Every bargoer prefers some bars over others. Columnist Erin Davoran gives her opinion on Athens’ numerous watering holes.

If you are looking for a graduating senior during these last few weeks of the school year, there’s a good chance you’ll find many of us at the bars.

Something about the dwindling numbers of days left in Athens and realizing we will soon leave this town and its abundance of businesses with liquor licenses has us seeking haven at our favorite drinkeries as often as possible.

We are drinking away our sorrows about graduation, savoring the cheap prices found only at college bars and basking in the last few weeks of irresponsibility before entering the real world.

The bountiful bars of Athens have served us well, and we’re not ready to say goodbye. Well, at least to some of them.

All bargoers have their preferences, myself included, based on factors such as daily deals, familiarity with the bartenders, typical crowds and general atmosphere (read: smell).

By my count, there are 20 bars in Athens. I may even be forgetting a few (or purposely excluding them. No one ever texts a friend “Hey, wanna go get a pint at Bdubs?).

That’s a lot of bars to shuffle around. To help out, here is my completely unsolicited opinion on all 20 - well, actually, 18. Sorry Grinder’s and Cat’s Den, you’re too far down Union for me to ever have gone to, but there’s still time!

Smiling Skull

I have so many friends who love the townie favorite. I cannot. My experience is very limited, in fact I’ve only been there once. And I really do want to go again for a karaoke night. But I can’t bring myself to go back to the Skull because the one time I was there with friends, I was walking down from the outside deck back inside and saw two people literally having sex on the stairs. Once I wiggled my way around them, there was no going back.

Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery

Jackie O’s is classy and friendly. They have great food, great people and great drinks. Jackie O’s is where my dad and I listened to a Pink Floyd cover band my first Dads Weekend and where I performed in the Lost Flamingo Company’s Rocky Horror Picture Show this past October. Unfortunately, I don’t like beer so I cannot fully appreciate Jackie O’s craft brews, but I am fond of the pub nonetheless. I just wish it was closer to my house or the other bars, so I would go more often, but I’m sure the regulars there enjoy being away from the sometimes annoying crowds.

The Union

Though temporarily out of commission, The Union still deserves a spot on this list. The Union is where I saw LFC's Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time. People who love The Union REALLY love The Union, and I’ll be glad for everyone when it rises from the Union Street Fire ashes.


Two words: liquor pitchers. More words: I like Lucky’s a lot. The bouncers don’t let in a lot of underages and there are plenty of fun shots and drinks to choose from. The mozzarella sticks are to die for, and they don’t make a bad salad either. The seating near the bar is iffy at times but for the most part manageable. The bathrooms are too small though.

Cat’s Eye

Many bars have pool, but Cat’s Eye also has foosball, if you’re into that. A much older, chiller crowd, Cat’s Eye is a good place for anyone looking to escape the youths. If Cat’s Eye was a person, we wouldn’t really be best friends because we don’t see each other enough, but when we do it’s nice and cordial.

Red Brick Tavern

Red Brick used to be known for its 18-and-up nights which got sloppy fast, because freshmen in college do not know how to drink responsibly. The basement was a gross pit of spilled beer and grinding bodies. The bathrooms were always destroyed. However, that was a Red Brick of years past. I have heard that the basement has now been closed only to private parties and the 18-and-up nights no longer exist. Hopefully this is true. Though the physical damage is fixed, the reputation still needs some recovery time. I think that’s why Red Brick happy hours, called “Brick Break,” sometimes go all day. Keep trying, Red Brick. Those of us who destroyed you will soon be gone.


I gave Pawpurr’s so many chances. Like Lucky’s, Pawpurr’s has liquor pitchers on Wednesdays. There’s 50-cent draft nights on Tuesdays. Apparently sometimes they have Miller’s Chicken? But Pawpurr’s is getting too packed and too pungent way too often. I will now only go there for shuffles and Burmuda Triangles.

The Pub

I’d never been to The Pub before this year. I’ve now been initiated by ordering a rainbow shot (warning: it’s really eight shots. I was not told this before ordering) and eating a Pub Club. The Pub has great bartenders. However, the bathroom is really inconvenient and when it’s crowded, it’s CROWDED.

J Bar

A fun place to dance, especially Thursdays, when it’s not absolutely packed, and the bathrooms are decent, but I have found the service to be very slow. When friends want to go to J Bar, I go, but other than that, it’s meh.

