I spent the last two weeks drinking nearly every night, for strictly journalistic purposes.
I found that on any given night, there’s at least one bar in Eugene with something special happening, whether it’s funk jams, cheap drinks, food deals or bagpipe concerts.
Many gin and tonics, whiskey sours and a few hungover mornings later, here’s a list of where I think you should drink to celebrate friends, lovers, births, deaths, marriages and divorces any night of the week in Eugene.
Start your week of drinking with some of the best cocktails in Eugene at Izakaya Meiji Company. On Mondays, happy hour runs from 5 to 11 pm.
Off the happy hour menu, order the bourbon ginger or the Meiji mule. The bourbon gingers are the perfect balance of biting ginger, lime juice and smoky bourbon. The Meiji mules are made with vodka, shochu, black pepper syrup and ginger. They’re spicy and refreshing and my go-to at Meiji.
If you’re hungry, order the tatsutaage — fried chicken thigh. Or get the red snapper karaage — fried fish served with a tangy ponzu-lime sauce. The hamburgers, served on English muffins, are also really good.
On Tuesdays, go to Highlands Brewpub, a sports bar in the parking lot of Safeway on 40th Avenue in south Eugene. Highlands has cheap food and drink deals every night of the week. On Tuesday, it’s $1 hard tacos and $2.50 Coronas.
With screens hanging above every wall, it’s a good bar to watch sports.
Highlands is also one of the best pool bars in Eugene. There are four pool tables with plenty of space around them. Plus, there’s a Ping-Pong table.
But what sets Highlands apart are the bartenders—they’ll remember you and greet you like an old friend after just a couple of Tuesdays.
Groove Sessions at Luckey’s Club downtown is where it’s at Wednesday nights. If you’re a musician, you can bring your instrument to jam to funk songs with the house rhythm section. You just sign up on a list and get called up to the stage.
Otherwise, you can sit at a table near the stage and watch the musicians. Or you can mill around the pool tables and listen to the music while you knock around some balls.
There’s a $3 cover to get into the bar, but seeing the jam is worth it.
At Drink Wheel at Agate Alley Bistro on Thursdays, a giant wheel with dozens of drink choices is spun every half hour. The chosen drink costs $2 cash for the following half hour.
Agate Alley is a bar, but it’s also a brunch spot. It maintains the mellowness of a lazy Sunday morning, even when it’s packed with wasted college kids. There are fireplaces outside where they can pause their drinking for a cigarette — or more likely, some rips from a Juul or Puff Bar. It’s a nice vibe.
But if you’re over 25 and your frontal cortex is fully developed, you’ll feel out of place at Drink Wheel.
Another good option for Thursdays is The Cannery on 11th Avenue near campus. Like Drink Wheel, it offers $2 well drinks. But here, you can choose what you drink, and avoid puking a mix of vodka sodas, rum and cokes, black Russians and Pacificos into a toilet bowl at the end of the night.
The Cannery also makes an amazing parmesan-encrusted Reuben sandwich, which comes with a side of the house-made pickles — tangy cauliflower, onions and green beans that pair perfectly with a beer or gin and tonic.
I like spending drunken Friday nights downtown.
Jameson’s is a good place to get warmed up. There’s plenty of booths to sit in and a few comfy couches to sink into. There’s a couple of pool tables, too, and an outdoor area with tables and chairs.
The hanging colored lanterns fill the lounge with a gentle glow and the speakers bump smooth throwback hip-hop hits.
After Jameson’s I go to Sizzle Pie, which has a great whiskey sour. The bar makes its sour mix from scratch, and you can get it made the traditional way with an egg white if you ask. It’s the best whiskey sour I’ve had in Eugene.
Sizzle Pie is the final stage of most drunken nights in Eugene. In a town that’s plagued with terrible late-night food, Sizzle Pie serves good pizza until 4 am on Friday and Saturday nights.
My favorite slice is the Ol’ Dirty, a slice topped with salami, ricotta and pepperoncinis. The spicy, tangy pepperoncinis balance out the creaminess of the ricotta perfectly.
On Saturdays I go out on campus. I went to South Eugene High School, and I study at the University of Oregon now. So this is my opportunity to greet old friends, to nod awkwardly to old acquaintances and ex-girlfriends and to see my classmates behaving outside of the normal bounds of school-appropriate behavior.
Rennie’s Landing is the best spot to start out. There are two pool tables and nice outdoor areas with fireplaces. Unlike some other campus bars, Rennie’s Landing is somewhere you can talk. It won’t be so loud that you have to yell to be heard, and you’ll leave without your ears ringing.
Now that Taylor’s is shut down (thank god) Max’s Tavern is probably the best spot to spend the rest of your Saturday night. It gets super packed inside of the bar, and it’s sometimes nearly impossible to get a drink. But the outside patio area is a good place to wind down for the night.
On Sundays, head to the Pint Pot. It’s a small Irish pub that looks the exact same as those many establishments in Dublin where old men spend cloudy winter months downing pint after pint of Guinness.
There’s a semi-circular bar, the dark wood worn by years of pints dragged across the surface. There are cozy armchairs, and a framed plaid kilt over the heavy wooden door.
A mighty bottle selection adorns the wall behind the bar — mainly scotch, bourbon, Irish and American whiskey.
Pint Pot serves traditional Irish grub like bangers and mash, pork sausage and colcannon, Irish mashed potatoes. The meat and potatoes are perfect for soaking up a glass of Irish whiskey.
On some nights, a man plays the bagpipes in the bar. The small space fills with the instrument’s lonesome wail, and everybody shuts up. No matter how drunk you are, the somber sound of a bagpipe makes you feel suddenly sober, as if somebody had just dumped a bucket of ice water on your head.
The bagpipe man gives you time to reflect on your disgusting week of drinking, and the clarity to vow never to do it again.