Daily Egyptian

The four-year bar veteran’s reflection

Kellen Lopez, of Long Beach, Calif., dries an overflowing glass of beer before serving it to a customer Thursday, May 5, 2016, at Hangar 9 in Carbondale. Lopez has worked at Hangar 9 for two years and said he enjoys the diversity in Carbondale’s beer culture with respect to types of beer and the age-groups of drinkers. “I enjoy gaining experience from the older generation about why they enjoy the craft expansion of beer as opposed to just drinking your regular Bud Light, Busch Light,” Lopez said. “Right now my favorite beer is the Founders Mosaic Promise. Founders Mosaic Promise is a single hop beer and it’s delicious.” Hangar 9 is hosting the CarbondALE Brew Fest afterparty Friday night and granting free entry to all Brew Fest attendees.

By Aaron Graff, @Graffintosh

Asher Roth’s song, “I Love College” says he loves college and loves drinking. That raises the question, where are the best places for the latter in Carbondale. I’m not a 10,000-hour expert, but after four years, I know my way around town. 

Sidetracks Bar & Grill

Pros:

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Tracks has one of the best beer gardens in town, if not the best beer garden. It is especially a good time when it’s full out there. There’s also free popcorn.

Cons:

The biggest issue with Tracks is the layout of the bar. The inside bar is tiny, and the area for customers by it is too. The bar outside is decent-sized, but it is only staffed if there is a good number of people there. Upstairs is a cool area, but it is also cramped by people playing pool. This bar also does not “own” a night of the week (Tres Hombres has Mondays, Stix has Wednesdays, etc.) While it has deals, like any bar, it’s never the “go-to” bar for deals.

Stix

Pros:

This is the best bar if you’re hoping for sexy time afterward. It’s hot, you’re sweaty, the dance floor is small, which forces you to bump bodies, the drinks are cheap and usually fairly strong.

Cons:

The hotness isn’t great, especially if you are sober. But the heat is way more tolerable than the smell of the men’s bathroom. It compares to a latrine, missing only daddy long legs. The crowd is usually relatively young, which can help those aged 21 and over get served faster, but it’s a bar more fun for the younger crowd. It feels like there is eventually a point where you say, “I’m too old for this.”

Levels

Pros:

While I miss the old Saluki Bar and Callahan’s, this bar is great on weekends. You can usually get free cover with Rovertown on Fridays and a code word on Saturdays. There are three bars scattered, so if the line is long at one bar, you can go to another. It’s the best bar to play my favorite game — “What are the odds?” — which is dares based on chance. It’s also the best place to go dancing in town.

Cons:

At times it feels like a high school dance. Almost everyone in there is too afraid to hit the dance floor before someone else. Then the whole thing gets too packed by the end of the night. If the actual Levels were a bit bigger, more people would fit comfortably to shake their groove thing. It’s also probably the most likely bar in town for a fight to break out either inside or in the parking lot.

Pinch Penny Pub

Pros:

Pinch draws the best crowd of college students of any bar. You’re rarely going to go to Pinch on a weekend or even a Thursday and not see someone you know and can hold conversation with. Even if that isn’t the case, it’s full of students to meet. This bar’s beer garden is probably a little better than Track’s. There’s plenty of outdoor and indoor space. The bathroom lines are never too long. You can play bags, or cornhole. There are good shows. It also has free popcorn!

Cons:

It’s a little pricey.

Copper Dragon

Pros:

Copper doesn’t feel like a college bar. The first time I was there, I felt like a prince in castle ready to drink. The shows are usually entertaining, especially if you can get close to the stage. Again, there are multiple bars to choose from. This bar is probably the most appropriately staffed bar.

Cons:

This place is expensive. There’s no way around a usual $5 cover. Then two or three drinks in, an Andrew Jackson is out of your pocket. Harriet Tubman will soon be a hero again at the ATM. If you go too late, you probably aren’t getting in. And more bathrooms would be awesome here.

Underground

Pros:

Half-off Thursdays are a dream come true. The food is delicious and especially well-priced then. It’s the most chill bar in town with a fair mixture of students and community members.

Cons:

It seems understaffed fairly often. The servers are always friendly and apologetic when business takes a little longer than it should, but it happens too much. It also closes a little earlier than other bars sometimes.

PK’s

Pros:

For me, location. I live fairly close. It has a lot of history with it too, which is always fascinating to learn about. You’re hardly going to find bars where frequents get their own mugs. It’s 21 and over, which is both good and bad.

Cons:

For me, location. I live fairly close and sometimes I drive through the alleyway, which gets crowded with bargoers, who don’t like to move. It’s not really a college bar, but rather a community bar, so you’re hardly going to meet peers there.

Tres Hombres

Pros:

Monday nights at Tres cannot be beaten, especially if you like to venture away from just beer. The Irish car bombs are $2.50! You don’t even get that on St. Patrick’s Day elsewhere.

Cons:

It’s attached to the restaurant, which makes it a little spacious for how few people are typically there. Feels like you can play hide and seek. It’s also a little far away from where many students live.

The Hangar 9

Pros:

Hangar is the cleanest and coolest venue of any Carbondale bar. It’s big with a nice layout and has a big bar for fast drinks. An underrated pro is that Hangar uses wristbands. While, it’s a little more costly and risky, there’s no after ink to scrub really hard.

Cons:

The crowd is hit or miss. Sometimes there are many students there, other times you feel out of place as a student.

The Cellar

Pros:

It’s a 21 and over bar, which filters out all the 19- and 20-year-olds when you don’t want to be around them. It has the best gambling section in Carbondale with more machines, which always seem lucky when someone I know plays them. It also has shuffleboard, which is a great bar game. The pool tables play pretty true, and they have the right amount of exclusion from the rest of the bar.

Cons:

The bathroom is one of the worst in town. There’s two toilets. It feels like you’re crossing streams. The crowd is usually small and more community members than students.

Aaron Graff can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3334.

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