Welcome Freshman, Part 2: Best College Bars In New York

by Chiara Atik · August 17, 2010

64,000 freshmen are moving to New York City in the next few weeks to start college. 64,000 eighteen year olds, navigating the subway, looking for bars that don't card, overrunning St.Mark's. Welcome to Part Two of our five part guide on how to survive your college years in New York.-



The downside to going to college in New York? Tiny dorm rooms, "dry dorms", and, perhaps the biggest party-killer of all, the annoyance of having to sign people in to your building (at NYU, for instance, only three people at a time. Party?)

The upside? There are plen-ty of bars in this city, some of which may even turn a blind eye to a not especially convincing fake.

NYC College Bars


Josie Woods

"Every mistake I made Freshman year involved Josie Woods, and the NYU Swimteam." Casey C.

Josie Woods is an NYU legend. There is absolutely NO reason it should be so popular, and frankly it probably wouldn't be if it wasn't for its proximity to the NYU campus (aka next door to class), and their occasional laxity with ID checking. Packed to the gills with students from September to May.


When I told a Fordham friend I was writing about Mugzs, they responded with "Do you need the Bar Owner's cell number?" THAT is how attached people get to this Bronx watering hole. In fact, the picture at left is of a Fordham student and a friendly bouncer, circa 2005. Fordham kids attend Mugzs more frequently than they attend class; Monday thru Sunday, it's the place to be.

Asian Pub

If you're a college student in New York, Asian Pub is a rite of passage. Its insanely cheap cocktails are perfect for that brief, glorious stage in life when you've first started drinking and are therefore still easily seduced by drinks called "Sex on the Beach" or "The Woo-Woo." Also, if you're especially broke, you can totally make a meal out of the freeedamame they give you.


The Heights Bar & Grill

Most of the good bars up near Columbia have closed in recent years (West End, Nacho Mamas, etc), but a few good options remain, and The Heights is one of them. It's smallish, but it offers good wings, good prices, and a good crowd of students. Conveniently located right near Frat Row, but expect to be carded.


Down The Hatch

If you go to Down The Hatch, you will leave smelling like beer, chicken wings, and Curved For Men. This bar is the absolute closest thing NYC has to a frat house, plus the added bonus of cockroaches.  Am I making it sound awful? It's...not. Well, no one in their right mind would go there after college. But you haven't gone to college until you've gotten beer spilled on you by a very drunk person in a polo shirt.



"Their carding policy was literally 'You look like you shouldn't be roaming the Bronx alone. I'm going to assume you're a Fordham student and have your parents credit card. Get in here.'" Anonymous

Gormans is the unofficial Fordham Freshman bar (apparently you have to work your way up to Mugzs?). Located "approximately a mile walk through a wildly dangerous and unlit neighborhood", Gormans is cheap, friendly, and most of all, lenient towards nervous 18 year olds.

Bar None

Bar None is not that cheap and not that good, but nevertheless Bar None has quite the loyal following. "Don't go there if you don't like getting drunk, because one way or another it will happen" says one Yelp Reviewer. "Worst bar I have ever been to", proclaims another. Do any two reviews better epitomize the essence of a good college bar?




Biddy Early's

Located in the Financial District, Biddy's provides much needed libations to the students of Pace, Pratt, and St.John's.  This very friendly bar is perfect for beer pong, bar food, and Buds. Word to the wise: this bar is a contender for Worst Bathrooms in New York.



Jake's Dilemma

Highest density of baseball hats outside of Yankee Stadium, and a definite favorite among Columbia Students. Jake's Dilemma has some of the best happy hour deals in the city, with $1 drafts on Mondays, $3 cocktails, and 1/2 the entire bar until 8 pm. There are beer pong tables galore, but the best part of this bar has got to be the 90s music they play all night, perfect for kids who came of age in the last glorious decade of the 20th century.


The Sly Fox

"Sneak in through the back. There's a separate entrance for the "Ukranian Restaurant", which shares a bathroom with the bar. So you just walk right in, ID or no!" Joey Perron-Kozar, NYU 08.

The Sly Fox might be the creepiest, divest bar in the East Village, but if you're under 21, sometimes you can't be too picky. Besides, its got its charm in the form of the old men who drink in the early evening, the jukebox, and the hard-to-shake feeling that you're about to get murdered.

And a few friendly reminders, from some people who survived Freshmen year, but just barely...

Beer Before Liquor, Never Sicker.....it's true.

Root Beer is the best hangover cure.

Long Island Ice Teas are delicious, and the best bang for your buck, but pretty much almost always a mistake.

Try Crystal Light and Vodka...it will keep you hydrated!

You will probably walk in on someone in the bathroom/be walked in on in the bathroom at a bar at least once in your college career. It happens.

You know you're supposed to tip bartenders, right? Right.

If you're underage, practice a really good "omg! WHERE IS MY WALLET!" freakout to use right when you get to the bouncer.

Become a regular at a bar...you'll always be able to get in, and get your friends in.

Whenever you get into a bar without an I.D., immediately try to friend the bartender so you can continue doing so for days.

No sneakers, boys.

Know the information on your Fake ID

Carry toilet paper in your pocket/purse because the bar will probably be out of it.

Keep sunglasses in your purse, in case it's light out when you walk home...

Eat something before you go out!

List compiled thanks to many, many former NYC college students, now sitting glumly at their day jobs, wishing they were 18 again...

[Photo Sources: NY Mag, Gawker Webshots, Yelp, Facebook, Nyrr.org]

[Welcome Freshmen Part 1: Guide To Surviving The College Years In New York]