“If you could shower at Esca, why would you ever leave?” —Jacob Masters ’15
Ever since the Nest, the go-to Wednesday Bar Night spot of past years, closed, we’ve been curious about the Middletown bar scene. While Corner Pocket emerged as the popular new bar night spot, there are many different bar and happy hour options, all with different vibes and not confined to a Wednesday night. So a few of the 21+’ers on the Wesleying Staff (kg, Samira, Astag_rocky) decided to do some investigative research on the Mtown bar options, especially since there have been a surge of complaints about an apparent dip in the Wesleyan Night Life. Don’t say we’ve never done anything for you.
Each bar or restaurant is rated on a scale from 1 to 5 (5 being the best), on experience, price, and “familiarity with Wes students” (meaning how prepared the place would be for the onslaught of college kids). We tried to find Celtic Cavern but were unfortunately too drunk to do so. We were also hoping to go to Gatekeeper’s solely because of this Yelp review: “5 of Americas most wanted criminals are usually seated at the bar and there’s a bevy of lovely $10 hookers outside the front door…what more could you want?,” but it’s closed. And… RIP Shadow Room. We hardly knew ye.
Disclaimer: Most of this adventure happened over a two-day period and we’ve certainly missed some places with cool bar scenes. If you have suggestions, please comment with them so that others can check them out!
The Corner Pocket, 73 Ferry St [Astag_Rocky] Experience: 3.5, Price: 3, Familiarity with Wes students: 5, Ambiance: college-y. Hot night: Wednesday; it’s the preeminent bar night spot this year.
Since the Nest’s untimely demise, The Corner Pocket has become Wesleyan students’ go-to venue for Wednesday “Bar Night” and now Thirsty Thursday. On any given Wednesday, one can find an odd mix of athletes (lacrosse, baseball, and football players primarily), and overly eager freshmen looking to social climb or meet that special someone. While Pocket’s décor seems unimpressive on the outside, its space is big enough for dancing and it boasts a flat screen and pool table.
Though things get progressively ratchet as the night develops, The Corner Pocket crowd has a lighthearted atmosphere. You’ll dance to “Candy Shop” at least three times, watch some sports on the big screen, and feel self-conscious as you marvel at the impossibly sculpted athletes surrounding you. While overcrowding has been a bit of an issue in the past couple of weeks, Pocket offers an open area out back to get some fresh air, play some flip cup or mix it up with the hulking bouncer out front (I wouldn’t suggest this). The staff is polite, keeps the bar line moving, and boasts an impressive selection of drinks, although it’s important to assert yourself if you are trying to get drinks at the bar.
Pro Tip: Take the Ride there and make sure you have some way of getting home because it is a hike from campus and walking across Main Street at 1 am drunk and disheveled is not how anyone sees their ideal Wednesday night playing out.
All things considered, The Corner Pocket has proved to be a worthy successor to the Nest’s former bar night glory.
Esca Wine Bar and Restaurant, 437 Main Street [kg and Samira] Experience: 4, Price: 5 (the actual restaurant is very expensive, though), Familiarity with Wes students: 3.8, Ambiance: fancy/reminiscent of the Count of Monte Cristo. Hot night: Thursday
PSA: On Thursday evenings Esca has an extended happy hour from 5 PM – 10 PM. Thirsty, anyone?
Demographic: young professionals and students, surprising number of Pete Wentz lookalikes. We saw a man with a waxed mustached walk in.
Getting to Esca at 9:20 is a race against time or another force. More like a power hour than a happy hour. cc @wesleying
— Kate Gibbel (@khgibbel) November 14, 2014
The Esca happy hour is pretty fun by my estimation. You can drink a pint of Dogfish beer for $2 and stare in wonderment at the huge cask embedded in the wall, the bottles adorning the bar, and the other impeccable lounge-like decorations. You can also wonder if they’re playing Norah Jones during their happy hour and belligerently tell your friends that you need them to be silent in order to ascertain if the bar is actually playing Norah Jones. Spoiler Alert: Yes, Esca plays Norah Jones during its happy hour. Their bathrooms are clean, fancy, and somehow encourage lots of selfies…
Here are some fancy non-sensical reviews from my notes page:
“The vibe is bourgeois and gentile, it juxtaposes the uncouth volubility of campus, it is the incipient foray into the ‘real world’ at a significant bargain, and this explains its success” — Nikhil Lai ‘15
- Jacob Masters ’15: “If I don’t go to Esca this week, I will shrivel up and die.”
