In the words of Monty Python…”And now for something completely different”
This is big. Like, really big. We ventured OUTSIDE of London for a date. That’s right! People outside the capital like to go on dates to cool places too – who’da thought it?
The Date Night Review spent some time discovering what Oxford has to offer and in doing so, followed recommendations and went to…
The Mad Hatter
Where: 3 Iffley Rd, Oxford
What: Secret Speakeasy-style Cocktail Bar
When: Open Tues & Weds (7pm-12am), Thurs (7pm-1.30am) and Fri & Sat (7pm-2pm)
How Much: £6.50 – £300+
Like all the best speakeasies (in my opinion), The Mad Hatter is a little off the beaten track, away from the city centre. If you didn’t know to look for a sign with a top hat indicating its location, you might well overlook the venue as its exterior still bears its predecessor’s name: The Cricketers Arms.
If you’re in the know however, you’ll find the entrance on Circus Street (just off Iffley Road) but it’s still not simple. The door to The Mad Hatters is not open to all – only those who can solve a riddle will be allowed to enter so bring your thinking cap (they’ll give you a couple of clues, don’t worry).
Have a go at this…
“What gets wetter as it dries?”
Once you have successfully solved the riddle, you’ll be allowed access and greeted by a staff member who will show you in and take you to a table. You can reserve tables here.
Unsurprisingly, the team are dressed in quirky Alice and Wonderland themed attire which is replicated in the drinks menu. Served individually or in a teapot or tophat/disco ball, you’ll find cocktail names like Jabberwocky Brew, Tweedle Dee/Dum and the Queen of Hearts – all helping to throw you back to your childhood memories.
The venue itself is also adorned in Alice in Wonderland themed memorabilia ranging from extracts from the books, artists interpretations, clocks and other strange objects. The cartoon film itself plays in on a TV in the corner, while in true speakeasy fashion, the purple lights are dimmed and the sound of Jazz creates a sophisticated ambience amid the fun and lively decor.
In terms of how much you can expect to spend at your alcoholic tea party date, it depends on whether you want to share or not. Individual drinks are priced at around £7 but are between £20-£100 if you went for a top hat or teapot (supposedly for sharing!). While it might seem a little pricey written down, the standard, size and presentation of the cocktails at The Mad Hatters make it worthwhile and afterall – it is date night.
The Mad Hatter also caters for midweek dates and hosts a weekly Japanese themed (not sure why) Karaoke every Thursday which includes a prize for the winner(s) and a 25% off happy hour that runs all night. You can also see the line up of one-off events here.
Overall, we loved this eccentric hidden gem – the staff were fun and friendly, the atmosphere was lively and fun even early on a Saturday night and the attention to detail throughout the venue was impressive. Would definitely recommend to anyone in the area for a date with a difference!