Oxford has been suffering from a lack of decent drinking places over the last few years. Popular pubs have been taken over by chains, some good and some very not so good. Or much loved drinking holes have become gastropubs, where you get served with a sigh if you only order a pint of bitter. Luckily, there’s not one but two new kids on the block that are looking particularly enticing! The first is The Varsity Club on the High St which has the massive selling point of an awesome rooftop bar along with some rather good cocktails, more about that here. The other doesn’t actually open until August but is already generating a lot of interest based on its social media campaign of #haveyouseenjosephperks.
Located in St Clements, so ideally placed for the Cowley Road crowd, workers on their way home & the Brookes/Radcliffe people, Joseph Perks & Co is a ambitious and extremely stylish project in the old Duke of Edinburgh pub. That was a proper old boozer that had gone out of fashion some time ago and had been left to quietly fade into obscurity. Until Nick Ford, Tom Bronock and Casey Small came along. With a combined background of bar management, bar design & outside events, they spotted the potential of a bar that would cater for all.
Joseph Perks is based around a wonderfully bizarre story, Joe being a renowned cocktail barman in the seventies who went travelling around the world before hoping to start his own bar in London. One day he stopped near El Piro and was never seen again. Allegedly he has been spotted in far flung lands and so his notoriety has spread. Kind of like a Cocktail era Tom Cruise crossed with Lord Lucan!
Anyway, the old pub has been completely ripped out and in the process has revealed some pretty lovely features including gorgeous tiling in the loos that are being restored and a brick fireplace that’s been unboarded. The new design promises oak flooring, a long steel bar, very cool light boxes, fairground style lighting and my absolute favourite, wall lamps sourced from Japanese war ships! There will be tables where you can sit and drink coffee, supplied from the wonderful guys at Ue, use the superfast wifi and even accessible sockets where you can charge your lappy as you work.
Add to that the five variations of Big Apple hotdogs they’ll be serving and I might just move in! Towards the back of the building will be a more relaxed feel with sofas and a piano, there’s even an area for live music, and outside is a small enclosed garden area.
I’m told their cocktails won’t be served in jamjars (yay!) and their beers will be served in chilled glasses (double yay!) Talking of beer, they’ll still be a Greene King pub so expect the usuals on draught.
But there’s more! A decent sized room off the main bar will be available for private hire and will be decorated with an enormous world map, studded with pushpins as to where the elusive Joe Perks has been spotted.
Work is still in progress but they are hoping to open in August this year. You can follow their updates on Twitter. I’ll be sat near the bar, will you?!
By the way, if you need a really cool outside cocktail bar for an event, give these guys a shout! The Cocktail Service.