Seven Bars, Seven Hours. Get Your Liver Ready.

Warning: This is not for you under-21 youngsters, or for the faint of heart.

You’re finally 21. Gone are the days of hoarding red Solo cups so you could get into a sweaty, stuffed Ashford St. house party for free. Away with the damp basements, crowded frat parties, unhygienic bathrooms, vats of mysterious jungle juice, and foamy cups of beer. Now you get to navigate the magical land of bars.But, in a city like Boston where there are so many options, how do you choose just one?

Well, fortunately for you (and unfortunately for my liver), I didn’t choose just one bar. Instead, I partook in a mini pub crawl through the streets of Allston-Brighton to weed out the good, the bad, and the downright sad of Boston bars. So have a carb-heavy dinner and brace yourselves because this is a test of endurance and liver strength:

Stop 1: White Horse Tavern (116 Brighton Avenue)

It seemed prudent to start on Brighton because those bars tend to close at 1 a.m., rather than the 2 a.m. last call at most bars on Harvard Ave. First on the list was White Horse.With its bright red facade, White Horse is hard to miss on Brighton Ave’s bar strip. The interiors are classier than your average watering hole, with ample seating, dark wood finishings, exposed brick, and chandeliers providing warm lighting. There’s two large bars inside, with plenty of televisions, pool tables, and a jukebox (drunken karaoke anyone?), with mostly Top 40 playing. There’s also a spacious patio in the back, equipped with an outdoor bar and, graciously, heat lamps.

For a weeknight, there was a nice-sized crowd there, mostly twenty-somethings, slightly older than college coeds. Drinks were reasonably priced, with the cheapest beer being the $3 Narraganset Lager and vodka cocktails at $5 (alas, their $3 vodka cocktail deal ended early October). With twelve beers on tap and no cover charge at the door, White House is a casual place to come hang out with friends. Rating: 4 out of 5 beer mugs.

Sunset Grill & Tap

Stop 2: Sunset Grill & Tap (130 Brighton Avenue).

Walk a few feet from White Horse to Sunset Grill & Tap (not to be confused with Sunset Cantina), part Mexican restaurant, part well-stocked bar. With 112 beers on tap and 380 bottled beers, Sunset has one of the largest beer selections in the country, and a reasonably priced one. The menu features several back-to-school drink deals, with beers like Shipyard Light costing only $3.99 If beers aren’t your thing, house margaritas and most cocktails are $5.99, including the yummy “Gilligan’s Island” (orange vodka, OJ, peach schnapps and pineapple juice. Mmm).

Bartenders were friendly and knowledgeable, and even offered up tasting samples, which is great if you’re not exactly sure what you want to order. However, the place is big, so while service may be good on a Wednesday night, don’t expect the same kind of attentiveness on a busy Friday night.  Because its kitchen is open late (its late night menu is until 1 a.m.), Sunset was bustling even on a weeknight. Despite the enormous beer selection, the bar area is small, and there weren’t many people hanging out there for drinks. Mostly, it seemed that the munchies were the big draw: a ginormous plate of piping hot nachos coming out of the kitchen literally had people salivating at the sight (okay, that may have just been me). So if you’re in the mood for a beer with some artery-clogging deliciousness, Sunset Grill & Tap is the place for you. Rating: 3 out of 5 beer mugs.

Stop 3: Big City (138 Brighton Avenue)

Head upstairs from Sunset Grill & Tap and check out Big City, a hybrid bar and pool hall owned by the same owners as Sunset. The place is large, with two ballrooms filled with champion-sized pool tables and foosball tables. There wasn’t much of a crowd, a handful of people at the bar, with smaller groups playing pool in the next room. The bartender couldn’t remember drink orders even though the place was far from crowded, and I had to ask three times for a Big City Cosmo (citron-flavored vodka, triple sec and cranberry juice), which ended up tasting like cough syrup. Fail.

Big City

Big City has the same drink deals as Sunset, although from Sunday-Tuesday they do have the “3-P’s” deal, which includes one hour of pool, a pitcher of beer, and a small cheese pizza for $19.99. However, Big City’s selection of 80 beers on tap, while impressive, doesn’t hold a candle to Sunset’s vast selection. Unless you’re in for a night of pool playing, I vote skip this one and grab another round of beers and nachos at Sunset instead. Rating: 2 out of 5 beer mugs

Stop 4: The Draft Bar and Grille (34 Harvard Ave)

On weekends, the Draft plays out like a BU reunion. You’ll literally see every kid you’ve ever remotely come in contact with during your years at BU, which could either be a great thing or the worst thing since Paris Hilton’s last album. The past few times I’ve been there it’s been packed to the hilt, and even on a slower weeknight there’s a sizable crowd.

