Trinity College

The Tap Café
March 2005
by Marc B. Zawel

The only nightspot within stumbling distance of Hartford, Connecticut’s Trinity College is the Tap Café, a nondescript, drink-slinging shack that regulars simply call the Tap. A boisterous crowd of students and locals pours in nightly to enjoy the creature comforts — watching college sports on the big screen, playing darts, taking shots from the ice luge or downing stiff, no-frills drinks served in plastic cups. Though the bar has gone through a few facelifts since the ’70s, its most important feature endures. “It’s the only bar we can walk to from campus,” says Mike, a junior psychology major. “Which is kind of important after a big night of boozing.”

The Scene: While you can find a mixed crowd of Trinity coeds and locals mingling at the bar, it’s usually a student haven after nightfall. “There’s an on/off switch,” says Patrick Howe, the Tap’s owner. “During the day it’s mostly the locals; at night it’s mostly the college kids.” But the locals who do stick around after the sun goes down are in for a treat. Throngs of thirsty — and, in many cases, downright beautiful — students hit the Tap early and hit it hard, especially on Tuesdays, when the bar offers penny pitchers for the first 90 minutes of the night. “It gets pretty crazy in here, but not in the rowdy sense,” Howe says.

Girls at the Bar: The general consensus among men at the Tap is that the world doesn’t look any better with beer goggles on — the groups of girls that flock here are always gorgeous. “How to describe Trinity girls in one word?” muses Charlie, a senior anthropology major. After some scholarly reflection, his response is profound: “Hot.”

When to Go: Regulars say the big nights are Tuesdays and Thursdays, which coincide with irresistible drink specials. But you can find a near-capacity crowd most nights of the week. In early March, the Tap throws its annual beach bash, when the floors are filled with sand, Coronas are two bucks and girls strip down to bikinis.

Dress Code: For guys, the preppy look rules. Think jeans and a button-down or, before the cold kicks in, cargo shorts, collared shirts and flip-flops. Girls tend to wear shorter skirts or jeans and halter-tops.

At the Bar: Stick with the basics and order pitchers or the potent mixed drinks. Besides offering penny pitchers Tuesday nights, the Tap has $1 drafts on Thursday and karaoke drink specials on Sunday nights.

Open: Monday thru Thursday, 3 p.m. – 1 a.m.; Friday, 3 p.m. – 2 a.m.; Saturday, 7 p.m. – 2 a.m.; Sunday, 7 p.m. – 1 a.m. Weekend afternoon hours extended during football season.

Where It’s At: 217 New Britain Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut

Phone: (860) 525-6110

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