How to recreate your college’s signature drink at home

The how-to guide everybody has been clamouring for is finally here

With the alarming alliteration of ‘global gloom’ threatening to prolong our glorious return to Cambridge and the homes-away-from-home that our colleges have come to be, I have found myself craving the comforting atmosphere of my college bar. If you, like me, are desperate to cling to those better days of procrastinating supo work by popping down to the bar for a few drinks, inevitably bumping into everyone you know and then accidentally not leaving until 2am, want to put a gown on and relive those quick post-formal, pre-Cindies top-ups, or just have some time to waste, look no further! Here is the ultimate* guide to recreating your college’s signature cocktail at home.

*not at all comprehensive, entirely subjective, and probably inaccurate

Quick disclaimer: I have no cocktail knowledge, skills or equipment. The only things which tenuously qualify me to write this article are 1) I have tried all the drinks in their original forms, and 2) I have trendy welly-boot glasses (which can also function as a substitute personality trait instead of ‘I go to CaMbRiDgE’). These recipes are quite imprecise but if you want to crack out the cocktail shaker and martini glasses, go right ahead.

Drink 1 – Girton

One of the beautiful things about lockdown is that you can enjoy Girton College’s very own Green Monster without even having to get on your bike!

You will need blue curacao, vodka and Red Bull. This is a pretty easy drink to replicate, provided you have a big enough glass – mine was too small, so I had to keep drinking it and topping up with Red Bull to get the proportions right to achieve that delicious, attractive green colour. Simply pour in a shot or two of curacao, the same of vodka, and top up with a can of Red Bull! I’m not going to pretend this is the tastiest drink in the world – it is usually improved by a healthy amount of wine at formal first – but if you zoom-call your friends, this drink will always guarantee a good time. It’s not the strongest drink on the list but the Red Bull does give it some edge. (I would certainly not recommend if you are planning on sleeping, but, hey, lockdown sleeping patterns are a joke anyway, right?)

Shout-out to my trusty co-op own brand vodka – the first of many appearances

To recreate the bar: BONUS you don’t have to! You are already isolated from society!

Drink 2 – Downing

If you expected authenticity, I can only apologise, as the next drink is the first to be subject to my own modifications. I didn’t want to waste port on a cocktail, even if it is the infamous Downing Machete.

To make the original, you will need 2 shots of port, 1 shot of gin, 2 shots of cherry sourz, and coca-cola. My highly technical method was to put them all in a glass, you can even add ice if you’re feeling extravagant! For my version, I substituted the port and cherry sourz for 3 shots of cherry brandy, because my gap year got off to a rocky start, and now I have an abundance of homemade liqueurs. I know I liked my version better than when I tried the real thing, because I didn’t throw this one on the floor. This is a strong drink that essentially tastes like alcoholic cherry cola, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend ‘downing’ it.

Looking for a lockdown activity? Try making your own liqueurs!

To recreate the bar: I do not remember much of Downing Bar or the rest of the night once I got there, but you can ask a family member to bar your access to the house unless you write down your name and are given a visitor wristband.

Drink 3 – Clare

When I first ordered a Stone Cold at Clare, the guy behind the bar gave me a cheeky smile and an eyebrow raise, asking “Sure…how strong would you like that?”. The rest of the night is somewhat hazy.

The recipe I was given was explicitly flexible because apparently “it changes every time”, so feel free to interpret this loosely (as I have unashamedly done with every other drink). You will need a few shots of spirit (I think my first one was whisky), blue VK, and half a pint of cider. The thought of having VK in the house on my own during lockdown just seemed too sad, so I used blue curacao, since I’d bought it already, and a combination of vodka and brandy. It seems like the goal of this drink is to fit as much alcohol in a single glass as possible and hope it turns out green, so take liberties and proceed with caution. This is not a nice drink – one does not drink it for the taste – but one my 16-year old sister absolutely loved, which is lucky as I decided to make a whole jugful.

The Stone Cold was too much for my welly alone to handle

To recreate the bar: get your family involved! Get everyone to crowd onto a sofa so there’s no space for you and you have to stand.

Drink 4 – Jesus

This next drink has a biblical name that sent me down a fascinating Wikipedia rabbit hole because obviously, I wanted this to be an informed, well-researched article, so Jesus College’s Jesubelle provides a theological education in addition to the cocktail.

You will need vodka, cranberry juice and lychee juice; however, since I couldn’t even get hold of the latter in Waitrose(!), orange juice makes an excellent substitute. In my brother’s words, “I can almost taste the lychee”. Use about two shots of vodka and equal parts of the cranberry and orange juices. This drink is much cheaper to make at home – alas The Roost is quite expensive – and it is downright delicious. You cannot really taste the alcohol, and this fruity drink is perfect for a summer evening. It’s so good that I have already made it twice since.

The original comes in a fancy glass and was made in a cocktail shaker, but the trusty welly does the trick.

To recreate the bar: this is near-impossible because Jesus Bar feels like an actual pub and those are all closed, so please don’t break lockdown and just enjoy a good drink at home!

Drink 5 – Trinity

Finally, the drink which started this whole endeavour: the enigmatic Trinity Blue.

I have no idea what is in a real Trinity Blue, and nor did anyone I asked, so I just sort of made this one up. It is essentially something sweet and blue topped up with something fizzy, and the only discernible taste defies description other than simply blue. So, without further ado, you will need blue curacao and lemonade. This is the simplest and weakest drink on the list, but this recreation is actually quite good. It’s a darker, prettier blue, and, thanks to the nice citrus combination of both ingredients, tastes less artificial than the original.

A lesson in Advanced Mixology

To recreate the bar: go and find a cupboard to sit in (Trinity Bar is deceptively tiny) and maybe watch a maths lecture to emulate the typical background chatter.

So, call some friends, get mixing, and justify my procrastination. Cheers!

Please drink responsibly.

Image Credits: Rachel Armitage