By Jacquie Simone
If you’re a typical IC student, you probably spent the first three years of your illustrious college career ambling around the Circles or trekking down South Hill for a house party. Once you’re 21, the allure of sticky floors might begin to wane. Sure, we all enjoy the occasional sweaty, nasty evening grinding to Ke$ha songs and chugging Long Island iced teas at Moonie’s, but when you’re craving something more sophisticated to sip, check out these local bars.
- Best Cocktails: Felicia’s Atomic Lounge: The myriad martinis at this chill, modestly sized lounge will blow your mind. The creamy pumpkin martini and carrot cake martini both provide a burst of flavor, and they certainly don’t skimp on the alcohol content. Their constantly rotating drink specials feature a variety of seasonal ingredients—the winter months bring warm cocktails, like loco coco and a delicious hot toddy. On Friday afternoons, they have the most scrumptious hot dogs and vegan “not dogs” you will ever try. The only downside is that the lounge attracts a more, ahem, mature crowd, so beware of running into your sociology professor.
- Best Pub Vibe: The Chapter House: If you bemoan the lack of bar snacks at most local establishments, have no fear! The Chapter House is the perfect place for a pint and POPCORN. Yes, they have a popcorn machine in the back room, allowing patrons to eat as much as they want for free. But that isn’t the only reason to pull up a chair at one of their graffiti-laden wood tables: This place is serious about beer. With an impressive 49 beers on tap, it’s like detox for those who have polluted their systems with Keystone and PBR for years. Try one—or two, or five—of the New York state beers as you visit with friends. They usually have live music on weekends, but stop by during the week too for the relaxed atmosphere. Bottoms up!
- Best Newcomer: Silky Jones: Which bar has a sexy name, great location on the Commons and a large supply of board games? Silky Jones! Imagine indulging in a perfectly mixed beverage while playing an intense game of Candy Land against your friends. But this isn’t a hangout for lil kids: The friendly bartenders will gladly stir up a potent potable. Their new cocktail menu features light, refreshing fare with a touch of whimsy. There is ample seating room at booths and tables, so grab your friends and opt for this classy choice on the Commons.
- Best Nerd Bar: Pixel Lounge: Nestled in a somewhat sketchy alley in Collegetown, Pixel offers a wide variety of events to keep regulars entertained. There’s nothing better than playing their vintage video games while sipping a tasty gimlet. If you’re interested in turning your trove of useless knowledge into money, then stop over for their weekly trivia night at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays. The competition is fierce, but you can always drown your sorrows in a pitcher of beer even if you perform abysmally. They also usually have pretty solid DJs on weekends, so you can shake your booty while the bartender shakes a signature martini.
- Best Restaurant Bar: Madeline’s: It’s one of the swankiest restaurants on the Commons, but you should still pop in for drinks even if the dinner entrees are out of your price range. No matter what your preferred poison is, they have something to please every palate. More than 100 wines plus 28 cocktails plus 48 beers equals one sated customer. And that’s not even all: If you’re feeling extra sophisticated, try one of their many cognacs, bourbons or scotches. The ambiance is downright sexy, especially when you’re tasting a champagne cocktail garnished with strawberries. Once you try their drinks, you’ll undoubtedly start saving up for a full meal at Madeline’s. But that’s another story and another blog post.