The C.I.

C.I. or die. I have not been going to C.I. as often as I used to because of crowds and youngsters and bars I’ve found I like better, but C.I. still has to be my No. 1. I know and love way too many of the bartenders and on any given night could go out alone and run into friends there (I know because I’ve done this). C.I. will be the bar I return to as an alumna and reminisce about all the shenanigans we had together. Also, though C.I. doesn’t accept credit cards, it has an ATM with a very low fee to get cash.

The Crystal

Ugh. Stal. Not a fan. I like the popcorn, and it was on a shuffle stop in Crystal I did my first, and thus far only, shot ski, but I avoid Crystal like the plague when I can. The regular crowd is not my cup of tea, and though I’ve heard the bathrooms were redone, but Crystal used to have the worst bathrooms on Court Street. Always say no to Crystal.

The Pigskin

Though I’m obligated to say C.I. is my No. 1, in reality Pigskin is my favorite. It’s really spacious, so even when it’s crowded it doesn’t seem that way. The bartenders are awesome, and there’s PING PONG. Pigskin is great for grabbing lunch, watching games (if you’re into that sort of thing) or a great night out. When the weather is nice, the back porch is great (usually smokey though). The bathrooms are too small for how big the bar is, but you can’t have it all.


Hot nuts cure all. Tony’s is definitely a townie bar, in the best way possible. It’s pretty small, but usually cozy. And because I love them so much, I need to repeat it: Hot nuts cure all. Also, I have vowed not to graduate until I go to Tony’s on a Tuesday for Jazz Night.

Casa Nueva

I don’t really know if Casa should be on this list, because it’s so cool it really deserves its own category. But I’m going to include it because I want to rave about it. Casa’s food is delicious. The live music is always stellar. Their drinks are pricey but that’s because, as a co-op, they don’t accept tips. And the price is worth it. When my family visits, I take them to Casa to impress them with a unique, quality time on the town. And there are board games! Another goal before graduation: Attend Casa’s ’80s night on a Friday night.


I kind of don’t want to talk about how much I love Overhang because I’m afraid if I do, it will be ruined. Overhang is the newest and one of the best bars in town, but people tend to forget it’s there! It always seems much cleaner than anywhere else, the bartenders and the drink specials are great, and it’s usually not unbearably overloaded with people, as the bouncers are pretty strict with IDs. So I guess I’m saying go to Overhang, but don’t go until I’m gone.

Courtside Pizza

I’ve already given my thoughts on the actual pizza, but as far as Courtside as a bar goes, I tend to stay away. I went more when I had friends living in Courtside Apartments and, like JBar, I go when friends go, but like Crystal, the regulars are not my people. The renovations made while the liquor license was suspended are nice but not overwhelmingly awesome. It’s still hard to find a seat there. I like Courtside better when the weather is warmer (we’re getting there!) and I can hang out on the patio.


As a person who usually bounces around the bars near the Court Street-State Street intersection, I hardly ever make my way all the way to Broney’s, but I have a good time when I do. The champagne slushies are delicious. The bar is huge and has a great patio. When the bathrooms aren’t messy, they’re some of the best. I’ll always remember Broney’s as the bar where I saw a mom making out with a college kid during my first Moms Weekend. Oh, the memories.


Last but not least, Stephen’s. I have an obsession with the chocolate-covered pretzel shots at Stephen’s, but I don’t go there a lot to get them. Stephen’s used to be a really cool place — not a lot of people went — but recently it’s exploded in popularity. Good for the business, bad for someone who doesn’t want to put up with a crowd of people she probably doesn’t know.


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Well there you have it, my opinion on Athens bars which is very subjective to certain personal experiences and the people I hang out with.

I know when I have to be an “adult” and go to bars in cities that don’t have the plethora of specials found all around Uptown, full of strangers I have nothing in common with and crowds that would put the most jam-packed HallOUween, Homecoming, or fest weekend to shame, I will miss each and every one of the listed establishments.

For now, I will join my fellow graduating seniors Uptown in the places we have spent more time in than the library. Drink responsibly and tip your bartenders. Cheers!

Erin Davoran is a senior studying journalism. What's your favorite Athens' bar? Tweet her @erindavoran or email her at ed414911@ohio.edu.