Just about every school has one – A long-standing college bar steeped in history, with cheap beer to boot! It is in these bars that traditions are made, legendary stories are created and shared, and good times are remembered.
We’ve found 20 of the most legendary of these bars, listed in no particular order, and we’ll share their stories here. Of course, we’re sure there are far more than 20 legendary college bars, and we invite you to share your favorites in the comments.
- The All-American Rathskeller
Three days after the repeal of Prohibition, “The Rathskeller & Gardens” opened for business in State College, as the fourth and currently oldest licensed bar in Pennsylvania. The bar has some interesting amenities, including a trough-tub urinal, but its stories are what make The Rathskeller legendary. Its most popular one is of Case Day, which started in 1983 to celebrate the bar’s 50th anniversary. On this day, the bar broke the world record for case sales, selling 903, smoking the existing record set by a bar in Germany by more than 200 cases. Case Day is held each year, reaching the 1053 mark in 1996, which still stands as a record.
- Havana Central (formerly West End Bar)
It’s a Cuban restaurant now, but when author Jack Kerouac studied at Columbia University, it was his go-to bar, known back then as the West End Bar. It’s a block from the university gates on Broadway, and once held host to writers including Allen Ginsberg, William Carlos Williams, and Lucien Carr, in addition to Kerouac himself. Kerouac has even made mention of this legendary spot in Valley of Duloz, in which he discusses the men relieving themselves outside. Sounds like a classic college bar to us.
- Jack & Dan’s
During the Prohibition era, Jack and Dan’s was known as “Louie’s Snappy Service,” a service that included delivering buckets of beer to anyone within a two-mile radius. It is on this history that Jack & Dan’s was founded and grew to become one of the best college bars in America, and one of the best sports bars in America, period. In fact, they were ranked number six in a poll by Sports Illustrated. Within walking distance of Gonzaga, students flock here in droves, particularly during games.
- He’s Not Here
A favorite of Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, N.C., He’s Not Here has been serving the University of North Carolina for about 40 years. Although the ownership has recently changed, its legendary status has not, including its reputation as a dive bar with huge 33oz “Blue Cups.” In fact, the new owners are former employees and enthusiastic patrons, one who worked there in 1991 and the other who met his wife at the bar. The location is a site of many memories for UNC students, including auditions for MTV’s The Real World.
- The Corner Club
The Corner Club in Moscow, Idaho, a small chapel in its former life, is famous for its stories of amazing feats performed at the bar. The most well-known of these involves Gus Johnson, an Idaho Vandals basketball star. It’s said that Johnson already had a reputation as a high jumper, and was asked to show off his skills at the bar. From a standing start, Johnson touched a spot on a beam that was more than 11 feet above the ground. This spot was marked with a nail, and since then, the bar has advertised that anyone who could do the same would drink for free. Only one has been able to do it since then: Joey Johnson, who grabbed and bent the legendary nail.
Located on the campus of Rice University in Houston, Valhalla is one of the only college bars we know of that is actually supported by its school, in this case the Rice GSA. Since 1970, the grad student bar has served as a place to relax and enjoy a good beer after a hard day of studies. Our favorite part about Valhalla? It’s staffed by volunteer bartenders who work for the privilege of a lifetime of free drinks at the bar, making beer prices so cheap, even students can afford to drink.
- Eskimo Joe’s
This Oklahoma State University bar, located quite literally in the shadow of the stadium, is proud to be “Stillwater’s Jumpin’ Little Juke Joint.” They’re famous for their big street parties and Joe’s Cups, of which they sell 1/2 million each year. They’ve also been endorsed by both George H.W. and George W. Bush. If that doesn’t impress you, maybe this will: it’s the only bar we know of with a retractable roof, installed in 1992 and dubbed the “Joe Dome.”
Coupe De Ville’s, one of the most eclectic spots in Charlottesville, has been around for about 30 years, providing a place for University of Virginia students to crowd into its basement, blow off steam, and enjoy great music. Over the years, it’s earned fame as a live music venue, with Rolling Stone Magazine naming it one of America’s most legendary college bars, noting that it would be “the only fun reason to go to college” at UVA.
