If you’ve just turned twenty-one as a student at the University of Iowa, you might find it difficult to think about which bar to go to first. The University of Iowa ranked as the number five party school in the U.S., showing that we both work and play hard. The Iowa City bar scene is very appealing to students at the University of Iowa, as it serves a variety of crowds. With so many sports bars, clubs and locations competing to offer the best drinks around, these bars all offer a unique flair and serve specialty drinks beyond the classic bartender fare.
If you’re a University of Iowa student and you’re struggling to pick a drink, here’s a handy guide to the Top 10 Best Drinks, according to University of Iowa students.
1. Vodka Water Pitchers (Field House)
The Vodka Water pitchers ($4 on Fridays) allow you to hydrate and dehydrate at the same time, potentially canceling out that future headache. For partiers or sports fans, this seems like a good break from hard alcohol or beer. It’ll still feel like something worth purchasing at a bar, but will keep you hydrated and safe.
“You would think that vodka water would be really bad, but it tastes more like water than vodka, honestly. It’s a good thing to pace with on a wild night,” University of Iowa senior Farhan Ammar said.
The mixture also dilutes the taste of pure vodka. It makes for a practical drink at Field House, whether you’re watching a game, catching up with friends, or dancing the night away.
2. Cherry Bombs (DC’s)
Walking along the ped mall, you’ll likely find people relaxing outside of DC’s, enjoying their beverages. DC’s has a sit-down vibe, allowing you to catch up with old friends and enjoy a tasty drink over the weekend. They offer a variety of specials all week to help you unwind. One popular example? The $4 cherry bomb shot, which uses grenadine to give a cherry aftertaste. Like all of their specialties, DC’s carefully crafts them for a good drinking experience. They allow you to get back to talking across the Ped Mall. Like all the drinks at DC’s, they are carefully crafted to be enjoyed. Just make sure to enjoy them in moderation!
3. Jell-O Shots (Studio 13)
Throughout the night, servers will dance across the floor with trays of vodka Jell-O shots. Once you turn 21, exchanging cash for one of those bad boys feels so satisfying.
“There is no sexier feeling than taking a shot off of that circular tray and paying the bartender. You’re right on the dance floor, so it feels so seamless,” University of Iowa senior Mei Littler said.
It seems like the perfect way to explore a new elements of a place you may have gone to already. The small size and delicious taste mean you can go right back to partying. Just like the bar itself, these shots have the makings of a perfect night out.
4. Draft Beer (TCP Pool Hall)
For a calmer vibe, the TCP Pool Hall offers a very different drinking experience. The pool hall offers a variety of games you can play after a stressful midterm or final. TCP is a quieter hall, by UIowa student standards, and their speciality alcohol is fittingly not as strong. The hall boasts 26 draft beer lines to choose from. You can sip on these while playing pool with your friends.
”They have a wide range of beers, a lot of different types. A lot of my friends aren’t beer drinkers, but there tends to be something for everyone. It’s fun to get a different drink as you play pool, it’s a good reason to come back a bunch of times,” University of Iowa senior Dominik Bostic said.
To be honest, I’m not much of a beer drinker. However, with 26 options, it’s likely you can find something to drink while playing pool. Having a beverage with you also increases the sense of playing a sophisticated game. You’ll have all night (at least until they close) to sip and try new drinks. Outside of Octoberfest, this is the best spot for beer fans to go to in Iowa City.
5. Personal Pitchers (Brothers)
Brothers is many people’s first stop for a game or a meal before a night of going out. As a restaurant and bar, they prioritize taste in a lot of different ways. However, they also understand what many people come there for. To provide ways to drink and bond with friends, they grant tables with their Personal Pitchers. These 32 oz pitchers seem incredibly cheap for the amount you receive. With over 20 flavors to choose from, it’s likely you’ll find something for everyone to enjoy. This will last a while, meaning you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy your Friday night.
With the cozy atmosphere at Brothers, you can watch the game and calmly finish your drink. If you somehow desire a pitcher refill, this shouldn’t put too much stress on your wallet, either. Brothers understands the needs of its patrons and find many colorful —or should I say flavorful— ways to fulfill them.
