Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
This week’s topic: Ohio State’s best bar, past or present
Josh’s Take: Four Kegs
Ambiance? Check. Location? Check. Hilariously large pitchers of fluorescent-colored rubbing alcohol? Check. And that’s about all I needed to enjoy a night out when I went to Ohio State. Four Kegs at 15th and High will forever go down in OSU history as one of the best campus bars. For my money (which they took a lot of), it was the absolute best.
I said “was”, because the university has continued to make a concerted effort to turn campus, and especially High Street, into a corporate mess. I might be aging myself, but High St. is no longer the fun college atmosphere I remember. Cool retail and residential additions, though — hopefully you can sense my sarcasm through the text. Bulldozing the core of one of the best campuses in America and hiking tuition (and the cost of tickets) is not the route I would have gone, but that is not the point here.
I guess I am absolutely aging myself by arguing for Four Kegs here, but the legend deserves proper respect and recognition. Four Kegs is so old that it was re-branded or bought out and turned into an entirely different bar (O Patio) for about a decade, before being converted into some ridiculous high-rise that currently sits in its old location.
Strategically placed at the corner of 15th Ave and High St., it was centrally located and accessible to all students — and staff — and High St.’s finest panhandlers. The large patio area had plenty of seating, but better than the seating itself, the opportunity to sit outside and have a beverage while watching all the comings and goings of central campus. When heading north-to-south or vice versa, it was super common to run into a friend, roommate, or some rando from your Intro to Shakespeare class. If you were on your way to class, you got super jealous. If you were on your way home, it was nearly impossible to not stop by and have a drink on the patio.
The inside of Four Kegs was split level, with a few pool tables on each floor and plenty of room to “take a lap”. Sure, the actual bar area(s) to order a drink was way too small, but what better way to meet a stranger and make a friend? There was also a 2nd floor patio, but I remember being at least 10 percent concerned that it was not the most structurally sound. I never spent a ton of time inside, because the draw of Four Kegs was the outside atmosphere... and the cheap drinks… and their 18-and-over policy — I guess there were many draws.
The bar was famous for its eclectic cocktail, affectionately known as Liquid Dope. I don’t have the recipe written down, but I could confidently narrow it down to this: three, or four, or eight bottom-shelf liquors, orange juice, grenadine, and many skipped 9am lectures. Although the specifics escape me, there was a Liquid Dope Night during the week. Large pitchers of the delicious concoction were priced dangerously low, and everyone at your table would get one of their own. There was virtually no taste of alcohol in this orangish, pinkish drink, so you just thought you were drinking fruit juice or Kool-aid. Decisions were made as a result, not all good.
Sunday night was Mug Night, and if I remember correctly, you bought a 32-ounce mug for three or four dollars, and refills were only a buck. In hindsight: what the hell were we thinking!? There is probably a reason I celebrated my 21st at Four Kegs, only to be taken home before dinner time. My friends had a great time without me, and that’s what the bar was all about.
Four Kegs was so popular and so big, that they also had a ton of promotional events. MTV personalities showed up, beer and liquor companies handed out all sorts of swag, you name it. There was always something going on. Because of the bar’s policy, I started attending these nights and events at 18 years old. It was the first bar I legally went to (sorry, mom and dad). And honestly, it was the first bar I illegally consumed alcohol at. Maybe that’s why it will always hold a special place in my heart.
I can’t close this out without mentioning how fun of a gameday atmosphere Four Kegs was. There was a ton of space to gather, and they occasionally had cornhole boards out on the patio. TVs were plentiful, all dialed in to the Buckeye game. A visitor from Kent State, looking for your Golden Flashes? Get outta here, wrong bar. You could hear “O-H” being yelled throughout the joint, and there were always dozens willing to reply — you know the drill, yell it! Four Kegs brought the entire Ohio State campus together, threw cheap drinks at our faces, and always repped the Buckeyes.
That’s why it will always be the best campus bar. RIP.
Gene’s Take: Out-R-Inn
Now, before I begin my take, I have to say that I attended Ohio State after Josh, and so I only knew Four Kegs as its successor — O Patio and Pub. That being said, my last year on campus in 2018 was the last year of that bar’s existence before it was knocked down to build a Target and more off-campus housing, and boy what a year it was.
I have to echo all of Josh’s sentiments, because that bar was simply fantastic. The outdoor patio with a fire pit and plenty of seating was fantastic when it wasn’t freezing outside, and even the indoor spaces when not packed to the gills were nice as well. The bar also had it’s own pizzeria located right inside! During my time, the special at The O was Beat the Clock. If you are unfamiliar, BTC occurred every Friday afternoon, and everyone that attended wore their favorite throwback sports jersey to partake in the pitcher special. During BTC, a full pitcher of beer ran you $2 at 2:00 p.m., $3 at 3:00 p.m., and so on until about 7:00 p.m.. You could also get a pitcher of Josh’s aforementioned Liquid Dope for I believe $7.
While The O was certainly one of my favorite bars on High St., the bar that really stole my heart later in my Ohio State tenure was Out-R-Inn.
One of the great things about Out-R-Inn is that it can connect generations of Ohio State alum as it has stood the test of time. Located just off the corner of High St. and Frambes, the staple has been around since the 60s. As a resident of East Lane during my junior and sophomore years, it was a frequent watering hole of my friends and I, and featured all of the aspects of a bar that, in my opinion, make for a great environment.
As the name would suggest, the bar features both indoor and outdoor spaces. The main bar inside is met closely by a pair of pool tables and a couple of benches and tables to take a load off, while the outdoor area features a handful of picnic benches, a corn hole set up, a large open area for people to mingle, and a second bar! Heading back inside, there was also an upstairs section, complete with another pool table and more seating as a bit more of a quieter location to chat with friends. Another nice little perk of Out-R-Inn is that it has multiple bathrooms — one upstairs and one just off the outdoor section — so you rarely had to wait in line.
As far as specials go, this was the place to be on Thursdays and Sundays (if memory serves correct, it’s been a little while). Two days of the week, Out-R-Inn offers Mug Night, where you purchase a pretty cool Out-R-Inn branded mug, coming in multiple colors and certainly re-usable as I still own a few, and then beer refills the rest of the night using the mug are dirt cheap — I want to say $1 or so but I can’t recall. In addition, Out-R-Inn offers $1.50 double wells on those same nights. For $3 you are double-fisting a pair of double whiskey and cokes or vodka sodas and life is good.
Of course, one of my favorite aspects of the Ohio State bar scene was the variety. The landscape has changed drastically in the few years since I was a student in Columbus, but the ability to hop from a sports bar to a full-on club to a relaxed setting all in a matter of minutes is unmatched. As you can tell by my two favorites in The O and Out-R-Inn, I was always more of a relaxed bar guy, but there was always a time and place to hit up Midway or Chumley’s for a different atmosphere entirely. I was also a huge fan of Ethyl & Tank, located just behind Midway, as well as Pins Mechanical Co. in downtown C-Bus. Wherever you choose to go out, you likely can’t go wrong. Please drink responsibly.
RIP Four Kegs/The O Patio and Pub, and long live Out-R-Inn.