Tucson: Bar None If You're Under Twenty-One

Here is a guide and critique of Tucson's college bar scene.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bar-Bound in T-Town: Your Ultimate Guide to Local College Bars

As the last blog of this series, I think it'd be appropriate to touch on some key areas I might not have gotten to in this blog. This guide will help you seek even more local bar attractions.

Where else can I go?

Here is a schedule for your typical bar week:
    • Tuesday: Bashful Bandit
    • Wednesday: Cactus Moon
    • Thursday: North on Fourth, Bison Witches, O'Malley's
    • Friday: Championship, Dirtbags
    • Saturday: Championship, Dirtbags
Popular places for celebrating a 21st birthday/power hour:
    •Trident Grill & Bar
    •The Meet Rack
Some new bars on the rise:Here are other helpful links:

How can I find out about some of the newest, coolest college events and deals?

The Internet has made word-of-mouth be second to the eyes and ears of the Web. MySpace, one of the most popular communicative tools for college-aged students, has made marketing bar events so much easier. Some Tucson bars have MySpace profiles that somehow find college students, add them as a friend, and then send invitiations and bulletins to announce future events.

What are some good points of logic for bar visits?

Here are some tips on bar etiquette:
Here are some tips specifically about bar tipping:

    Tipping Etiquette
    • Cocktail server - 15-20%. (f.y.i For free drinks in Vegas, tip $1-2 per round)
    • Bartender - 15-20% or $1 per drink.
    • Wine steward - 10% of wine bill.

How do I dress?

It all depends on which bar you're going to. Obviously, if you're merely daytime drinking on University at No Anchovies or Frog & Firkin, you need not dress up more than you did for class that day. If you go nighttime bar hopping, at typical rule of thumb is: dress to impress. This is, of course, the University of Arizona where the people are beautiful and the competition is plentiful. I don't mean that you have to wear a dress and suit; however, you should not wear sweat pants and tennis shoes. The only time sports wear seems acceptable is on the day of a football or basketball game. On those days, Wildcat spirit is both a necessity and highly encouraged.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Bashful Bandit: there's nothing bashful about it

The Bashful Bandit, 3686 E. Speedway Blvd., is known to most people as a biker bar. On the southwest corner of Dodge and Speedway, this bar is reserved for the leather-wearing, motorcycle-riding crowd. On Tuesdays, however, the bar undergoes a transformation - the crowd goes from biker to college.

Tuesday is Ladies Night, a.k.a. college night. Buy a domestic long-neck beer for $1.50, or take advantage of a few other drink specials. As one of thbars that is frequented on a regular school night, it is surprising how large of an audience this bar gets. Parking can sometimes be a hassle depending on the time of night you get there. You might have to park on the street instead of the parking lot. The few Tuesdays that I went to the Bandit I luckily didn't have to wait in line. When you are about to walk in and you get your ID checked, the door man sometimes uses a little nifty device that scans your idea. I'm not really sure what it does, but it showed a neon light that said 21. I guess the little piece of technology has some sort of way of scanning your ID to tell your age. It was actually pretty cool to see.

Once you step into the biker bar, you see the bar to your left and the crowd surrounding it and the area to the right. To the right is an open area filled with students talking, dancing and laughing at the drunk people making fools of themselves singing Kareoke in front of all their peers. (Believe me, Karaoke can get pretty intense and can be really> fun) Most people don't do the songs justic when they sing, yet they still sing their little hearts out not knowing that they are off-tune or off the beat. Nevertheless, it's a fun opportunity to request your favorite song and get a few minutes in the limelight.

It might take a little while to order a drink from the bar, but the easy alternative is a pretty quick trip to one of a handful of stands that are placed around the bar selling beer and a few other liquors. Cash is essential for these beer/alcohol stands. (But if you do start a tab at the bar and perhaps forget to close your tab, you will be charged a 20% gratuity when you pick up your credit card the next day, f.y.i) The beer stands have places for tips as well.

The crowd at the Bandit seems to vary every time I'm there. It's always very diverse - from gangsta to preppy to grunge-ish. No matter who you go with, you'll always find someone you know there. Really, it's a place where you can't not fit in. The Bandit is a unique change of scenery and the hoppin' place to be on a Tuesday night!

Check out other reviews of The Bashful Bandit:

AZ Night Buzz Review

City Search Review

Arizona Daily Wildcat Review

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Buffet: your choice of...hotdogs, booze and games

The Buffet outside

The Buffet, 538 E. Ninth St., is the ultimate Tucson must-see dive bar. Though it may not have some bizzarely far-out, strange aspect to it, its appeal stems from its opening time: 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

The Buff is one of the bars you hear about a lot, yet never really know what it was you heard. I heard the name mentioned so many times when I was an under-ager, mostly for two reasons: 1) people raved about playing shuffleboard and 2)the bar was really lenient with fake IDs.

