UW-Madison is consistently ranked as one of the top party schools in the nation. And, for good reason (I mean, what else are you going to do in Wisconsin?). From thumping DJ’s to live country-western music, you can find a bar that suits everyone’s style strolling down the iconic State Street.
Because the college bar scene at UW-Madison is so lively, it can be hard to decide where to spend your Friday night. But look no further! Here is your guide to college bars at UW-Madison.
The Kollege Klub
Probably one of the most iconic college bars at UW-Madison, the Kollege Klub (locally known as the KK) is the place to be for a wild night out in Wisconsin. The KK has every feature of classic college bars: dim lighting, a loud DJ and dance floor, mysteriously sticky floors, and of course, cheese curds (only in Wisconsin).
Besides having a pseudo-famous bouncer (Steve!) and best-selling sweatshirts, KK is sure to give you a good time. If you’re going to hit up the KK for a night out, be sure to beat the line, as it can take hours for you to move to the front.
Second to KK, the Double U is another one of the best college bars at UW-Madison located right off of University. From dart boards to basketball hoops, the UU is a classic bar that is a popular spot for college students.
What separates UU from other college bars is its rooftop. In the summer and early fall, UU opens up their rooftop for those looking to enjoy the nice weather (in Wisconsin?) and have a good time. You’ll also want to get here on the earlier side because the line forms pretty fast.
Chaser’s is a high-energy bar that is perfect for young people looking for a lively night out. They play their music way louder than other college bars, so don’t plan on coming here for a night of conversation.
If you go on the right day of the week, they usually offer food and drink specials that are perfect if you’re balling on a budget.
Some of their best deals include $4 jumbo margaritas on Wednesdays, $6 pitchers on Thursdays, and ½ off appetizers on Fridays. Plus, their outdoor patio space is ideal to enjoy a drink while soaking up the fresh air. Or, more likely, the freezing cold Wisconsin weather. Don’t worry, a nice beer jacket will warm you right up.
Monday’s is a loveable Irish college bar located smack-dab in the middle of State Street. Known for their suspiciously strong drinks and grunge atmosphere that makes you want to down them, Monday’s is the best place to go to get the most booze for your buck. Don’t let the grimey floors and dim lighting scare you: sometimes, there’s no better way to spend your night out than getting tipsy with the locals at your favorite dive bar.
At Monday’s, you’re sure to find die-hard Badger fans enjoying the football game, mysterious local ‘Scons crowded around the dartboard, or rowdy college kids taking advantage of the stiff drinks and free popcorn. If you come here on a Monday night, they have a special drink deal of $2 rails and $2 domestic taps. As if you needed any other reason to get drunk.
Whiskey Jack’s is a Wild West-themed college bar located in the heart of State Street. With a poppin’ dance floor and awesome live music, Whiskey’s is a guaranteed wild time. They even have a mechanical bull for their guests to try! If you’ve never seen drunk people try to ride a mechanical bull before, I can assure you it is quality entertainment.
After a couple of tallboys, or a round of $3 Fireball shots, some of your more courageous friends might give the bull a whirl, so have your iPhones ready. And, if you’re a brave soul who’s ready to live out your cowboy fantasy, grab on tight and enjoy the ride. You might want to treat yourself to an extra drink afterward to ease the embarrassment; we can’t all be Billy the Kid. If you’re going to Whiskey Jack’s for the night, try to get there early, as the line can stretch all the way down the street on busy weekends.
Red Rock is a vibrant, country-themed saloon that has a full bar, delicious BBQ menu options, and live country music every weekend. At Red Rock, there’s lots of space to dance around with your friends, so hopefully, you practiced your hoedown. Even if you don’t like country music, Red Rock’s energetic atmosphere and the lively crowd will surely put you in the right mood to get wild and have a good time.
Red Rock offers some pretty cheap weekend drink deals, including $3 Jack Daniels shots and $5 loaded snorkels and White Claws. This bar is often packed with college students on most Fridays and Saturdays, so if you come to Red Rock, be ready to throw on your cowboy boots and get crazy.
Wando’s is a rowdy 3-level college bar that offers the ultimate party vibe. There are DJ’s, dancing, and even free bacon nights! Wando’s was founded in 1994 and located on the side of the famous 602 clubs, which was known as a popular bar for 1960s radicals. While the first two floors of Wando’s seem like your average college bar, the third floor is where things really heat up.
Wando’s is best known for their deadly (I repeat, deadly) fishbowl drink, containing vodka, rum, gin, peach schnapps, and triple sec, which is served in an actual fishbowl! Depending on your choice of color, sloe gin, blue curacao, or orange juice will also be added. Fishbowls are a must-have when you’re going out to Wando’s with the squad (or by yourself, I don’t judge). Just beware of the sugary gut-rot that follows, and prepare yourself for the hangover.
Red Shed has to be mentioned on this list because, frankly, it’s a staple of the UW-Madison college experience. Red Shed is probably the first bar you’ll ever get into, so it will always hold a special place in your heart.
At “the Shed,” you can usually find a random mix of people, ranging from (obviously) underage party kids to old men playing pool in the corner. It’s grungey, grimey, and honestly gross, but there will never be another place like Red Shed.
State Street Brats
State Street Brats is THE place to be on game days at UW. Brats is the ultimate sports bar, and they have the food (and beer) to prove it. Whether you indulge in some famous Wisconsin cheese curds, or order a 2-liter Das Boot of beer, there’s always a good time waiting for you at Brats.
While the first floor is crawling with hardcore ‘Scons and football fans, the second floor of Brats is where the ~party~ happens. With a DJ, dancefloor, and drink deals every night, you get the best of both worlds at Brats.
Which of these UW college bars is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
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Hi! My name is Allison and I'm a senior at UW-Madison majoring in Strategic Communication and Political Science. When I'm not fueling my passion for writing with my coffee addiction, you can find me listening to live music or binge-watching Parks and Rec.