Your trusty guide for conquering the bars in State College.
You just turned 21, and it’s your first time going to the bar. Chances are you’ve never been to a bar, or ordered a drink in your life. Your freshman and sophomore years were spent doing keg stands in the backyard of frats, and ripping shots of Vladimir vodka. That’s all gonna change now, though, since you’re 21 and you can hit the bars. There’s a couple of things you should know before you start ordering jägerbombs. Here are some tips for conquering the bars in State College.
State College is one of the most happening towns in the country when it comes to the bar scene. We have a wide variety of bars here, and it’s only getting better. If tonight is your birthday, though, you’re definitely going to the Phyrst. Everyone knows the deal. After tonight, though, your options open up. There a few factors you should consider before going downtown. First: how late is it. Bars experience peak hours usually between 10pm and 12am. Show up outside of these hours if you don’t want to wait in line for upwards of 20 minutes. Long lines also form during happy hour. Different bars have different happy hours, and the attractiveness of the happy hours often determines how long the line is. A long line can also mean that there’s probably a cover charge. Cover charges range from $3-$5 depending on the day or event. If it’s State Paddy’s Day, you’ll be paying full cover at all bars. If a local cover band is playing, though, you’ll have to shell out $2 or $3. All that being said, you’ll have to make some sacrifices when you go to the bar, and you’re very lucky if you can get the best of these worlds.
What to Order
If you’re just turning 21, you’re going to be drinking whatever your friends order you at the Phyrst. This could range from common mixed drinks like rum and cokes to the ever humiliating Blowjob Shot. Once you’re on your own, feel free to experiment. Your days of chugging Natty Light out of a shoe are over.
If you’re at a crowded bar like the Gaff, the Phyrst, Indigo or any of the other clubs try to keep it simple. Don’t be that guy and order a Mojito at Pickle’s. First, the bartender probably won’t even make it for you. Second, if they do make it the drink probably wouldn’t come out good, since the bartender is in a rush. Third, you’ll earn yourself some glares from the people next to you for keeping the bartender up. Stick to ordering beer, mixed drinks with only two ingredients (alcohol and a mixer), or bar specialty drinks (i.e. the Phyrst’s Trash Cans). Alternatively, you can head to Liberty or Local Whiskey where the bartenders are trained to make excellent Mojitos, or whatever other cocktail your heart desires. Some fantastic cocktails to try at either of these bars are Old Fashioneds (bourbon or rye with a splash of bitters mixed with simple syrup, and garnished with fruit over ice) or a Negroni (equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari). Either way, experiment to your heart’s content, just not when other people are waiting.
If liquor isn’t your thing there a wide world of beer for you to explore. Many of the bar’s around State College carry a great variety of microbrews and specialty beers on tap. The Bottle Shop, located next to the Deli and across from Chipotle, has a good selection. The Deli, itself, has a good selection on tap.
Nobody, most likely, is judging you on your bar etiquette. For the sake of efficiency, however, you should stick to a couple guidelines. First, don’t clog the bar. There are a lot of small bars in State College (Chrome, Envy, The Den, etc.) Once, you get your drink vacate the bar area, and go to the back. Other people are waiting for their turns. So while you sip your drink at the bar someone else is staring maliciously at the back of your head.
When you’re entering the bar have your ID out, and cover fee in hand. People often stumble around with their wallet, and cash. If you’re already drunk, and you start dropping your stuff the bouncer won’t let you in. Not only that, but the people behind you are going to be upset. Also, don’t pay a 3 dollar cover with a $100 bill.
Always tip your bartender. $1 a drink is a classic rule of thumb. Paying in cash is a plus. When you pay with your card the bartender’s tip is delayed until the charge on your card clears. Paying cash is a much appreciated gesture, and the bartender might even hook you up.
Finally, have fun! You’re only in college a few more years. Enjoy it with your friends while it lasts. Stay off your phone if you’re at a quiet bar. Some of the best conversations you’ll have are with your friends, or strangers, after a couple of drinks. Try new drinks. Alcohol is a lot like food. A good bartender is trained to make all kinds of delicious drinks, like a chef is trained to make delicious food. Do some research, find out what drinks you think you would like, and try ordering them. If a bartender doesn’t know a drink just give them the recipe. Just keep in mind, though, that this is best done when the bar isn’t crowded, or if you know the bartender well. Another part of the bartending job is to be friendly and know how to have a conversation.