- The Dixie Chicken
Located just off the campus of Texas A&M, The Dixie Chicken proudly boasts that they serve the most beer per square foot of any bar in the U.S. Quite impressive, but not at all surprising as they’re located in College Station, Texas, the bar capital of the world, with the most bars per capita. Regulars and visitors to this friendly bar can shoot pool, enjoy Texas music, and try to spot the live snake that lives on the premises.
- War Eagle Supper Club
All the way back in 1937, The Supper Club actually was a supper club, but has since transformed into a bar for Auburn students and fans. A great venue for music, and an even better venue for drinking, the War Eagle Supper Club has earned its wings with a spot on Playboy‘s list of Top 100 College Bars.
- The Sink
The Sink is a beloved University of Colorado institution famous for its Sinkburger, Ugly Crust Pizza, and “off the wall gallery,” which encourages patrons to draw or sign their names on the walls of the establishment. In 1995, The Sink established itself as a beer joint, bringing in 18 draft lines and restoring artwork that had been covered up with pine boards for visitors to enjoy once again.
- Triple Rock
Located in Downtown Berkeley, Triple Rock’s legendary status comes from their claim to fame as the fifth brewpub to open in the United States, and the only one of those original five still operating with original equipment and founders. Since 1986, Triple Rock has been sharing craft beers and some of the best burgers in Berkeley, making it a favorite not just for students, but craft beer enthusiasts, especially those who love sour brews.
- The Ivy Inn
Serving the Princeton community, The Ivy Inn is a quintessential family-owned college bar. Purchased by Dickey McCluskey as a 25-year-old bartender, McCluskey’s family pitched in to help him get things off the ground, and the family has been running the business ever since. Offering reasonable prices, live entertainment, and both loyal customers and employees, The Ivy bills itself as a place to “let your hair down without maxing out your credit card.”
- Corby’s Irish Pub
Rudy was filmed at this Notre Dame bar. The end.
- Duffy’s Tavern
We’re not sure exactly what you can find in Lincoln, Neb. (other than the University of Nebraska, of course), but apparently, there’s a pretty fantastic college bar called Duffy’s Tavern. The self-proclaimed “Home of the Fishbowl” cocktails, it’s a great venue for comedy and live music. A little band called Nirvana once played there.
This legendary Chicago bar seems to be many things to many people. For some, it’s a classic college bar. Others, a great place to try whiskey (they have more than 400 varieties), catch a punk rock show, or peruse an incredible craft beer selection. Whatever you’re looking for, chances are you’ll find it here.
Serving the Baylor Bears in Waco, Texas, George’s has been around for more than 75 years. Famous for their “Big O” orange drinks and incredible home game presence, this bar is a favorite for students in the area. One famous patron, country songwriter Pat Green, even mentioned George’s in a song, thanking the bar for all the classes he missed.
- The Esso Club
The Esso Club has been a part of Clemson tradition for more than 50 years. It started out as a gas station back in the 1920s, but turned into a great place to have a beer, and continues to hold the oldest beer license in town, dating all the way back to December 1933, just after Prohibition. They stopped pumping gas in 1985, but certainly haven’t stopped serving beer. Full of museum-quality memorabilia, including stadium seats recovered during a 1970s Death Valley renovation, this spot has both Clemson history and fun in store.
- Scholz Garten
Located in downtown Austin, this German beer garden has been around longer than the University of Texas itself. It’s been in continuous operation since 1866, and is the oldest operating business in Austin. They’re even on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It’s a favorite gathering spot before and after UT sporting events, as it’s usually within walking distance and is a great place to pick up some cheap beer.
- Harry’s Chocolate Shop
Originally opened in 1919 as a soda fountain near Purdue University, Harry’s Chocolate Shop has grown to become a beloved bar for students. Many a Boilermaker have carved their initials into its walls, and joined in at the chorus of Sweet Caroline playing on its jukebox. Harry’s is full of legendary stories, including marriage proposals, broken noses, and fish bowl drinks.