Holiday posting: Raoul's, Oxford | The New London Cocktail Review
Holiday posting: Raoul's, Oxford ~ The New London Cocktail Review

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Holiday posting: Raoul's, Oxford

32 Walton Street
Oxford OX2 6AA

Jerry Boam

Naturally, or otherwise, Merton College, Oxford is the Boam alma mater. For more generations than the archives recall, sundry Boams have been drawn here; here, to Merton’s singular cobbled charms, its delightfully tended gardens, and its strange, shrugging air of having just missed out on something rather important.

It’s been a mixed history. Viscount Balthazar Boam was here of course, until he was sent down for something to do with the Dean, the Warden’s sixteen year-old daughter and a half-crate of vintage port. The exact tale has never fully emerged. Great Uncle Boozy Boam was here, submerged in claret and the classics. And, more recently, half-Uncle Hogg-Boam scraped in somehow and terrorised the young servant girls long into Oxford’s winter nights.

It is with such thoughts of lineage and destiny and the aged musk of Gevrey-Chambertin that I return now to Oxford’s ponderous streets. We stroll along the Broad, past Ducker’s on Turl, down the cobbles of Magpie Lane, and oh, to Merton’s pale and happy stones. Three years of memories rush back: Sundays, lazy smoking upon my first-year window seat; hazy summer lawns, tasseled loafers, lightly crumpled linen; my first pair of co-respondent brogues; my half-blue for Rugby Fives; my thirst for the coruscating scrape of neat gin upon a half-starved stomach. And Raoul’s.

Raoul’s. Here we supped on cocktails – rich and fruity – deep into summer nights, to totter home full of sugary verve and love. Thick mango purees, spiced pears redolent of some mystical Orient, dribbles of sticky caramel, fresh limes, apricots, the buttery whiff of vanilla. And the booze! Rums and brandies, whiskies, vodkas, liqueurs in every flavour, tequila from old Mexico, bourbon from New York…

Unsurprisingly, the aura of such dreams has faded. The clientèle wear jeans now. The décor – always bad – seems to have taken rather a tumble. And of course these days I must brave the pavement to partake of a Sobranie. But the drinks! Oh the drinks! One diving slurp into a tumbler of peachy Calvados-laced wonder, and it all comes flooding back – the excitement, the joy, the adventure. The booze! For as long as there are Boams at Merton, there shall be Boams at Raoul's. 

1 comment:

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