Where to Drink in Oxford, Mississippi - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Where to Drink in Oxford, Mississippi

With a population of fewer than 30,000 residents, Oxford may only be on the radar of those outside the South as the home of the historic University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). But Oxford punches well above its weight in cultural caliber, with a literary history claiming authors like William Faulkner and Willie Morris, a thriving live music scene with links to the Mississippi Blues Trail, and a multitude of destination-worthy bars and restaurants. “The drinks scene in Oxford is unique,” says Joe Stinchcomb. “Being a college town, you have a ton of college bars, but nestled in there are places like the ones below.”

An Oxford-based bartender, Stinchcomb headed the beverage program at local favorite Saint Leo for five years, and he has been recognized as a Smith Fellow by the Southern Foodways Alliance. Having recently opened his own bar in a historic theater, Stinchcomb offered us a tour of Oxford’s best drinking destinations. “It’s fun to take folks who have never been here and show them around,” he says. “It’s almost like Cheers, because everyone knows everyone.”

The Blind Pig

“We like to say, ‘All roads lead to the Pig,’” says Stinchcomb of the locally beloved pub and deli. Tucked into a basement space in downtown’s Oxford Square, The Blind Pig has been the local go-to for Ole Miss football games, bar trivia, live music, and epic sandwiches since 2007. The drinks selection matches the casual atmosphere, with a rotating roster of 20 beer taps ranging from pub stalwarts like Guinness to craft brews like Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale from Mississippi’s Lazy Magnolia. “A beer and a shot will do just fine here,” Stinchcomb says. 

A Martini at Saint Leo. | Photo by Erin Austen Abbott

Saint Leo

“I ran this beverage program for five years. The drinks are fantastic and the space is beautiful,” says Stinchcomb of this James Beard–nominated wood-fired Italian eatery. But the cozy bar stands on its own sterling reputation and has a devoted clientele. Complementing the fresh, seasonal fare, the cocktail menu shines with both classics and house creations like The Count, The Sage, The Temptress (sage-infused gin, pineapple-infused Cocchi Americano, blanc vermouth). “I love getting a classic Negroni before ordering a pizza and having another drink,” says Stinchcomb.


Forget popcorn and Red Vines—the snacks at Snackbar lean in the direction of raw oysters and sweet potato gaufrettes. Opened in 2009 by chef John Currence, whose City Grocery Restaurant Group has come to epitomize Oxford’s acclaimed dining scene, Snackbar slates itself as a Southern brasserie, utilizing local Mississippi ingredients, with a tightly curated wine list and bespoke cocktails like the Black-necked Stilt (black tea–infused rum, chicory liqueur, lime, bitters). “It’s the original craft cocktail spot in Oxford,” says Stinchcomb. “Amazing drinks and James Beard Award–winning chef [Vishwesh Bhatt]—what’s not to like? I order from the constantly changing cocktail menu.”


Opened in Oxford in 2013, Japanese restaurant Jinsei gets playful with its menu, offering everything from classic nigiri to bigeye tuna nachos. It’s an approach matched by the drinks program, which, in addition to an extensive wine and sake list, gets experimental with seasonal house cocktails like the Tower of Babel (blanco tequila, sake, strawberry, lemon, mint, and wasabi). “It’s a sushi restaurant that has kick-ass drinks, and they’re usually fun and funky in terms of using Japanese ingredients,” says Stinchcomb.

The Omar Comin’ cocktail at Bar Muse. | Photo by Lindsay Pace

Bar Muse

One of the newest cocktail bars on the scene, Bar Muse opened last October inside the historic Lyric Theater. Helmed by Stinchcomb and business partner Ross Hester, Bar Muse embodies Oxford’s appreciation for well-made drinks in a lively atmosphere. “Our vibe is local bar meets high-end craft cocktails,” says Stinchcomb. The menu reflects this ethos with a well-appointed selection of wines by the glass and six signature cocktails like the McNul-Tea, with Earl Grey–infused Irish whiskey, amaro, cinnamon, lemon, and egg. “The cocktails feature locally sourced ingredients in order to highlight Oxford’s vibrant food and cultural scene,” says Stinchcomb.

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