On the contrary, my first experience at the Buff proved that wrong. It was a friend's 21st birthday and the Buff was our second stop. The bartender requested that we show our IDs as soon as we walked in. We stood around the bar, patiently waiting our turns. The door man went to a back room to retrieve a book. It was soome sort of book that showed and described every state's driver's license. One of the girls had a California license (and believe me, she really was 21) and the expiration date was 3 years after the issued date. California licenses are supposed to expire 5 years after the issue date. The confusion with the years could have come about because the girl had to replace a stolen license over the summer. Nevertheless, the bouncer would not let her remain in the bar. He took her ID for a few minutes and gave it back to her a lfew minutes before the cops came and verified that it was in fact a legitimate ID. Ironic that this was the same bar so many under-agers bragged about getting into easily.

The Buffet bar

The place was pretty small, though it seemed like an okay size for the amount of people who were there that night. I'm sure it gets crowded on busier nights. As you look around you notice that behind the bar there are snacks for sale - not your typical bar sight. The next interesting sight was the sign for hotdogs. This actually seemed like a great idea seeing that hotdogs seem to be the greatest remedy for the drunken munchies. I sadly did not try it, though next visit I might take the plunge.

The Buff is known for being the oldest bar in Tucson in the same location (its nearby neighbor, the Shanty, opened earlier but at some point in its history switched locations). The decorations were nothing too extraordinary, kind of your typical rusty-looking place, cluttered with random pictures and of course a moose's head hanging on the wall. The pool table area seems to take up about one-fourth of the bar. On the opposite end of the bar, tables are lined up against the walls for extra seating (aside from the bar).

The Buffet pool tables

Now here's the special you might have heard of: "Happy Minute." Two times a day - 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. - you will receive a replica of the exact same drink you possess. At the 6 p.m. Happy Minute, you'll get the extra drink for free. At the 11 p.m. Happy Minute, it'll cost you $1. This is a very surprising treat for visitors who are there and don't know the rules. Like magic, one drink becomes two!

The Buffet is also home to many crazy stories. You hear people talk about drunken memories that ended at the Buff. One time, some friends and I randomly went on a road trip to In-N-Out Burger at around 11 p.m. one Sunday night. It was a 3-day weekend, so we were all pretty drunk (aside from the sober driver of course). Well 7 hours later we finally made it back to Tucson and two of the guys made their way to the Buff to continue their night. Yes, it is a feat for college students to drink at 6 in the morning.

Another story I heard was from a 36-year-old man I met at a bar on my birthday. He happened to be a UofA alumn visiting for his flying certification (something like that). Back when he was in college, he and his SAE fraternity brothers construed a plan to see how long they could spend at the Buff. They arrived at 6 a.m. The rules were that they could not step foot out of the bar and they had to have an open drink at all times. They snacked on hot dogs and a pizza they had delivered. They made it to about 12 hours there. Being anywhere for 12 hours straight is an accomplishemnt in itself.

So now it's time for you to make your memory at the Buff. See you there bright and early!

Here are some other reviews of The Buffet:

Arizona Daily Star Review

Tucson Weekly Review

Another Tucson Weekly Review

City Search Review

Monday, November 13, 2006

Maloney's: big enough for two worlds to collide

Maloney's frontMaloney's on Fourth, 213 N. Fourth Ave., is a bar that joins together the college scene with Tucson's older adult crowd. Some people dub it a Cheers-like bar, with the vast space, pool tables and decorative photos and quotes. With the music blasting (everything from classic songs to the newest popular hits) it is an enjoyable experience to hang out in this dimly-lit bar.

Not your typical predominantly-college-crowd bar, Maloney's is filled with multiple bars with lots of room for many bar-goers. With a large balcony, this bar gives people the chance to get fresh air along the long deck. When I went here the past time, it was Saturday night of Homecoming weekend. I waited in line for 20 minutes, which wasn't bad at all considering campus bars had 2-hour-long waits. I actually had an interesting experience getting into Maloney's this time. The people I was with managed to get some sort of VIP cards for us. With this card, you can enter on the left side of the balcony and get right in. Well, somehow the situation got screwed up and the guy wouldn't let us in until a guy tipped him. I've seen this done in movies before, but this was a first in real life. What an exciting start to the night.

Maloney's first bar pic

The first room you walk into has an oval-shaped bar completely stocked with alcohol. Booths surround the room to give people a break from standing. One very big plus about this bar is its large availability of seating; however, on crowded days you will still find yourself standing. The walls were decorated with a variety of pictures and quotations. The wall to the restrooms from this front room is filled with pictures of famous performers when they were younger.

