One thing University taught me? How to drink beer like a champ. I entered my formative drinking years delicately sipping rum and diet cokes through a straw (like the class act I am) and ended with a tall can of PBR in each hand, grinning like a maniac and chugging like an Irish mill worker. And it’s not just beer I love, it’s pubs. Free peanuts, graffiti scratched on tabletops, filthy doorless bathrooms and amazing jukeboxes. This is my element. And what better time than as a fresh-faced co-ed to experience all the dives in your new home town? Go forth and order pitchers at these She Does The City tested-and-true watering holes.
If you’re near Ryerson campus, check out Imperial Pub for the upstairs library full of books and vintage nudies. For after-class-hours fun, grab some beers and comfort food at The Beaconsfield’s 5-to-7 special: 8 bucks gets you a delicious main and a pint of Labatt 50. U of T favourite Einstein’s boasts campus convenience and an awesome old-academics-club vibe, and if you’re looking to keep it cheap, head further west on College to Bistro 422 (422 College St.), where pitchers of stomach-curdling home brew are only $8, surrounding apartments have built questionable foot-bridges to the rickety back patio, long island iced teas are so gigantic and potent they should come with a Canada Health warning, and a Thursday-night raffle party is festive, cranky and hilarious. For the true college experience, the Annex is where it’s at. You enter The Green Room (296 Brunswick Ave.) from the back alley, and are greeted by two levels of cute co-eds eating amazing muchos nachos by candlelight. For a less student-y, more rockstar vibe, check out Ted’s Collision (573 College St.), where the bartender’s iPod is perpetually stuck on 90’s-nostalgia blared at ear-deafening volume. The interior features peeling paint and rickety old school chairs, a giant fan and a pool table that’s seen better days. Melting candles in wax-caked Smirnoff bottles create a charming fire hazard, and the back patio is both charming and skeezy. (No, those things are not mutually exclusive.) Lastly, if a truly apocalyptic evening is what you’re after, grab a cheap pitcher and cheaper shots at The Dog’s Bollocks (817 Queen St. W.) on Queen, a large and rowdy bar with a fireplace and more than enough room for the loudest of parties.
Bifteck (3702 blvd St-Laurent) is the essential Montreal bar where, like at Cheers, everybody knows your name. $6 for 2 gin and tonics, $10 for 5 shots of any bar rail booze, $9 pitcher. Go to Le Distillerie (300 Ontario est) for the greatest cocktail you’ve ever had, served in a mason jar the size of your head. You need to order the mojito your first time. Head to Brutopia (1215 rue Crescent) for fine beers brewed on the premises (try the Raspberry Blonde) and fabulous live music. Speaking of live music–for the finest bluegrass, pool, and resident pooches to pet (YES! Dogs at the bar at long last!) check out Barfly (4062 blvd St-Laurent) on Sundays. We also highly recommend Chez Serge (5301 blvd St-Laurent) if you want to drink yourself into a stupor and ride a mechanical bull; it’s really an essential thing to do before you graduate.
For a true student experience,check out open-mic nights on Mellow Mondays at Koerner’s on the UBC campus. Get a pitcher at The Cambie in Gastown-since it’s also a youth hostel, you’re bound to meet some foxy foreigners. The King’s Head (1618 Yew St.) has a fantastic, chaotic old-timey vibe, and the two levels are always packed to the rafters. Gargoyle’s has student night on Mondays, with $2.99 pints and shots, $3.50 Caesars on Tuesdays, and live local acoustic on Wednesdays-but the real night to go is Sunday, when they have the drink specials from the week at once. Score cheap Guinness at The Legion (2655 Main St.) on Main St. (Weird? Yes. Awesome? Yes.) Hit up Pat’s Pub for a pint of their all-natural, preservative-free brew.