College Bar Crawl: Clare Cellars

Another stop in the college bar crawl: this week it's Clare Cellars.

As venues go, Clare Cellars is hard to beat; underground, atmospheric brick archways, plush black leather sofas dotted around…pretty damn cool for a college bar. And dare we forget the added kudos of it being underneath the college chapel. The intimacy of Cellars is nice, but at the same time if there’s one major complaint to be had about the bar it’s that it can get very cramped. As anyone who has ventured there on an ‘Ent’ night will know, when Cellars are at capacity it’s sweaty, it’s squished and it takes you way too long to get a drink. Plus turn up 20 minutes after the rush you’re not going to get in, cue wasted night and prelash ending at Old Court gate as stressed freshers try and calm down angry drunk people who want in right now and don’t understand why they’re not allowed.

That said, Fridays are an exception. There aren’t the biggest crowds this side of the Spice Girls reunion concert bawling to get into Clare Cellars on your run-of-the-mill weekday. Cellars is fairly tame in general. Aside from occasional post-swap messes it’s decidedly low key; you can even have a full on conversation while reclining on one of those very nice leather sofas. If you do want to do laps of the bar dressed as a lion while singing Ave Maria though you’re probably ok as well. The bar staff are pretty decent when it comes to too much wine and letting the customers get on with whatever they are going to really regret tomorrow. Mostly because they quite enjoy laughing at them.

Can’t criticise the prices either: it’s not Sidney Sussex cheap but £1.80 for a Gin and Tonic ain’t bad; pint of Becks is £1.90 and £1.50 a shot at Fridays shooters bar is always a win. Quick heads up about the bar wine though – don’t do it. Seriously, just don’t. I’ve never understood why a college bar could have such disgusting wine but it does. £5 a bottle and half a glass makes you want to vomit. Better off with Basics guys.

Completely student run, the keen little beans in charge have been being oh-so-entrepreneurial recently and organising ‘theme nights’ to drum up customer numbers. So far there’s been black tie casino night, bar quiz and er…film night (yeah, no one really went to that). Upcoming excitement I’m promised includes ‘Clare’s Got Talent’ so kudos to the bar committee for making the effort to put on something a little different. Nice break to the midweek monotony of lectures and essay fails.

As college bars go, Clare is one of the better ones. Facilities wise they’ve got the widescreen TV, table football, a surprisingly underused darts board and way too overused pool table. The Cellars themselves are a fabulously atmospheric venue. Prices are good and the banter’s up there. Great place to pop in to chill for a bit. Happy hour is 7.30 till 9.30 and it’s well worth a visit, even if just to see what all the fuss is about (under the chapel! Under the chapel! There’s pillars and archways and everything, it’s very exciting). Friday is Ents night – drum and bass – but get there early if you want to get in and theme nights pop up now and again to make things more interesting. Just remember to stay away from the rat-piss bar wine and all will be well.

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