ALCOHOL, AMIRITE?!???? Kegstands! Body shots! Sake bombs! COLLEGE!!!!!! WOOOOO!!!!!! Yup, as it turns out, drinking is pretty fun. And a frat party is not, mercifully, the only place you can do it:
BEC’s (2271 Shattuck Ave., 510-647-1790, BecsBistro.com) has lots of neon lighting, a drinks menu heavy enough on sugar to give you diabetes on the spot, and a clientele that appears to have quite the predilection for bleached hair and spray tans. If these things sound appealing, by all means, go.
Beta Lounge (2129 Durant Ave., 510- 845-3200, TheBetaLounge.com) is a trendy, loungey wine/beer/sake bar that’s probably patronized in about equal measure by Cal students and locals. There’s usually a DJ on weekends, and if the food’s a bit pricey, the 4 p.m.-9 p.m. happy hour makes up for it.
Free House (2700 Bancroft Way, 510- 647-2300, BerkeleyFreeHouse.com) opened just this year, but the cozy indoor/outdoor gastropub has already become a campus institution, probably mostly by virtue of the fact that it’s just across the street from campus. There are always at least fifteen good local beers on tap, and the fries are otherworldly.
The Graduate (6202 Claremont Ave., Oakland, 510- 655-8847) is a bit of a hike down College Avenue from campus, but it’s the best dive in the area and, quite possibly, the world. A student ID will get you dangerously cheap drinks, the jukebox is amazing, and there’s free popcorn!
Henry’s (2600 Durant Ave., 510-809-4132, HenrysBerkeley.com) is kinda fancy and not necessarily the kind of place where you want to get super-duper shmammered — which is good because a lot of professors go there. Its Bloody Mary has Guinness (!) in it and is completely wonderful.
Jupiter (2181 Shattuck Ave., 510- 843-8277, JupiterBeer.com) is a brewpub-type place with a massive, magical patio; excellent pizza; and, often, live music. It’s a bit classier and less student-centric than places closer to campus, and thus a nice break from everything.
Kip’s (2439 Durant Ave., 510- 848-4340, KipsBerkeley.com) used to be campus’ most unabashedly skeezy bar, complete with neon-colored liquor, auspiciously sticky floors, and unfathomably cheap pitchers. Now, it’s cleaned itself up a little and sells such delicacies as salads and imported beer along with those aforementioned $7.50 pitchers of PBR. We’ll leave it up to you to decide whether this is an improvement. Either way: KARAOKE!
Lot 68 Bar and Cafe (2230 Shattuck Ave., 510- 644-2992) is most notable for the fact that it’s inside the Shattuck Cinemas movie theater, and that two of the theater’s screening rooms will actually let you bring your drinks inside: mega classy movie date, dudes.
Your classic, competent campus sports bar, Pappy’s Grill & Sports Bar (2367 Telegraph Ave., 510-705-1207, PappysonTelegraph.com) is home to approximately one million television screens; lots of football fans; and, it should be noted, a very cheap happy hour.
Revival Bar + Kitchen (2102 Shattuck Ave., 510-549-9950, RevivalBarandKitchen.com) is actually part of a schmancy restaurant downtown and is thus a little on the little pricey side, but it’s a great place to go if you’re trying to impress someone, you want to feel classy, or somebody else is paying.
Shattuck Down Low (2284 Shattuck Ave., 510-548-1159, ShattuckDownLow.com) is mostly a music venue, but there’s often not a cover and the drinks are good. Downtown Berkeley’s best bar for dancing, by far.
Sportivo (2132 Center St., 510-705-1801, SportivoBarRistorante.com) is a sit-down pizza place/sports bar with insanely strong drinks and not one but two happy hours.
Berkeley’s biggest/only billiards bar, Thalassa (2367 Shattuck Ave., 510-848-1766, ThalassaBar.com) has 23 (!!) tables and much better cocktails than you’ll typically find at a pool hall.
Triple Rock (1920 Shattuck Ave., 510-843-2739, TripleRock.com) is a cozy, wood-paneled brewpub/sports bar with excellent beer. It tends to be more popular with grad students than undergrads, but that shouldn’t stop you. If you’re into hops, their IPAX IPA is the best in Berkeley.