The Draft is a straightforward bar, churning out your average pub fare and drinks. The bartender was engaging. I didn’t know what I was in the mood for so he asked me what type of drinks I like and surprised me with a very yummy cocktail that tasted like an alcoholic cream soda, like the best of childhood mixed with the best of adulthood.

One of the perks of The Draft is the large outdoor patio with a bar, and many tables with umbrellas. Boston’s starting to get its signature chill so take advantage of the space while the weather’s still on our side. Rating: 3 out of 5 beer mugs.

Stop 5: Common Ground Bar and Grill (83 Harvard Ave)

After the Draft, head up the street to Common Ground, but go on a weekend. On weekends Common Ground sees a decent turnout, but on a weekday, the bar was in dire need of resuscitation, with only a few small groups and a couple stragglers hanging around the bar. The famed Irish bartender was not there, and thus interest quickly waned, and us pub crawlers escaped early.

Common Ground apparently does have some positives though. The bar regularly features live music on weekends, but it can get loud because the place isn’t that big. There are a load of TVs and projectors everywhere so you’re set if you’re there to watch a game. Thursday’s (80’s night) and Friday’s (90’s night) both draw nice crowds, but there is a cover (usually $5) on weekends, and prices are a bit more expensive than other Allston bars (beer pitchers go for $15). With so many options in the area, I say pick another place to ruin your liver in. Rating: 1 out of 5 mugs.

Shots, shots, and more shots at Wonder Bar.

Stop 6: Wonder Bar (186 Harvard Ave)

Stumble up Harvard Ave to Wonder Bar, which is less of a bar and more of a dance floor that just happens to have a bar in it. When the pub crawlers arrived, we found that it was Dubstep night and thus $5 cover at the door. When we started grumbling (see: slurring) about the price, the bouncer easily let us in for free (score!). It wasn’t packed, but there were still people on the dance floor, many of whom were oddly dressed like Neo from The Matrix. May or may not have been a drunken hallucination.

The bar wasn’t crowded at all, with two bartenders lounging around. “Don’t come here tonight!,” the bartender yelled over the music. “Come here Friday!” On weekends, Wonder Bar becomes a sweaty, dancing mess of people gyrating on the dance floor. It’s the closest thing Allston has to a night club so college kids take advantage. On weeknights, it runs as more of a lounge, with a late-night menu (until midnight) and large booths strewn around the place. Music choice is dictated by the night’s theme– Mondays are industrial night, Tuesdays are underground electronica night, etc– so call to check what the night’s theme is before heading over.

Drinks are a few bucks more expensive than Allston’s dives and beer bars (cocktails on average are $8), but we did get free drink tickets and shots from one of the bar’s owners because it was a slow night, so it evens out. If you’re in the mood for more of a club feel close to home, brave the sweaty masses and head to Wonder Bar. Rating: 3 out of 5 beer mugs.

Stop 7: Great Scott (1222 Commonwealth Ave)

Apparently you went to Great Scott. You don’t remember going to Great Scott, but there are pictures of you at Great Scott and a digital camera never lies. After the blasting music of Wonder Bar, Great Scott is a good place to cool down after a night of bar crawling

If Wonder Bar is a dance floor with a bar, Great Scott is a bar that happens to have a dance floor.  There’s one single bar, with tables and bar stools in the front, and the dance floor (not huge but sufficient) and a stage in the back. Great Scott regularly has live entertainment throughout the week, with everything from comedy shows, to local bands, to even a burlesque live drawing class (18+, $8). Because of all the live shows, there’s usually a cover charge (generally under $10, but it depends on the event), but drinks are inexpensive. Great Scott’s also known for its weekly dance parties, particularly The Pill, a 21+ dance party featuring a Brit Pop and Mod theme. So if Wonder Bar’s not your scene to bust a move, head over to Great Scott for a chill but fun night of drinks and dancing. Rating: 4 out of 5 beer mugs.

There you have it. You should be sufficiently intoxicated at this point, so head to Shaw’s for some drunchies and pop some Advil before you sleep, because you’re going to have a killer hangover tomorrow morning, my friend. You’re very welcome.

About Chree Izzo

Chree Izzo (COM/CAS '11) loves pop culture more than Snookie loves tanned juiceheads, which is saying something.

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