Drinking, drinking, drinking. It seems like every event in most college students’ busy lives revolves in some way around going out. Whether it’s scheduling yourself for no Friday classes so you can party it up on Thirsty Thursday, planning to get breakfast at the IHOP sometime around 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon to leave your morning open for hangover-nursing, or making all your friends memorize the information on your fake I.D., plenty of us have no qualms about our choice of weekend (or even weeknight) calendars.

As you make yourself at home here in Madison, you’ll undoubtedly notice one thing about University of Wisconsin students — they love to party more than most. There’s certainly a reason this fine establishment was recently named the No. 3 party school in the nation, after all. But with a seemingly endless line of bars, pubs and lounges lining State Street, University Avenue and Capitol Square, where’s a student to begin?

That’s where this column comes in. Every Friday, drop by the ArtsEtc. section of the Herald to read about the watering holes that end up with so much of the average student’s paycheck each week.

“So what,” you might be thinking. “I know the hot spots already.” Well, that may very well be true. But what about that out-of-the-way lounge you may or may not have spotted on Wilson Street? Or the swanky pub you thought you couldn’t afford?

The point is there are plenty of little-known establishments in the Madison bar scene. If you play your cards right, you can drink margaritas for $3 at one of the most expensive hotels in town, pay $4 for a tall glass of Bud and a few hours of music from a great local band just off State, fend off the middle-of-the-week blues with a $1.50 can of PBR at the Vintage on a Wednesday night, or take advantage of a $10 lunch-and-unlimited-beer special during Packers games at a bar just off University.

If you’re willing to venture out of the immediate downtown area, even more options present themselves. The Willy Street Pub and Grill (known to regulars as the “Wisco”) has outdoor volleyball leagues that anyone can join. The Inferno hosts a Leather & Lace event the first Saturday or every month, giving even the most reserved, studious types the chance to dress up in fetish gear and let go of some inhibitions — even if only for a night.

There’s also the Capital Brewery just off the Beltline in Middleton, which has an extensive outdoor beer garden and brews some of the best beer Wisconsin has to offer.

Throughout the semester, I hope to introduce you to some of these features of the Madison drinking scene — and more. Everyone knows that Tuesday is Flip Night at State Street Brats. But did you know that on the same night you could venture just a few blocks further to Main Street for $1.50 rail drinks at the Paradise?

There’s more to going out in Madison than getting wasted on University, stumbling to Ian’s to stand in line for pizza and dragging ass home at 4 a.m. Plenty of Madison students would be up for grabbing a few drinks with friends and making it home before dawn. One of the great parts of this city is that the bar scene is conducive to basically any kind of drinking you want to do.

As I explore everything Madison has to offer in the way of nighttime entertainment, I welcome your feedback, suggestions and comments. Do you have a favorite hotspot that doesn’t get the business it deserves? Is there a neighborhood bar that offers something spectacular you can’t get anywhere else? Am I missing a terrific drink special that people should really know about? Please, let me know! You can always reach me via e-mail at [email protected].

Watch for the next Happy Hour this Friday. Until then, bottoms up!