6. Moscow Mule (Mickeys)
Mickey’s Irish Pub is a popular spot to spend your whole night. Whether for their Wednesday trivia nights or for a game, they offer a lot to their patrons. Their food and drink options also vary. This provides good fuel for the longest of trivia games. Their varieties of Moscow Mules let you mix it up on a long night.
“There are all these flavors you can add. It’s like you’re designing your own mule,” University of Iowa junior Faith Lots said. “I personally love the pear flavor.”
With so many flavors, you can nurse a drink throughout your Mickey’s stay. It also allows you to feel like you get something new while sticking to your comfort zone. Not to mention, the sweetness of Mules makes them the perfect starter drink for someone who’s recently turned 21. They’re sweet in every way. With so many flavors to choose from, you have the excuse to order a new one (or two) every week.
7. Gamer Elixirs (Double Tap)
I’ve talked about how bars can appeal to sports fans, or to dancing fans, or for those who just want to taste something sweet. However, not everyone in the world likes those things. It’s important for bars to service a variety of patrons. Double Tap, also known as Tap Tap, has a wide, unique appeal. They offer arcade games and drinks for the biggest gamers around. Like with pool, playing a game with a drink can bring the experience to a whole new level.
“When you’re playing a game, having a good time, and then you get something that tastes just as good… it’s the kind of experience you can’t get at home, even if you have video games and alcohol. It’s hard to recreate that feeling. It’s one of the good things about going out,” Bostic said.
Their unique drink options include their “game elixirs,” unique cocktail creations. They name them after the video games they may offer there, such as “Pac-Man,” “Triforce,” and “Ender Dragon.” For an experience that makes you feel like a video game character, they serve Health and Mana potions. No matter what Elixir you grab, it’ll make for a unique gaming experience at Tap Tap. Gamers should know to flock on over to Tap Tap for all of their gaming needs.
8. House Shots (Roxxy)
You can still enjoy drinking in style if you’re not a gamer. The sister bar next door to Tap Tap, Roxxy, has a unique dancing experience. With their 80’s rock interior and DJ, they also allow for a fun night out on the town. Drinking anything in that environment can make you feel so cool. In such a good environment, you know you can trust the house. House shots have $3 deals on Saturdays. This makes them a cheap alternative at a fancy place such as Roxxy. There’s a unique appeal to getting a deal at a place many people consider high-end. You know you’ll have a good shot experience with the Roxxy bartenders. Their house shots will make for a night to remember.
9. Themed Drinks (Gabe’s)
Roxxy is not the only bar to go to for those wanting to explore more of the music scene. Gabes famously doubles as both a bar and as a music venue. They host bands and DJs that throw themed dance parties. These events allow you to rock out and have a fun night. Sometimes, their bar can also celebrate a particular act with some specialty drinks.
”They had a Taylor Swift dance party night in March last semester, and I forget the name, but they had this special Taylor drink they were making. I think it was cheaper, seven dollars or so, and it was delicious! It helped to make a special night even more special,” Littler said.
They offer unique cocktail creations for large events like the Taylor Swift dance night last Spring that Litler mentioned. These highlight the unique features of the fun events they perform. Getting to enjoy a crafted treat while dancing and listening to music feels like a transcendent experience. Curious about what they might offer? Find an act you are interested in and go on that night to see what the bartenders might offer!
10. Shirley Temple (every bar!)
Not to be a buzzkill, but I would feel bad if I didn’t mention a non-alcoholic option. For one, not all college students can drink or want to drink, but they might still want to go out with some friends. Also, it seems important to drink in moderation. One great way to pace yourself and not overdo it is to take a pause with a nonalcoholic drink, Many bars offer the Shirley Temple as a popular non-alcoholic option.
Club soda and grenadine make for a tasty treat, especially if they add a cherry to it. For anyone wanting to cut back or not drink, this allows you to still have a fun beverage while out on the town. You should know that they offer so many good drinks at Iowa City bars that don’t have alcohol. Shirley Temples are cheap, tasty, and still help you to enjoy yourself all night long. If you really want something strong, though, you can also ask for a Dirty Shirley Temple. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t drink— it’s to say you have options.
College Magazine does not promote underage drinking. Please drink responsibly.