If you’re on the hunt for a cosy local boozer to snuggle up fireside, a speakeasy-style cocktail bar, or a blow-out bespoke experience, Cambridge has a surprising variety of pubs, bars and distilleries. We’ve rounded up a few of the best drinking dens in and around the city centre.
The Free Press Pub.
Best for: tucking yourself away with a dog-eared book and a scotch egg.
Possibly the snuggest, cosiest pub in Cambridge, the Free Press is hidden away in the back lanes behind Parker’s Piece. Its name originates from the printing press that used to stand there and, which after just one newspaper was published. Still, print isn’t dead here – the walls are plastered with old newspaper pages and maps charting the evolution of the city. You’ll also find hands-down the best scotch egg in town.
7 Prospect Row, Cambridge CB1 1DU
Best for: a spot of virtuous indulgence that you can tell your HIIT instructor about.
The acid-bright interiors of this restaurant and cocktail bar, located just off Market Passage in the city centre, are a hint as to its drinks offering: vibrant, fruity, with a bit of something stronger. With a food menu by the Veto Meato vegan street food concept, its cocktail menu is equally vegan-friendly and puts fruity concoctions centre stage – think dirty banana colada, and a non-alcoholic spiced apple spritz for the tee-totallers. It also has a decent-sized al fresco area.
10-15 Market Passage, Cambridge CB2 3PF
The Eagle Pub.
Best for: raising a pint (of spirits?) to the city’s pioneering spirit.
Alright, we’ll admit: this is probably the most famous, and therefore the most touristy pub in Cambridge. However, it’s with good reason: with a history stretching back to 1667, this is where Watson and Crick announced that they had worked out the structure of DNA and where WW2 RAF pilots got drunk, built human pyramids and scrawled all over the ceiling. If you don’t feel quite up to the task of reprising their legacy, pull up a seat in the courtyard and savour its storied atmosphere with a simple pint instead.
Bene't St, Cambridge CB2 3QN
Best for: date-night details and choose-your-own-adventure cocktails.
This cosy independent cocktail lounge is the closest you’ll get to speakeasy vibes in Cambridge, hidden in the basement of Victorian-era Roman baths. This place prides itself on its top-shelf spirits and creative concoctions, promising to recreate cocktails from a special time in your life upon request and serving up twists on classic combinations. They also put on live music, dance classes and cocktail classes.
7b Jesus Ln, Cambridge CB5 8BA
Best for: trying to befriend a local dog (or taking your own) in the soft Cambridge sunshine.
You’ll have to make a bit of a pilgrimage outside of the city centre to reach The Punter, but it’s a journey that its fiercely loyal clientele of, er, punters are happy to undertake. You’ll find a relaxed crowd of arty types, dog owners, postgrads and locals who come for its “cheerfully baggy” vibe, as well as solid pub grub (complete with vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free options), seasonally changing ale and outdoor spaces including a barn, terrace and quirky courtyard.
3 Pound Hill, Cambridge CB3 0AE
Best for: feeling like you’ve really earned that afternoon G&T.
If you’re after something a bit more bespoke than your generic pint, the Cambridge Distillery offers interactive masterclasses during the weekend, where you can discover first-hand how they use the freshest botanicals to create products such as truffle and Japanese gin. And if you really want to be extra, you can book a “tailoring” session with their Master Distiller, who will create a bespoke gin recipe based on your preferences that you can order by the case