Bottoms Up: Being bookish in the bar

We met promptly at 7 p.m. on Thursday evening in front of Hops and Vines. As we walked into the restaurant with our backpacks on, we confessed to each other, “I’m excited, but also nervous.” We wondered what the waitress and other patrons would think. Would we be asked to put our books away? Would we be mocked for being total nerds?

This was the beginning of a night on the town. We were going bar hopping, but more importantly – considering it was the middle of midterms week – we were studying. Our idea started off as a joke. Because there were no Stressbusters during the week of reading period, we found ourselves without a place to destress after a charged TA session on Wednesday. The library was too serious, full of focused students. We wanted to get off campus, but Tunnel City was closed. What was left? Bars!

That night we each decided our best de-stresser was sleep, but the next day we wanted to try something new. We started at Hops and Vines, ordering tacos and cosmos. The restaurant was crowded with groups of students and community members enjoying delicious $1 tacos. After we ordered, we took out our reading. Molly delved into Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, while Eirann went for her Jewish America course packet. We were sitting at a long table with place settings, so it was hard to make space for our books. The restaurant was noisy with people talking, laughing and otherwise enjoying their social Thursday night. When the waitress came back with our drinks she remarked, “More power to you to focusing in here.” We felt welcomed. Maybe we shouldn’t have been nervous after all.

Hops and Vines would appeal to a study type who likes to have a constant buzz of noise and people around and does not care about looking and feeling slightly out of place – it’s like taking your homework to Mission. Our cosmos were tasty and, at $3, a bargain. Eirann gave it a grade of B overall, because she enjoyed the food, drinks and atmosphere, but did not find it conducive to studying. Molly gave it a grade of A- overall, having been able to make it through a whole short story while sipping and savoring.

Because Molly needed to be at a club meeting at 9 p.m., we quickly moved on to the Purple Pub. Before the host even approached us, we saw our friends, Natalee Dawson ’15 and Laura Berman ’15, who invited us to join their table. At Sawyer you may stop briefly to exchange a word with a friend on the way to your carell, but you’d never slide into theirs for a mid-study chat. At the bar, it is hard to decline such an offer. We decided to sit with them, but remained devoted to our studying goals. Molly ordered a Berkshire Brewing Company Steel Rail EPA, Eirann got an Angry Orchard cider, and we both took out our laptops for work on an ecology lab write-up, forming a a computer blockade on the table.

We would both recommend the Purple Pub for any work involving collaboration. It reminded us of Schow Atrium or Lee Snack Bar. The pub atmosphere fostered a sense of camaraderie, as you clink glasses with friends and cheer on teams on the TVs. Eirann gave the Pub an A-. The cider was slightly too sweet for her taste, but she enjoyed the ambience and was productive with her work. Molly gave it a B+ as she had a harder time concentrating with friends around and spilled a little beer on her problem set.

At this point we needed to make moves to our final destination. We were pleased that the Red Herring was such a short distance from the Pub. We walked into the Herring to find that we were the only ones there and chose to sit at the bar rather than a small side table. We had a nice chat with the bartender, took out reading once again, and ordered tequila shots (we would like to emphasize our time crunch – Williams students are busy). The dim lighting was reminiscent of the Paresky quiet room and less than ideal for reading small print. Eirann gave the Herring an A. She only read two paragraphs there, but would return because it was quiet, comfortable and welcoming. Molly would also give it an A. It was the third stop of the night, and she only read three paragraphs (one of which was a dramatic out-loud reading), but she felt it had a lot of potential.

It is, contrary to what you might expect, possible to have a productive night out. Not only were we able to get work done, but we also had fun doing it. If you’re looking for us during reading period in December, check the Herring.