Best bar for… happy hour
The Heidelberg, 410 S. Ninth St.
It isn’t by coincidence that The Heidelberg is a serious CoMo institution. Happy Hour at the ‘Berg lasts from 3:30 to 7 p.m. weekdays and from 10 p.m. to midnight Mondays through Saturdays. That’s when you need to take advantage of drink specials on everything from draft beer to house drinks, and the Berg’s legendary appetizers, which are buy one, get one free. Repeat after us: deluxe club potato skins. And that’s just the beginning. But, if you don’t feel like accidentally running into your J-School professors here, head to Campus Bar and Grill for similar buy-one-get-one apps and cheap pitchers galore.
Best bar to… dance your pants off:
Quinton’s/Tonic Nightclub, 124 S. Ninth St.
After drinking in Quinton’s rather choice rooftop views, take the catwalk over to Tonic, where the dance floor awaits. Unlike Roxy’s, the music at Tonic is generally a lot less of the pounding-migraine-bass type and just generally more accessible and dancey. Just two weeks ago for Tonic’s Halloween bash, the nightclub was so packed, there was a legitimate cause to fear we’d all melt into one giant amoeba that bopped along in time to Meghan Trainor. Typical weekends aren’t nearly as jammed, but a crowd here is always fun because everyone knows — or at least thinks they know — how to get down.
Best bar for… the clique
Penguin Piano Bar, 1025 E Broadway
Take your besties to celebrate their b-days at Piano, because it just doesn’t get classier than live, dueling piano players — or $2 champagne. There’s usually a small line and cover at the door, but if you get a big group out together, it’s worth it. The music and layout of the bar, which includes a second-floor balcony and stage, make Piano much less crowded-barnyard than other popular favorites like Harpo’s or Bengals. If you still don't want to swing cover, try to get in around midnight, about an hour before last call. You can usually skip paying that extra $5 and still get in on some Journey action.
Best bar for… a night without judgment
Eastside Tavern, 1016 E Broadway
Regardless of whether you’re into Eastside’s weekly Dirty Disco hipsterthons/dance parties or not, you need to go to Eastside on Thursday nights. Thursday is karaoke night. Cheap drinks, a free water cooler in the corner, the value of which you will know not of until you’ve spent an hour screeching along to someone’s take on Whitney Houston, and a crowd that knows just as many weird ‘90s songs as you do. Almost every night here ends with strangers linking arms and belting out Train. It's magical. Do we even need to mention that it’s right next door to El Rancho?
Best bar, period.
Shakespeare’s Pizza, 225 S Ninth St.
How do we love Shakespeare’s? Let us count the ways. There’s the easy access to the best pizza in America you’ll ever have the pleasure of lining your stomach with. There’s the homey wooden booths, the gently weathered bar and the enormous patio and tent out back. There’s the perfect mix of all kinds of students, with a healthy sprinkle of townies and families to keep things down to earth. There’s the $6 Long Islands. If that doesn’t float your boat, there’s the $4 triple wells, where, as you watch a vodka cranberry get poured out for you in front of your eyes, you and the bartender share an implicit understanding that this is not a vodka cranberry. It is a glass of vodka, with a suggestive splash of cranberry juice. Stay thirsty, MOVErs.
As always, remember to drink responsibly. Or at the very least, bring your own damn hair tie.