Drinking in Oxford

From pubs to clubs: A drinking guide to Oxford

Oxford has more than enough bars to keep its students hydrated!

As with anywhere with a large student population, there are plenty of watering holes in Oxford! Choose between traditional English pubs, classy cocktail bars and even a few student nightclubs. If you’ve worked up a thirst after wandering around the University, head to these hotspots for a well-deserved pint!
The Eagle and Child
Perhaps the most famous of all the Oxford pubs, the historic Eagle and Child was once the local for Oxonian greats C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and their literary club the Inklings. The Bird and Baby, as it’s been lovingly nicknamed by the students, is located right in the centre of the University grounds, near St John’s College. It was at the back of the pub, a private lounge called the ‘Rabbit Room’ that Tolkien, Lewis and friends would come every week to discuss their manuscripts. Decades later, Colin Dexter, who created Inspector Morse, would also come to the Eagle and Child for a few drinks. Today however, it’s just your regular pub serving a good old-fashioned English lunch and some award-winning ales.
Turf Tavern
You’ll have to poke around a bit to find Turf Tavern, but ask a local and they’ll be able to point you in the right direction. Originally built in the 13th century, the Turf Tavern has a long history of clandestine activities, from illegal cockfighting to binge-drinking Australian Prime Ministers. Other well-known visitors include Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Elizabeth Taylor and Tony Blair, as well as Inspector Morse in the long-running British television series. It’s popular with students for its large range of beers from all around the world, as well as its fresh and cheap meals. To find it, turn down New College Lane across from the Bodleian Library, then pass under the photogenic Bridge of Sighs and turn left into St Helen’s Passage.
The Bear Inn
The Bear Inn is Oxford’s oldest surviving pub, believed to date back to 1242. While the food and drinks here are as good as any other pub, it’s known more for its unusual décor. Adorning all the walls (and even the ceilings) are old school ties that the bar has been collecting since the 1950s. There are over 4,500 ties which have come from all over the world and represent sports teams, colleges and university clubs. You can even contribute too and hand in your old tie to add to the collection – you’ll be rewarded with a free pint of beer.
Angels Cocktail Bar
Oxford isn’t just all about pubs; it also has a few fancy cocktail bars as well. Angels Cocktail Bar on Little Clarendon Street is a beautiful wooden bar stocked full with spirits and offset by quirky vintage wallpaper. When presented with the innovative cocktail menu, you’re invited to chat with the bartenders to find out more about their unique drinks. Definitely try something from the Angels’ Lab list – the Wing Time 6 is vodka with fresh kiwi fruit and apple schnapps; La Cucuracha is a tequila concoction mixed with tropical fruits; and the Angels Rum Punch is their own one-of-a-kind punch bowl.
The Bridge
If you want to party with the Oxford locals, head to The Bridge, a bar and nightclub near Oxford Castle. It’s a large venue, with two dance floors, a VIP room, lounge bar and spacious garden that gets packed out on summer nights. The Bridge hosts regular club nights covering everything from pop to retro and R&B with resident DJs spinning tunes on weekends. It’s a bit upmarket with an entry fee and smart dress code. For special events you can organise VIP packages which includes bottle service and an exclusive guestlist.
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