The Lowdown on the Local Monmouth Bar Scene

Once a student enters college an important countdown begins. It’s not how long until they graduate; no one wants to think about that. It’s not even how long until the closest break, though that’s always a nice countdown to have in the back of your mind. It’s how long until they turn 21, a birthday that many people have been thinking about since high school.

Being 21 opens a lot of doors for people, and by doors I mean bar doors. Sure, you’ve technically been an adult since 18, but you’re not really an adult until you turn 21. Twenty-one means you can do a lot of what you want, mostly meaning that you can legally drink. Many people have been waiting for years, and let’s be honest here, many people have been doing this for years.

In reality, how many of us can really consider ourselves adults right now? When not at school, I live with my parents, they pay for my bills, and they feed me. I know I could do all of these things myself, but…why? And more importantly, I don’t have enough money to support myself, not too many people I know do. But whatever money I do scrounge up for the week goes to two places: food and the weekend outings to local bars. Sorry Mom and Dad.

Having a birthday five days before the end of August, I am pretty young for my grade. This only affected me twice: once at 16, when all my friends were turning 17 and driving and one at 20, when all my friends were 21 and going out to places I couldn’t get into. Alas, I was stuck at basement parties all of my junior year of college while my friends were going to bars and posting Instagram pictures to prove it. I was very over it by then, (I’m sorry freshman, but you’ll know what I mean in a year or two) and I would usually just stand in a corner and judge the youngsters around me. 

But finally, my time came this past August and I could shine. I was now allowed into the elite club. I now had a horizontal license that I could slap down on a bar and order whatever I wanted. I could now scope out the local bars and realize how quickly a bank account could empty in one night. Though we may live in different small towns around Monmouth and Ocean counties, we aren’t lacking on the local bar scene around Monmouth. There are plenty of places to go within blocks of campus, as well as if you want to venture out to Asbury Park, which is so worth it. 

Living just a few blocks from Asbury Park, it took me little to no time to cross the border and find out what all the hype was about. There were small bars, dive-like bars, club-like bars, something for everyone. If you like the hipster scene, with cool ‘90s music playing and skee-ball being played, I would suggest heading over to Johnny Mac’s House of Spirits, which is a personal favorite (come find me in the outside bar tent, its just as fun as outside and they have a DJ!) Also, for every drink you buy on the inside bar, you get a ticket that gets you a free personal pizza at the end of the night. Is there anything better in this world than free pizza? I know you can’t think of anything, because there is nothing better. 

Stephanie Hamilton, a senior health studies student, also likes the Johnny Mac’s scene. “Johnny Mac’s is my favorite bar around school because it’s so chill, and you get free pizza with every beer, what’s better than that?”

If you like the Johnny Mac’s vibe, you can also check out Brickwall Tavern, which is a few blocks up. It’s full of fewer college students and more real adults, but they also play good music and it’s another casual setting. I hear they also have good food, but I’ve never eaten there, so someone let me know! If you’re more into the dancing, club-like scene, go to Porta, which has different rooms depending on your music taste. 

If you like EDM you can spend your night at the bar in the room with just EDM. If you like old-school rap, you can dance in the room blasting that. They also have very good pizza and everyone should try it. If you like to dance, you can also check out Bank on Mattison, which literally looks like a bank, and plays more old school dance music. These are just a few picks for Asbury Park, there is a bar every couple of blocks, and a ton of cool places to check out.

If you live closer to school and don’t want to pay for a cab that far, there are many options in Long Branch as well. Jack’s Goal Line Stand is a Tuesday hot spot for many University students. Stinger’s Burger Bar is the Thursday night go to for students, where they have a resident DJ every week. Mix Lounge and Food Bar is another spot where people can go to get cool cocktail specials on Monday’s. 

Keri Mullin, a senior accounting student, also appreciates the local bar scene. “I like how they all have an upbeat and young atmosphere, and that they all have their own nights, like Jack’s on Tuesday, Thursday for Stingers, Friday Porta, Saturday Johnny Mac’s.”

“My personal favorite would be Jack’s because they have a great happy hour and their bartenders are very social,” Mullin adds.

No matter what kind of bar scene you are into, you can find it near or around Monmouth, which is surprising for a smaller University. 

I’m just naming a few places that I’ve been to personally, and I suggest all you 21-year-olds check out these places, as well as find some new places of your own! Honestly, you can make any place fun if you have a good group of friends to go with. A few drinks won’t hurt the cause either.