When you absolutely have to get wild and weird, here’s where you’re gonna go.
There are certain bars, that through some bizarre combination of science and sorcery, bring out the weirdest parts of us. We’re immediately transformed into some backward hat wearing, werewolf-party-god, that cannot be tamed or told not to take off random articles of clothing.
We’re never quite sure what it is about them that gets us in a blackout mood (we’re quite certain it’s the criminally underpriced drinks, but hey), all we know is that when we’re there we’re definitely not going to remember how we left. Also, there’s a good chance that the police will be involved and that you’re totally going to run into your ex just when you lost the ability to speak full sentences.
But there’s something about these places that keeps drawing us back, that keeps us returning time and time again (it’s probably your best friend Becky, god you love her but the woman tracks down trouble like it’s a buy one get one taco special). So here’s to all the bars that provide those weird, fun nights, even when we didn’t know we wanted it. We put together a list of the best places in Columbus to get weird and wasted. Fair warning, travel at your own risk.
No list of this ilk worth its salt would be complete without listing the Ruckmoor. This booze hall has a long and terrifying history of getting patrons to make terrible decisions and they’ve worked it into an exact science. You still can’t pay with a card but you can buy cans of beer for a dollar (ONE DOLLAR) and blackout on less than 20 bucks. Come for the cheap drinks, stay for ring-on-a-string. An actual game in which you toss a ring on a string at a hook on the wall. Yeah. This place get’s weird.
Where: 7496 High St, Columbus, OH 43235
Skully’s, or as I like to call it, the graveyard of broken high heels and shattered dreams, has turned making you into a hot mess into a martial art style. Sure, their 90s dance parties sound like an awesome idea, maybe get down with a drink or two and let loose. But after an hour of dancing and exactly seven cocktails that you’ve reduced to calling “fancy blue thingies”, you’re going to have no idea where you left your purse or your pride. Chin up, it’s happened to the best of us. Besides, “Tell It To My Heart” by Taylor Dane just came on and ohmygawd this is your sooooong!
Where: 1151 N High St, Columbus, OH 43201
Speaking of tragic mess dance parties, Axis is practically a juggernaut in the field of getting you to embarrass yourself on the dance floor. Dropping your drink while dancing is almost a certainty. Which is totally cool because everyone around you will be doing the same. By the end of the night, everyone is practically wading through a sea of spilled cosmos and struggle dancing to some nameless electronic song. And don’t pretend you don’t know what struggle dancing is, we’ve all found ourselves gyrating and dancing while sleepy and tired and way too drunk to function. It mostly happens out of a fear that if we stop moving we’ll literally collapse unconscious right then and there.
Where: 775 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215
There’s something to be said for a cozy little hole in the wall with bomb shots for $2.50, and that something is “dear God, mistakes will be made this night”. Unlike other bars on the list, Brew-Stirs is a comforting, inviting drinking hole. And that’s where they get you. You’re lured in under a false sense of comfort, content to sip your beer and enjoy some company and then— BOOM. Suddenly you notice the sign for $2.50 bomb shots and all hell breaks loose. Now your “taking it easy Wednesday” has turned into a “taking an Uber home day”. And trust me, coming back to get your stupid car in the morning is going to suck so bad.
Where: 3028 N High St, Columbus, OH 43202
If you could make Kernkraft 400 by Zombie Nation into an actual bar, you would have Callahan’s. It’s the type of place you want to go when you want to exorcise your bro side while still remaining comfortably and decidedly un-broey. With two dance floors, one inside and one on the outside patio, you have twice the chances of making a tragic mess out of yourself. While it’s definitely not the bro-iest bar on Park Street, it isn’t for lack of trying. Besides, you know you wanna grab your bros and bro out to some party rock and Pitbull. Redbull and Budweisers all around!
Where: 520 Park St, Columbus, OH 43215
Probably the best part about Zeno’s is their daily drink specials. I’m talking $1 off crafts on Mondays, $2 tallboy beers on Tuesday, half off wine on Wednesdays, $7 pitchers on Thursday, half off bottles of wine on Friday, $3 20 oz cans and $5 Bloody Mary’s on Saturdays, and $1 High Life grenades on Sundays. I don’t even know what a High Life grenade is but I’m pretty psyched about it for that price. Their kitchen is usually open pretty late too so you can soak up some of that irresponsible drinking with a pizza or some hot wings.
Where: 384 W 3rd Ave, Columbus, OH 43201
For some reason, you only go to Alumni Club after you’ve already been to two other bars and you’re about to wrap up the night by attempting to play darts and yelling way too loud to talk to your friend who’s literally right next to you. It’s really not all Alumni’s fault, it’s just that the universe is determined to destroy your liver and you can’t make great life decisions. But either way, Alumni Club very rarely kicks you out even though you should have probably gone home four (very humbling) shots ago. The bartenders here are saints. Or possibly nihilistic demons, it’s really a coin flip.
Where: 395 Stoneridge Ln, Gahanna, OH 43230
This neighborhood bar and grill in German Village has been kicking since the ’50s and getting Columbus residents toasted the entire time. You can find all walks of life in Club 185, from cops and judges to hippies and hipsters, and they’re all knocking back drinks like the world is ending tomorrow. Trust me, if you end up at this joint, you will wake up the next day with a bunch of photos from the photo booth that you don’t remember taking.
Where: 185 E Livingston Ave, Columbus, OH 43215
Perhaps it’s the vicinity to about a half a dozen other bars in the area but the only way I’ve ever seen anyone enter or leave Ledo’s is by stumbling, usually followed by uncontrollable laughter. They’ve got a huge bar with cheap enough drinks and enough pool and darts to keep you distracted for hours. But the cherry on top is the adjacent Mikey’s Late Night Slice. Trust me, after three rounds of pool and an infinite amount of PBR, that Pizza Dawg is going to save your life.
Where: 2608 N High St, Columbus, OH 43202
If you can’t get weird at a burlesque bar then you haven’t got a weird bone in your body and that’s an awful way to go through life. Bossy Girl is known for its steamy burlesque and scintillating poetry and comedy nights. The people watching is great, you definitely get all types, but there’s something about this place that inspires debauchery and weirdness in yourself as well. It’s an all-around enjoyable experience and the best time you probably won’t remember.
Where: 2598 N High St, Columbus, OH 43202
This is truly a graveyard of broken dreams and shattered livers. I’ve seen complete and utter tragedies go down at 4th street and I’ve loved every minute of it. Pro-tip: definitely don’t order the Dark Knight shot here. I have no idea what’s in it and I’ve never heard of it elsewhere, all I know is what it feels like waking up the next day. It makes a root canal feel like an afternoon of watching The Golden Girls with your Aunt Ruth. She’s a sweet old gal who always has ginger snaps and a witty remark. Dark Knights are not that charming.
Where: 1810 N 4th St, Columbus, OH 43201