25 Best College Bars in America
Today on The Daily Meal
When you reminisce on your college days, what comes to mind first? The all-nighters, the 8 a.m. classes, and ordering Dominos at all hours of the day? Or do most of your memories (or lack thereof) come from the nights spent passing around pitchers of cheap beer and ordering rounds of Jose Cuervo at your favorite bar alongside your best friends?
There is no doubt that the classic college bar is a major part of an undergrad’s life. Where else can you (acceptably) order a round of cheap drinks, play drinking games usually reserved for a basement at a house party, and drunkenly belt out “Wagonwheel” and then proceed to cry as senior year comes to an end?
Everyone’s got their favorite campus late-night hangout that symbolizes and encompasses an entire college career. But some of these college bars, from universities and colleges big and small, truly define what it means to be a (insert your college mascot here).
Does your bar have free shots from 9 to 10 p.m., followed by free beer and free mixed drinks? Yes, that’s a real thing. With a small cover charge, students at the University of Central Florida drink as much as they want, or can handle, at the Knight Library. And that jukebox you filled with dollars just to hear “Shout” every single weekend? Compare that to the DJs and live bands that play at the Red Square Bar & Grill in Burlington, Vt. Based on the music alone, you’ll wish you had transferred to the University of Vermont.
In order to track down the best college bars around the country, The Daily Meal went to the primary source: the students. Requests flooded in with students eager to put their go-to bars on the list. Naturally, everyone has a little bias when it comes to his or her alma mater, and an objective vote was difficult.
So as to keep subjectivity to a minimum, a point system was put into place, addressing all the factors that make a great college bar. Recommended bars were then given a point for the following attributes:
- Music – That includes juke boxes, DJs, and live music. – As long as the bar had some sort of method for drunk college students to fist-pump and screech at the top of their lungs to “Livin’ On A Prayer,” a point was assigned.
- An outdoor area – Students need somewhere to go to cool off from the dance floor, after all.
- A selection of ten beers or more on the menu
- Dance floor – What bar is complete without a cesspool of bumping and grinding?
- Liquor – Mixed drinks and shots get you drunk quicker, no further explanation necessary.
- The ability to get a beer for $3 or less on a weekend night – Let’s face it, college students are not known for their deep pockets or refined tastes. The cheaper, the better, no matter the taste.
- Beer pitcher availability – More cost-efficient than single beers, pitchers are a convenient way to buy a round of drinks, without spending a pretty penny.
- Shot specials – Whether it’s a free shot with a beer or $1 jello shots, we need it all.
- Drinking games – Beer pong isn’t just for the basement of a fraternity house. Although illegal in some states, public drinking games add a little something extra to your classic college bar.
- Distance (less than ½ mile from campus) – No one, drunk or sober, wants to have a long trip home from the bar.
- Food served after 10 p.m. on the weekends – There is something exquisite, and necessary, about that bite of food when you’re under the influence.
- No cover charge- See number 6.
Points were deducted if the bar was only open on the weekends and if there is a notoriously long line to get inside.
In the case of a tie, a panel of "experts" became the deciding factor. College students from varying schools became the final decision in where a bar fell in the rankings. Check out the slideshow to see if your favorite college bar made the list!
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