State College has so many bars. Most of them are super good. The issue is that there are so many ways to rank bars in town that we can never come to a consensus on which one is "the best." Heck, we can never come to a consensus on what "the best" even means.
So we're here to help by providing you with a random ranking of bars based on a handful of criteria. This is not meant to be taken as gospel, but if you want to do that, go ahead. We'll still love you. Also, this only includes downtown bars, so a shout out goes to places like Otto's and Happy Valley Brewing Company, which would have slayed in this competition.
CRITERIA ONE: DRINK SELECTION
4. The Deli & Z-Bar
A special shout out goes to Kildare's, which is no longer with us but had the best drink selection in town. Taking its spot at No. 1 is Liberty, which has a wide selection of craft beer on tap, a whole bunch of bottles of stuff, and a stocked liquor shelf. They have Blue Label there. I will never be rich enough to drink that but I'm glad to know it exists.
Zeno's is a classic place with so many delicious and unique beers. Primanti has a whole lotta stuff on tap, it's kind of amazing (I think the number of beers on tap is around 50, but I'm probably wrong). The Deli & Z-Bar's selection is great, and Pickles has a bunch of beer and a good selection of mixed drinks. It's fun for the whole family.
CRITERIA TWO: FOOD
1. Local Whiskey/The Phyrst
2. The All-American Rathskeller
5. The Darkhorse Tavern
Ok, so the No. 1 answer is more Local Whiskey than The Phyrst, because no one is getting anything fancy delivered downstairs, but you can still do it if you wish. Their food is unreal. The best burgers, awesome cheesesteaks, some fairly classy dishes, and those fries. Oh lord those fries. Skeller is a close second because it has Spats' kitchen and you can get their awesome jambalaya while throwing down $3 Jack drinks.
Liberty doesn't do too much outside of sandwiches and flatbreads, but their food is so good. Champs has basically the same menu as the main Champs, so you know that's great. Darkhorse has Pazzo's choice wings. Lord have mercy.
CRITERIA THREE: LIVE MUSIC
2. The Phyrst
Oh Zeno's, your live music is always spectacular. It's never the usual group of top-40 cover bands down there, it's talented musicians who sing songs that aren't by musicians that populate the radio. Get off of my lawn.
Phyrst, Skeller, Darkhorse, and Cafe all have those kinds of bands to various extents, but they're all fun places to go if you want to listen to music. All places are, really. Especially if you're with friends. Nothing is more fun than scream singing "Mr. Brightside" with a group of people whose company you generally enjoy. Cheers.
CRITERIA FOUR: SEATING
3. Local Whiskey
4. Mad Mex
Cafe has the two patios, and while their drinks aren't the best in town, there's nothing like sitting outside and enjoying a lovely day at Cafe. Jumping to Mad Mex, that is a similar argument for inclusion: they have a patio (with an outdoor bar!), but unlike Cafe, if you get stuck inside, there's a ton of seating.
Liberty and Local Whiskey made it because I've probably spent 20 minutes on line at those places in my life. Primanti has a ton of seating so it makes the list too, I suppose.
CRITERIA FIVE: QUALITY OF BARTENDERS
3. Local Whiskey
Zeno's bartenders are these wonderful dudes who have been around forever, crank out drinks like crazy, and are hilarious people who have stories for days. Liberty and Local Whiskey bartenders are on top of stuff and make awesome drinks, and personality-wise, Liberty's bartenders are right there with the people at Zeno's. Phyrst and Skeller's bartenders are on here because they are always swamped and, despite that, manage to get you drinks ASAP. They're lovely.
CRITERIA SIX: SPORTS WATCHING
4. Bar Bleu
5. Local Whiskey
Champs, Primanti, and Pickles are all covered with televisions that have everything, so you can always watch whatever sport you want to watch and have other options for stuff. Plus they all have pretty expansive menus, so you're going to eat a good meal while watching an AL West game on four different televisions.
Bar Bleu has that one area with comfy couches and five TVs. If you can get there, you're money. I could spend an entire evening watching sports, consuming fishbowls, and eating...well whatever food Bar Bleu has if I'm in that exact spot all day. Local Whiskey doesn't have too many TVs, but they always have good games on and they're usually cool about putting on whatever you'd want to watch.
Do you agree or disagree with these various rankings? Let us know in the comments.