The next room inside is larger, with a few different levels of floors. Here you'll find a couple pool tables and another bar. The place was so large I didn't even make it to the other side (mostly cause I was a little too scared to leave the crowd I knew - an older man who sat 5 feet away from where I stood was staring at my group the whole time).

Maloney's second bar pic

The drinks were priced pretty well. I didn't know it at the time, but I guess they have some sort of beer deal on Saturday nights. This was a lesson to remember to ask for specials before I order. Nevertheless, a large glass of a mixed drink (my favorite: Long Island) was only $6. The glass seemed almost double the size of glasses at Dirtbag's. I was happy.

The crowd flowed from inside to outside and back inside. The doors were wide open to make access to the outside very easy. Overall, the place has a very fun set up. It's spacious like O'Malleys, but not as spread out. The bar just looks very well-kept and upscale-ish, without seeming too expensive. The only downside I saw, was not the place but the crowd. I prefer to hang out at bars with people my age. The crowd at Maloney's definitely has an average age of mid- to late-20s, maybe even higher. It is more a T-Loc scene than the other bars I've written about previously. However, it is still a fun place and an experience you can't neglect!

The bar hosts wrote a note on the Maloney's Web site to all bar patrons - a cute little poem. It reads:

We've created a place where people can gather
A Place to have fun and kick up a lather
Where spirits are high and filled with good cheer
Your problems and troubles have no place here
We offer good food and drink at a low price
An idea created from our patron's advice
So grab a cold beer and settle on in
The fun at Maloney's is about to begin


Check out other reviews of Maloney's:

Travel Yahoo Review

Pub Crawler Review

City Search Review


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Monday, November 06, 2006

Che's Lounge: unique place, unique culture

Che's bar picChe's Lounge, 350 N. 4th Ave., is on the corner of 7th Street and 4th Avenue.

My experience at Che's was characterized by a few surprises. As we stood outside waiting til the strike of midnight (to celebrate a friend's 21st birthday), we heard a man sitting on the ground, leaning against the wall, singing an oldies song. The only thing that was unique about this rendition of the song was that the man sung it in a very deep, creepy-sounding voice. I was beginning to feel a little disturbed by the song until I looked down the sidewalk and saw a woman running in a white angel costume.

There must have been something in the air that night. I thought she might had been a die-hard Halloween fan, trying to celebrate the holiday a week later. I then learned it was Dia del Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. There had been The All Souls Procession 2006 earlier that day, so the people in costumes must have been part of those who had participated in that event. I even saw a woman dressed up in all black, looking like she was dead and walking like she was dead - with arms stretched in front of her walking like a zombie.

Che's Lounge was very small, yet the colorful walls (purple, red, orange, etc.), decorative artwork and mirrors, jukebox and old-school video game systems gave the atmosphere a sense of fun and excitement that took attention away from its size.

Che's bar pic

The prices of drinks seemed very decent. I got two mixed drinks for under $10. It's hard to discover a bar's specialty while you're actually there if they don't have menus/signs around showing you the specials. Guinness beer seemed to be one of the bar's popular choices. I heard a college student take a sip of it and say, "It tastes like coffee." The artwork was definitely my favorite part of the place because it ranged from black and white to very colorful, in all sizes, and at all all heights on the walls.

Che's bar pic2Though Che's isn't a bar whose name I hear everyone going to all too often, it was a fun place to hang out with a group of friends. The scene wasn't a college one, that's for sure. I did get caressed and smiled at by a 30-something-year-old man as he walked past me. However, it was a fun little bar that had some character to it. They have live local bands playing on Fridays and Saturdays, with no cover charge. Che's is definitely a place to check out whenever you are seeking a change of scenery!

Check out other reviews of Che's:

City Search Review

AZ Night Buzz Review

Yahoo Travel Review

Tribe.net Review

Arizona Daily Wildcat Review

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Date Dash: the unexplainably unique semi-bar experience

The bar at the Date Dash

I know that a sorority/fraternity date dash isn't REALLY your typical bar experience, but it is an experience that will drastically change once you turn 21.
For those who have never attended a date dash, it is basically a dance with a theme. You dress up to whatever the date dash may be called: Westerner, White Trash, Boogie Nights, Pajama Jam, Heaven & Hell, etc. The sorority or fraternity, whoever is holding it, invites date(s) and meets at the Greek house. Yellow school buses transport the group to and from the destination (which is unknown to everyone but the executive members and social chairs of the organization - to prevent drunk-driving).

