By Joshua Palmes
They are the bars whose reputation is known in all corners of the state. Their popularity results from consistent high quality service or excelling at a particular specialty. Here are five Connecticut bars and clubs that have become an indelible part of the state’s night life.
300 York St.
New Haven, CT 06511
A New Haven fixture for over 40 years, Toad’s Place is Connecticut’s most renowned nightclub. A number of famous rock, jazz, folk and hip-hop acts have performed here, and it has hosted some notable shows. In 1989 the Rolling Stones prepared for their Steel Wheels tour by playing a surprise gig for Toad patrons, while the following year Bob Dylan performed a legendary four-hour set that was covered by Rolling Stone. Today it continues to attract Yale students and city residents who can’t resist affordable drinks and great music.
Eli Cannon’s Tap Room
695 Main St.
Middletown, CT 06457
Eli Cannon’s has become synonymous with craft beer in Connecticut. Eschewing the popular manufacturers, the bar made its name offering a diverse array of quality microbrews. Every day now features a rotating selection of three dozen local, national and imported beers on tap, including a few that are bound to be new even to aficionados. Although the kitchen is tiny, it continues to produce top-notch sandwiches, wraps and burgers. And with its miniature beach area out in back, Eli Cannon’s has become one of the most inviting bars in the state.
J Timothy’s Taverne
143 New Britain Ave.
Plainville, CT 06062
Those seeking the best wings in the state have long known to head for the red, 18th-century house that is now J Timothy’s Taverne. Originally Cooke’s Taverne, J Timothy’s has won both local and national plaudits for their wings. Its claim to fame is originating “dirt wings” twenty years ago – giving them two rounds of deep-frying and saucing to make them crispier and more flavorful. Its Teriyaki and Buffalo sauces have become popular enough to be sold in bottles at select Connecticut supermarkets. J Timothy’s wings are even better paired with one of the several Connecticut-brewed beers on tap.
23 Green St.
New London, CT 06320
The Dutch Tavern opened its doors in 1933, the year Prohibition ended. For over a decade before Prohibition the same location housed the Oak Tavern (in between the building was used to store tire and rubber). Playwright Eugene O’Neill was said to be a tavern regular during both its incarnations, and for the past eight decades countless patrons have joined him in appreciating its charm. Friendly bartenders along with unique offerings like its classic potato salad and cans of Schaefer for under two bucks make the Dutch one of the state’s homiest bars.
84 Union Place
Hartford, CT 06103
Another bar that emerged after the end of Prohibition, the Federal Cafe opened a year after the Dutch Tavern in 1934. That makes it the oldest bar in Hartford. And like the Dutch it has remained timeless due to its simplicity; rather than chasing trends or constant image changes it has focused on providing a consistently welcoming atmosphere for city workers looking to unwind after a long day. No frills, just the basics – TVs showing the latest games, pool table, darts, and reasonably-priced drinks.
Related: Top Oldies Music Bars In Connecticut