“high ceilings, good vibes”
“cheap drinks, end of the week”
“If you could shower at Esca, why would you ever leave?”
Keagan’s Irish Pub, 544 Main St [kg and Samira] Experience: 4, Price: 5, Familiarity with Wes students: 1.5, Ambiance: bar-cool-casual. Hot night: up to you
Keagan’s was a nice gem to find on our bar crawl. There were intimate booths to sit in and lots of TVs and a pool table. There was more upbeat music here, and less Norah Jones. Some Irish rock. The bathrooms were not great, but were usable (and it turns out that if you’ve had X-number of beers, you can totally use a toilet with no seat. Go figure).
Keagan’s is probably the best place to test out whether you want to be a pro-barfly. Less fancy than Esca, and fewer people mean that you have more chances to flirt with/harangue the bartenders and get yourself a free shot. Thursdays mean $2.00 Coronas, Wednesdays are for $0.50 Wings, and on Mondays they have half priced mixed drinks if you feel both fancy and audacious enough to go to a bar on a Monday.
Eli Cannon’s, 695 Main Street [Rebecca Sokol ’15, guest writer]
Experience: 5, Price: 3, Familiarity with Wes students: 2, Ambiance: 5. Hot night: whenever
kg’s housemate weighing in here: Normal people do not understand my love for Eli Cannon’s. One week in September, I was there Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. In my defense, I only had one drink each night.. but still, it’s that good. Go there. Eli’s is a craft beer oasis, located at the very north end of Main St. The beer list never fails to please, with over 30 local craft beers for relatively low prices. That said, its still craft beer, so don’t expect to spend less then $5. My favorite beer I’ve had there was Stone Xocoveza Mocha Stout; imagine beer and chocolate having a baby. Eli’s even sells beer from the mysterious new North End brewery that I have yet to locate. The music is eclectic and poppin’, and the decor is…eclectic. They have free popcorn, and in the summer, there is a weird but awesome fake beach/beer garden in the backyard. Plus, the food is great! Get the spinach artichoke quesadilla.
La Boca, 337 Main St [kg]
Experience: 4.5, Price: 3, Familiarity with Wes students: 4, Ambiance: low-key fancy. Hot Night: Tuesday
I will be completely transparent: I love La Boca for the trivia night. Every Tuesday at 8 PM, the fearless MC Matt (or as I like to call him, Matt the Hat) leads a mean round of trivia. The rounds get more difficult over time. There is a bonus round and a tequila (!) round. Each team is advised to come up with a clever name and phones are expressly forbidden. You must be 21 in order to participate, but if you are 21 run—don’t walk—down to La Boca on Tuesdays in order to get yourself a table before the festivities commence (or just take the Ride). Their mixed drinks can be pricier, but a Coor’s Light will cost you about $3 (and a nicer beer will put you back $5). All this said, if you win Trivia Night you also win a gift card to La Boca… which clearly should be used at next week’s trivia night.
If trivia isn’t for you, then we can’t be friends and you can also come to La Boca on a not-Tuesday and eat some Mexican food or drink a margarita.
The bathrooms are also nice, if you care about that sort of thing.
Krust, 686 Main Street [kg/word of mouth]
Experience: 3.5 , Price: 2, Familiarity w Wes students: 4, Ambiance: ultra fancy. Hot night: whenever
Whiskey bar, good selection of liquor.
Is the pizza better than Mondo? I don’t know. It depends on whether you like thin-blackened crusts (i.e., New York Pizza snobs should go to Krust). The good news is that pizza is the best food to eat while you’re drinking, so that’s a plus (not actually true, but whatever). My experience with Krust was admittedly not an “out-drinking” situation, but more like a “date-night-eat-some-pizza-and-drink-an-Old-Fashioned” pretty early in the evening to cash in on the 25% off deal before 6 PM they used to have last spring (does this still exist?). To my recollection, the food was good and the one drink I had was great, but I think if I hadn’t gone with my coupon I would have been annoyed with the price.
Shout out to the Ride for taking us to Main Street and picking us up during the first snow of the season. Another shout out to Jacob Masters ’15 who casually wondered during this trip if the Ride would take us to the McDonald’s Drive Thru. Alas, we didn’t ask, but let us know if you find out.