Cambridge is so much more than university lectures and punting; it’s got a great nightlife with some seriously secretive bars. On our quest to uncover secret bars across the UK – from Newcastle to Manchester to Edinburgh to Bristol – we’ve found some pretty cool drinking dens. And now, we’ve headed to Cambridge.
From hidden speakeasies to a secret library, these cocktail bars in Cambridge offer more than first meets the eye.
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A Cambridge café that moonlights as a trendy cocktail bar, Novi does each of its identities exceptionally well. Slow daytime coffee drinking and brunch turns into homemade botanic cocktails, craft beer and thoughtful dining by night.
Head to the first-floor terrace cocktail bar for exceptional concoctions. Using homemade syrup, shrubs and tinctures, Novi creates bespoke herb, spice, fruit and bean cocktails showcasing the best of botanical ingredients. The menu changes seasonally and all drinks are as much a treat on the eyes as they are on the taste buds (so, totally ‘Instagrammable’).
Try ‘Don’t Despair’, a blend of sweet pear cognac, pear cider caramel, sage syrup, lemon juice and sage tincture. Perhaps you prefer something a little more refreshing? Order the ‘Grapefruit Spritz’, with Hendrick’s, Aperol, cucumber, pink grapefruit soda, lemon juice and orange bitters.
You’ll also find an exciting selection of small and large plates, and street food options if you’re feeling peckish. Open 9am – 3am, seven days a week, the 3-storey building offers the perfect spot for drinking, dining and events all year round.
Where: 12 Regent Street, Cambridge, CB2 1DB
Getting there: From Cambridge Station, you can walk to Novi in around 15 minutes. Alternatively, it’s a 12-minute bus ride.
2. La Raza
Concealed under the cobbles of Rose Crescent in central Cambridge, La Raza is a contemporary cocktail bar and tapas restaurant, open from lunch till late.
Expert mixologists shake, rattle and stir a list of creative cocktails like ‘Rye N’ Gosling’, ‘Love Island Iced Tea’ and ‘Spritz Up Look Sharp’, so, you’re bound to find something you like.
And if you can’t see anything you fancy, tell the bar team who will be more than happy to knock something up for you. Pair your cocktails with some tasty tapas and paella dishes for an enjoyable, lazy afternoon activity.
There are two happy hours every day, and if you visit on a Monday or Tuesday, you can buy two cocktails for £10 and get a free mini sharing board with your first round of drinks!
If you visit in the early evening, you can enjoy drinks and tapas with chilled tunes. On Fridays and Saturdays, the venue hosts live music and DJs, so there’s always something going on.
Where: 4-6 Rose Crescent, Cambridge, CB2 3LL
Getting there: A bus from Cambridge Station to La Raza will take around 20 minutes, or you can walk to the bar in 25 minutes.
3. Hidden Rooms
The name says it all. The Hidden Rooms is a bar nestled in the heart of Cambridge in the basement of an impressive former Victorian Roman Baths. Designed in 1863, this beautiful Grade II listed building is the perfect setting for early evening cocktails.
The cocktail menu is extensive and includes classic concoctions as well as more unique mixes. Passionate about drinks, the team are proud of their independence and will be happy to create the drink of your choice if you don’t find it on the menu. Visit between 6pm and 9pm on any day of the week for £6 on selected cocktails!
Hidden Rooms also offers a huge range of 'Party Packages' including activities like a Cocktail Masterclass, Dance workshops, punting on the river and Pizza Making classes! Check their website for more info.
Where: 7b Jesus Lane, Cambridge, CB5 8BA
Getting there: The Hidden Rooms is a 20-minute bus ride from Cambridge Station or a half an hour walk.
4. 12A Club
Inspired by the secret speakeasies of America’s prohibition era, 12A is a private members club and one of the swankiest venues in Cambridge.
Equipped with a late license, a bar stocked full of the finest spirits and beers, and a beautifully decorated cellar area, it perfectly captures the decadence and adventurous attitude of America's Roaring Twenties.
Serving the best in pastas, pizzas and fish dishes, try the oven-baked swordfish steak with capers, olives and cherry tomatoes, a delicious dish with a difference. Cleanse your palate with a great selection of cocktails, fine wines, boozy beers and spirit mixers. Get merry as you soak up your sophisticated surrounds.
Non-members can book a table and get a one-night membership, so make sure you book before you go.
Where: 12a Market Hill, Cambridge, CB2 3NJ
Getting there: Walk to the 12A club in 25 minutes from Cambridge Station or jump on a bus and make it there in 20.
A basement bar in the city centre, 2468 has a secret. A hidden room within the bar awaits you, if you can find it. Located behind a bookcase and through a passageway, you will find the secret library. It’s the perfect place to chill out, chat and enjoy a cocktail or two.
2468 pride themselves on perfecting classic cocktails but the menu changes seasonally. The legendary happy hour runs from 5pm-9pm Monday to Friday, where you can enjoy 2 for 1 on any cocktail for just £9.50. There’s also a range of craft beer, cider, wine and champagne if you’d prefer.
The bar hosts regular street food pop-ups, a great accompaniment for your classy cocktails. Reggae Kitchen will delight your taste buds with their delicious Jamaican cuisine.
Where: 14A Trinity St, Cambridge CB2 1TB
Getting there: The bar is a 20-minute bus ride or 25-minute walk from Cambridge train station.
6. Old Bicycle Shop
Hardly hidden, but this bar, would you believe it, used to be an old bicycle shop. And not just any old bicycle shop: this bike shop claims to be the oldest in the whole of England. And rumour has it that Charles Darwin, famed for his ‘Theory of Evolution’, bought a two-wheeler of his own from here.
The quirky interior is designed to celebrate the heritage of the original shop. Saddles and handlebars have been cleverly designed as wall art and everywhere you look, bicycle parts have been fashioned into ornaments or table lamps. The Old Bicycle Shop certainly offers a unique setting for a drink.
In line with the bicycle theme, you will find a list of creatively named cocktails, including ‘The Brompton’, ‘Cycle Killer’ and the ‘Village Bicycle’. Pick your favourite and enjoy it in the sheltered sun of the courtyard.
Open all day for brunch, lunch and dinner, you’ll find fresh, locally sourced food with plenty of options for the vegetarian and vegan among you.
Where: 104 Regent Street, Cambridge, CB2 1DP
Getting there: Up the road from Novi bar, you could kill two birds with one stone and visit both. The Old Bicycle Shop is around a 15-minute walk from Cambridge Station and even quicker if you go by bike.
After you’ve enjoyed a drink or two at your chosen cocktail bar in Cambridge, why not head to one of the best restaurants in Cambridge for dinner?
If you want to sample a few cocktails in Cambridge, travelling by train will allow you to do so. Remember to book an Advance ticket via our website or our Train Tickets app for great savings.
Written by Abby