Last weekend I went to London and I paid £5 for a nothing-special beer, which hurt my heart. Granted, now I get to say that I’ve had a pint on Baker Street so I guess it was sort of worth it? Anyways, over the past two weeks I’ve discovered that Cambridge, UK has some very interesting drinking-related things going on and I want to share them with you!
For every pound I spent on that London Pale Ale (Official Beer of Dr. Watson – Perhaps? Maybe? Probably not?) I’ll provide a cultural tidbit about drinking in this wonderfully historic town I get to call home for the next two months. So here we go:
£ 1. Boozeless Brunch
You don’t, you don’t, you do NOT drink alcohol at brunch here. In fact, you don’t drink alcohol before 12pm here. I guess I can see where they’re coming from, but Mimosas are so good! And Peach Bellinis! What is even the point of brunch without a pitcher of Peach Bellinis to gossip over? I guess food is more important to the Brits. Speaking of which, they serve onion rings at brunch here. I know.
£ 2. The Eagle has landed
Ever heard of that thing called DNA? Well, it was discovered in 3D form here in Cambridge by Francis Crick and James Watson. When they came up with their proposal for the double helix structure, they went to a spot nearby called The Eagle and made a huge announcement about it in front of the pub patrons! Naturally, I’ve resolved that I’m going to be making a lot more toasts to my accomplishments in pubs full of strangers because I think the world needs that. I’d pick the beer I had here over the one in London any day.
£ 3. Keep off the grass!
… Unless you’re in formal wear? Yes, here at Pembroke College (where I’m studying) you are not allowed on the grass. There are two exceptions to this rule: 1) become a Fellow at the College (talk about motivation to get into academia!) or 2) dress in your best robes and gowns and attend a Formal Hall. At Formal Halls you get to have drinks on the lawn before dinner! I got to experience this last week and I was petrified the entire time that I would trip, take a huge chunk out of the grass, and as a result be sacrificed to the River Cam.
£ 4. Penny for your drunk thoughts?
Watch your drinks around here. At those same Formal Halls, it’s a popular game for Cambridge students to sneakily slip a penny coin into each others drinks. The premise is that the owner of the drink has to save the Queen from drowning and instantly down their glass of wine! I’ve since taken to carrying around a spare penny in my pocket at all times just to be on the safe side. Definitely from a retribution standpoint, guys. I’m definitely doing it out of defense. Definitely.
£ 5. Convertible cafes
One of my favorite spots in Cambridge, Hot Numbers, is a cafe by (every)day and a bar by (some) night(s). This is the case with quite a few little cafes around town and I am a HUGE fan. The Cambridge colleges have a similar type of deal where you can hang at the cafe areas and if you’re there long enough they’ll turn into a bar at some point! This makes sense to me! It’s just economical really.
So, there you have it. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on other funny drinking habits I pick up on during my time studying abroad at the University of Cambridge. Now, who wants me to bring them back a British penny?