, you know, that’s nice too – never let it be said the non-drinkers were left uncatered to.

Unfortunately the bus stop shaped smoking shelter led to a bit of confusion Eimear Ni Chathail

As the night went on, the bar filled up quickly with grads coming from their post-matriculation drinks and although this livened the place up a lot, it became impossible to hear each other. We attempted to shout across the tables between the comfy faux-leather sofas, but perhaps might have fared better at one of the tables. The downside of that, however, is that the wooden chairs look very playschool-esque, and we, of course, are mature and serious imbibers.

What had previously been the big advantage of Jesus Bar, the adjacent amphitheatre-cum-smoking-area, with its oddly tepid air vents, turned out to our great dismay to not be, and never have been, an amphitheatre-cum-smoking-area.


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It’s very much just an amphitheatre. We were herded (in a nice way) to a bus stop. Which is the smoking area. But not an actual bus stop. There is no Jesus bus. Very sad. Very confusing, really.

What also confuses me is why Jesus students are called Jesuans, and not Jesuits. Jesuits is ideal, Jesuits is perfect. Do they just hate the Catholics? Perhaps. On the plus side, they have a very fancy cocktail menu, and usually, although not on the night the review took place, Jesus Ale which is brewed right below the bar. And it is nice! And cheap!

But the Champion of the Thames, located just round the corner, and much more full of character, will always be home to me.