You remember freshman year. Sitting on a futon beneath a bunked bed, sipping questionable merlot that your friend with the most siblings had stashed in their closet since move-in.
It’s Friday. The coldest day in February. And your four hodgepodge buddies who you’re growing to hate half-heartedly sing along to “Sweet but Psycho.”
“Any parties?” someone asks. Suddenly, five iPhone 7s unlock. Thumbs wrestle with Snapchat, shamelessly clicking through stories and messaging Michael from a first-semester Comm B class.
Looks like it’s just another night of the deathly Flamingo Run icee mixed with raspberry Svedka as you roam Langdon (slash Lathrop if you’re a Lakeshore homie) and hoping — nay, praying — that you’d be welcomed with open arms into a house of five senior finance bros based on the fact that you are female and don’t have the bone structure of an American Girl Doll.
Fake IDs didn’t riddle your brain. No one dreamt of a sweaty night in Wando’s. Three years and a whole pandemic later, times have changed. For the worse.
Now, as an upperclassman (one who was robbed of a year-and-a-half of going to bars), you pregame your Thursdays with fear, loathing and absolute resentment for the lines, amount of people and “vodka lemonade please” requests you’re about to witness.
Now that first-years as a species are advancing quicker than normal, your favorite bars — and even the ones you loathe — are packed with dewy eyes and Shein attire.
Fakes are no longer for Witte, Sellery and the only child who thought it was what everyone got before coming to college. Fakes. Are. Everywhere. And they’ve infiltrated State Street and beyond.
When even the Plaza Tavern, the “dive bar” for UW’s “indie scene,” has youngins in it — and not the ones who work for WSUM — you know there’s a problem.
If you’re tired of arriving at a nightlife scene at 8:35 p.m. or scared you might get cancelled for flirting with a 17 year old, it’s time you try a new bar.
Luckily, Madison has a lot of deep cuts. You won’t see anyone below the age of 37 in these establishments:
If you’ve ever wanted to make your Uncle Steve who lives with your grandma but enjoys his life as a “professional gambler” proud, look no further than Caribou Tavern. Taken straight out of your friend’s hometown of BuckFuck, Minnesota, this bar will be sure to confuse, delight and sexually arouse you all within moments of walking in.
My pro-tip for first timers? Order the Malort — it’ll make you feel young again.
Buck and Badger
Similar, but completely different to Caribou, this bar is what Buffalo Wild Wings and Fleet and Farm’s love child would look like in my utopia. Completely smooth paneling and chic decorations, the only thing this bar is missing is one of those fun little hunting games.
The service here is impeccable and the dance floor is almost always open. Grab a whisky on the rocks and chat it up with the bartender — Jett.
Fair Trade Coffee House
So, you’re looking for something a little less Whiskey Jacks and a little more Capitol Square. Keep your sweater vest and blue light glasses on and hop into Fair Trade. I’ve been trying to convince the masses for years now that this is a serious up-and-coming spot.
Outside of burnt lattes and 40-minute wait service, this coffee shop sells wines galore. Conveniently located on State and open until 9 p.m., this is an ideal place for seniors who want to unwind after a long, hard day of existing.
ZuZu Cafe is the perfect establishment for one to get absolutely sloshed at. And luckily, the average ZuZu-goer is either a four-year-old child or 47. With a full bar and full food menu, this place has it all. While a little far, so is Lucky’s. Enjoy your mimosa to the sounds of a lion discontentedly growling and the smells of a fresh gyro being microwaved.
Don’t waste your time and don’t let Freshmen with Fakes™ ruin your life. Reclaim the night by having a terrible time at any one of these gems.
Thank me later.