When you’re a college student in NYC, the city is your playground, but for some reason you end up sticking to the same spots week in and week out. Columbia kids mingle at divey pubs or wine bars on the Upper West Side, while NYU students frequent the usual union square spots, only occasionally venturing elsewhere. Whether you want to hang at one of the typical NYC college bars, try a college bar you’re not accustomed to, or avoid that scene all together, here are the top college bars in NYC to look out for.
109 East 9th Street
New York, NY 10003
Central Bar is a favorite among the young, hungry and broke, so it’s not surprising that this bar is packed with co-ed college students every weeknight taking full advantage of the free cover. Happy hour specials haul in the usual sleep-deprived, high-strung NYU students as well as St. Mark hipsters and locals in need of a $10 beer bucket or pitcher. Ordering your drink over the blasting Top 40 hits and occasional ‘80s pop is not an easy feat, but the eager dancing crowd doesn’t seem to mind one bit. In the wee hours of the night, as the people stumble in, the party moves upstairs with a dance floor and DJ lounge.
Lion’s Head Tavern
995 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10025
Not only is the bar’s name a nod to the Columbia University mascot, but it is an established institute in all conventions of a top college bar. This narrow bar houses the overly indulgent Columbia students aptly cheering and jeering at the ESPN games on screen, with a few thirsty Fordham students who occasionally end up at the Lion’s Head Tavern during a night out. The permanently sticky counters, floors and tables are a marker of the rounds of beers, shots and car bombs that are seen at this spot each and every night. You won’t find your pinky finger out sipping a cosmo here. Instead, the walls are lined with knickknacks ranging from drunken polaroids, to football helmets, to framed newspaper clippings and more. To top it all off, the 25 cent wings on Saturdays give us something to nosh on while we chug down our $2 PBRs and $3 Blue Moons!
Off the Wagon
109 MacDougal Street
New York, NY 10012
A sister establishment to Down the Hatch, Off the Wagon follows suit with the characteristic frat-boy scene of beer funnels, shotguns and beer pong. All that is missing are babes in wet t-shirts and we’re in the alternative spring break Cancun paradise. For all these reasons, College students may find the inverse connection between their GPAs sinking and their rising alcohol tolerance. However, that won’t keep the young folks from coming on school nights to this beloved watering hole near NYU for games and a good time.
1020 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10025
You may find a couple of stray overly intoxicated frat brothers here, but at 1020 the Patrons are usually Columbia’s well-behaved Grad students looking to hang back and have a good conversation. The rooms are packed every night of the week, so it serves you well to come early to snag one of the comfy booths, or one of three antique dentist chairs. Drinks flow continuously throughout the night, and a darts game near the entrance creates a cool atmosphere. The best part is you won’t feel too guilty after a night here, even with the St. John Divine Cathedral across the street. However, the mere sight of the Church might make you woozy anyways.
167 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10012
Low-key, dark and grungy – much like the throng of youngsters who run to this staple college bar. Every Friday night, Village Lantern offers an unusually hilarious comedy show that is the perfect non-caffeinated jolt needed to lift the Chem 301 students. The free entertainment, notable service and sociable bartenders make up for the slightly higher priced drinks. The spacious abode doesn’t slick you between testosterone-strung boys and lonesome girls. The high ceiling and warm, candle-lit ambiance also brings a more eclectic crowd on the weekends, though the students prefer the live bands and rave about the house mac & cheese, a sobering delicacy at 3 a.m.