America's 10 Best College Bars

Check out our definitive compilation of the ten best student drinking holes in the United States and share some school spirit over a brew.

Hopper Editors - Oct. 26, 2017

All colleges have a couple of bars that students take to their hearts, evolving their own vivid folklore that's handed down from generation to generation over numberless glasses of booze. Here we've gathered together ten of the best, in a broad sense of that word - bars whose names students will still be mentioning with a smile forty years after graduating.

The Sink, University of Colorado

Former frat house The Sink has evolved into the undisputed champ of Boulder's bar scene. Students etch their names in the low wood ceiling, and already new additions are beginning to obscure the names of the old frat kids as new generations of Boulder students vie for space. They flock to the bar for its lively hand-painted walls and even livelier atmosphere, especially on game day. It's also got a terrific bar menu, replete with legendary hamburgers and a smashing selection of craft beers.

Kilroy's Bar, Indiana University

Photo via their official FB page.

Kilroy's draws a somewhat younger crowd from the rank and file of IU, who spread out across its 3-level bar-and-club and take advantage of the outrageously good value drink deals on offer every day of the week. It's not the place to sit down and discuss continental philosophy, but with its big dance floor and outdoor patio it's always swarming with people whipping up some raucous fun.

McFadden's, George Washington University

This wood-paneled bar and dance floor is invested with a garrulous Irish spirit, lubricated by the bottles of whiskey sitting behind the bar. There are plenty of tables to gather round for a lively conversation, while students who want to get their dance on sequester themselves on the hopping dance floor, especially on Wednesday nights when cheap drink deals abound. It's also got great food and throws legendary late-night parties.

Coupe's, University of Virginia

Photo via their official FB page.

Coupe's dingy interior opens out to a sun-drizzled backyard patio, complete with a cabana that was built by hand by a previous owner. This patio is a great place to sip on the bar's uniquely named cocktail, Fckin' Fck, which combines lemon vodka with peach schnapps and Malibu. And as the day darkens into night, $1 burgers appear on the menu, and the bar's inside tables begin to pulse with life, until a local musician plays that old Virginia classic Wagon Wheel to signal it's time for the intoxicated students to follow that country road home.

The Chapter House Brew Pub, Cornell University

The Chapter is a classic New York state pub, at its best in the winter months, when its windows glaze with frost and grads gather in cozy wooden nooks to talk through the finer details of life and love. Everything about it looks a little old and worn, even under the pub's dim lighting, but this only adds to its laid-back and homely atmosphere. Live music on a timber stage adds to the ambience, which is completed by a fantastic array of craft beers.

The Union Bar, The University of Iowa

Photo via their official FB page.

The 2013 Princeton Review named Iowa the top party university in the country, and as you'd expect, students at this prestigious institution have a plethora of drinking holes to choose between. The loudest and busiest is probably Brother's, but the most wild is undoubtedly The Union Bar, which is clearly a chosen home of the party spirits. Go there to drink, dance, shout, stagger and make out with drunken strangers 'til closing time because #YOLO.

901 Bar & Grill, University of Southern California

Photo via their official FB page.

Nicknamed the "Nine-O" by University of South California students, this bar is the place for them to catch the game, with 25% discounts on food and drink to Trojan fans throughout the afternoon. At night, the grill is stacked away and the sit-down bar transforms into a happening night club, drawing stragglers and wild cards from a demography that stretches far beyond its daytime USC regulars.

The Boot, Tulane University

The Boot is not for the humble or the meek, but with its drinks from $0.50 and its crawling distance from the Tulane campus, it's a top spot to neck several drinks, laugh uproariously, and step out onto the dive of a dance floor. Students have been doing this since it opened in 1967, and it's a tradition that's not likely to end anytime soon. As Tulane's campus newspaper put it: "It is disgusting, filthy and magical all at the same time."

Hemingway's Cafe, University of Pittsburgh

Colorful candy-laced drinks, pitchers of shots and greasy burgers are the order of the day at Hemingway's, the place for Panther's fans to drink idly through the day and party at night. There's a good selection of beers and comfortable places to sit and chat through the day, though once evening and the just-turned-21 crowd descends, don't expect anyone to hear you at anything less than shouting volume.

Smokey Joe's, University of Pennsylvania

Smokey Joe's has been pouring beers and frying up food for more than 70 years, a history captured in the hazy black-and-white photographs lining its walls. The bar's high point was a name-check during Gerald Ford's commencement address, but it still draws the hordes today for its frequent drink deals and cheap bar menu, including $1 afternoon hot dogs. Once evening descends, lounge lizard musicians take to the stage, adding to Smokey's timeless vibe.

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