Upon arrival at the destination, usually a conference room at a hotel, intoxicated college students make their way to the inside. Music blasts from the DJ - the latest trendy rap/pop songs mixed with the best dance hits from the past. Students dance provocatively to the tunes while sporadically taking breaks to eat the provided snacks.

The bar is separated from the rest of the area. Security surrounds the bar entrance to ensure that no one under the age of 21 enters. The drinks, no matter who the vendor may be, are usually over priced. Price doesn't really seem to be a huge factor because students are usually seeking any possible way to keep their buzz. The drink selection varies depending on the location. Usually, domestic beers are the popular choice. The only stickler for the bar situation is that the are to which you are allowed to drink is very limited. Sometimes, it is merely a 20 feet cubic space. You must finish your drink in the designated area before you leave. Drinks can not leave the vicinity and be brought to the dance floor (It's a precautionary measure to ensure that under-agers will not drink).

It may not be the typical bar, but turning 21 changes your date dash experience. You can now feel free to enter ANY part of the party experience. Believe me, you feel left out when everyone is squeezed into the bar area drinking and socializing while you are left solo on the dance floor.

Make your own Halloween drinks



Find the perfect costume for any theme:

3 Wishes

Costume Universe

Annies Costumes

Hollywood Costumes

Monday, October 16, 2006

Meet Rack: The only place in Tucson where party meets GOD

"It aint cheating; it's just a slice of the cake that no one misses"-God

Meet Rack SignThe Meet Rack, 210 W. Drachman St., is a place everyone must see. It's one of those bars you want to check out - not for the alcohol - but for the experience. It was my first real sober experience at a bar, but to be honest I think I might've been a little scared being drunk there (at least without many guys I know surrounding me).

Meet Rack BarDon't get me wrong, it was a great experience! The only thing is the place is in a bad neighborhood, and the environment is kinda--sleezy. What do I mean by sleezy? Get a tour from God (the previous owner of the bar--a man who legally changed his name from Jim to God) and you'll experience a fascinating point of view from this outrageously funny and unique man.

You begin in the sex room filled with posters and sex machines. God walks you around every point of the room and explains the history and details of every piece of machinery. He even tells you the story of his two-time win in a masterbation contest.

sex room1 sex room2 sex room3

sex room4 sex room5

After the room of promiscuity, he leads you to the women's bathroom. He demonstrates the little condom contraption. Inside the bathroom hangs a condom machine. When a person purchases a condom, the moment she walks out the door a loud bell sounds, signalling to the entire bar that this person is planning to get lucky.


Next stop in the tour - God's bedroom. A few minutes listening to God's view on life will bring laughter and cheer into your night. He tells of his single life, and how he enjoys it. The funniest quote of the night was when he talked about his freedom of doing what he wants. "It aint cheating; it's just a slice of the cake that no one misses," he said. I guess that's his theory on dating. It sounded funnier coming from him. He explained how he had the best set up anyone could ask for. He lived in the bar - a second away from all the women and alcohol he needs. that does sound like a pretty good set up. Along with the pornographic pictures on his walls, he had a mirror above his bed. Every man's dream.

The bar is decorated with photos of him and many other people, like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Elvis. Bras hang above the bar. The largest bra I've ever seen is signed with a heart and a woman's signature. Everything in the bar seems to follow the sexual scheme. Even the menu of drinks are all named with a sexual undertone, written on laminated cards that are held together by a metal ring. "Classy" is not a word to characterize the place, but "thrilling" definitely is.

Overall, the bar was an interesting experience. Even without a sip to drink, I left with some of the most unforgettable memories of my college experience. (For a little while I even got to experience God telling a story at the bar--drawing a picture on a yellow notepad explaining that your first 10 years are filled with drool, your last 10 years are filled with drool, and the hundreds of thousands of days in between should be filled with partying). It's one of those places everyone needs to see at least just once. It might not be your bar of choice for every weekend. However, it is a great place for birthday celebrations or an escape from the monotony of the same-ole scenery.

God Card Front GOD Card BackAnd for those who tend to do outrageous things when drunk, you can experience the infamous branding with God's face. What does it mean? You'll be marked for the rest of your life with a man with a beard. But it also means you'll get 50 cents off every drink at the Meet Rack for the rest of your life. You'll have a card marked with a number that IDs your branding. It's a story to tell your kids. Be sure to go to the Meet Rack and check out one of Tucson's craziest places. You'll leave with a the bar God's name marked on your arm (don't worry, a little scrubbing the next day can take it right off).

Check out what other people think about the Meet Rack:

Tucson Underground

Best of Tucson: 2003

Ten Ways to Shock Visiting Parents (Daily Wildcats)