Out of the many bars in downtown Princeton, a few stand out because of their great selection of beer on tap, happy hour specials, live music, youthful crowds and great prices. With the economy not getting any better, any way to save is a good way, especially where entertainment is concerned.
Bars such as the Yankee Doodle Tap Room, J. B. Winberies, the Witherspoon Grill, Triumph Brewery and the Ivy Inn are conveniently located in the heart of Palmer Square and within walking distance of each other. There is also a long line of cabs on Nassau Street, something which should make your usual designated driver very happy. However, if you choose to drive, be aware that there is also a line of cops sitting around the corner. Sometimes it is longer than the line of cabs.
The Triumph Brewery Company on Nassau Street is a perfect place for a fun date or a night out with friends. On Thursday nights there is live music and the establishment is packed with young people being served by attentive and friendly bartenders. Friday and Saturday nights, Triumph hosts local bands or DJs.
If for no other reason, go to Triumph for their locally-brewed beer. There are seven beers on tap, most of which are seasonal. In the fall, for example, Triumph offers a pumpkin ale which is light with a wonderful pumpkin aftertaste. To get the most bang for your buck, order their beer sampler, an assortment of seven beers served in five-ounce sample glasses for only eight dollars. Triumph is a great place if you’re looking to expand your beer repertoire; you can always go to other bars to get old favorites.
“I come to the Triumph every once in awhile to try their new beers,” said Larry Baez, a Business student at Mercer.
“Every hour is a happy hour,” said Eric Vachon, a bartender at the Ivy Inn on Nassau Street. The Ivy Inn offers six beers on tap, beer pitchers, a Jägermeister machine which serves the coldest Jäger in town and a great selection of imported and domestic beers, all at student-friendly prices. If you’re looking to sit back and enjoy a beer in your house but realize after the liquor stores close that you’re out, stop by the Ivy for takeout beer! Another plus of going to the Ivy: having the opportunity to be served by bartender and rising star actor from “One Life to Live,” Justin Kahn.
Wednesday nights are karaoke nights, so if you’re feeling drunk enough, try out your singing voice in front of the Ivy crowd. After you’ve worked up an appetite from singing karaoke, have the bartender call you a cab and grab a bite to eat next door at Hoagie Haven while you wait.
Michelle Obama and Brooke Shields have visited the Yankee Doodle Tap Room. Apart from that, it is clearly one of the least popular Princeton bars. On a typical Thursday night no one was there save a small group of geeky grad students. Not only was there no music playing but the bartender wasn’t particularly sociable.
Alchemist and Barrister on Witherspoon Street offers both quiet as well as party environments. There is a covered patio near the entrance which is dimly lit and usually quiet except for the music playing. They use heaters to keep the patio comfortable even in the winter and it is a great option for smokers as they can walk a few feet, with drink in hand, to grab a smoke. Inside A&B is dimly lit and slightly crowded. Oftentimes they host local bands which set up in a tiny corner of the room, but even if there isn’t a band, this room has music playing and usually a rather loud crowd.
Unfortunately A&B’s prices are less than student-friendly. The A&B can be fun if you go to see a good band play or have some extra money burning a hole in your pocket.
For the perfect Princeton pub crawl start at Triumph and see where you go from there!