I’ve been at St Andrews for a year now, and have therefore experienced everything from a chill evening playing cards at the pub to a lively night (and morning) hopping from place to place. To make your life easier, here’s a rundown of everywhere that’s anywhere in St Andrews.
To start off, the Union is the closest you’ll get to a big city partying. With the exception of Freshers’ Week, the club’s busiest evenings are typically Sinners, (sports night hosted on the first Wednesday night of every month) where you are guaranteed to bump into friends from across the board. Whilst 601 is, unfortunately, temporarily closed, the Main Bar is a go-to for all students, offering the cheapest drinks in town. The bar’s main attraction? Thursday Jazz Nights. The perfect evening for a casual drink and some fun music.
For a similar high-energy night out, the Vic is one of the most popular venues for events like Throwbacks, DTF, HAUS, etc. While there’s plenty of space for dancing, its smaller size creates a more intimate, fun atmosphere that larger spaces like 601 lack. The biggest downside to attending events at the Vic however is the ever-present line stretching out the front door. The Vic is also infamous for holding unchecked coats and simultaneously running out of coat check space, so, either get there early or be ready to walk home without a coat. As far as events go, the Vic is probably one of the best venues, promising a fun night out — even in the middle of finals!
The Rule tends to host similar events to the Vic, however, it’s set up more like a sports bar, with lots of booths and a catwalk-like loft, meaning that it can, and does, get very crowded. Despite the frequent overselling of tickets by event organisers, somehow, there is rarely a line. However, the biggest advantage of the Rule is their location, ideally situated across the street from St Andrews Shawarma and just a few doors down from the church’s 50p cheese toasties.
What St Andrews lacks in nightclubs, it makes up for in pubs. Most significant, to students at least, is Molly Malones, fondly known as Molly’s. Located between the Union and the Vic and just a short trip from nearly anywhere in town (even DRA), you’re sure to encounter several familiar faces every time you step in (or walk past, depending on how long the queue is). Although this popularity can create a challenge when it comes to finding a table, at the end of the day you’ll probably end up walking back and forth from the bathroom to the bar to your friend’s table anyways. Molly’s also frequently plays live music, and, one of my highlights of the year, was the crowds that amassed to watch the World Cup. Whether you just want some friendly faces or a quick drink before heading out, Molly’s is the social hub of town.
Aikman’s holds a close second to Molly’s when it comes to the most popular student pub in town. Although small, it’s always full of students. The top floor often has live music playing, while downstairs is usually darker with ‘house party’ vibes. The best part of Aikman’s, however, is that both floors have a full bar, minimising the amount of time you have to spend standing in front of a counter trying desperately to get the bartender’s attention.
The Dunvegan, also known as Dunny, is one of the most expensive establishments in town. That being said, it’s always packed to the brim with a combination of golfers and students looking to take the edge off. For those living in Macintosh Hall or ABH, Dunny is barely more than a hop, skip, and a jump away. However, beyond the cosy atmosphere and walls covered in picture frames of golf legends, the highlight of the Dunny is its food. The nachos, in particular, are to die for, but the chicken Caesar wrap is also fantastic. Their food options make it a great place for a late lunch or early dinner, as well as to take visiting parents.
The Central is a personal favourite when it comes to pubs. It’s ideally located on Market Street, especially for those living in Sallies or coming straight from the library, and it’s always busy but never too crowded. Anyone walking down Market Street is sure to see students sitting outdoors with laptops open and a drink in hand all months of the year, and upon stepping inside will be welcomed by a circular bar and tables full of people enjoying card games or plates of food.
St Andrews’ Brewing Company (affectionately known as Brew Co). is a local favourite for socials and society meetings. It offers lots of space with several rooms upstairs in addition to its central pub downstairs as well as what can best be described as an outdoor patio. Once the weather warms up, it’s packed all day long with students, locals, and golfers enjoying a pint and some sun or, even better, one of their delicious flatbread pizzas.
One Under Bar, located underneath the Rusacks Hotel, is a cosy, intimate venue. It gives the Dunny a run for its money when it comes to the most expensive drinks in town, but is also not exactly meant for a wild night out. Their big booths, lowkey crowd, and rustic design style make it a great place to hunker down for an afternoon study session or to go and grab a drink with a friend. Even better, they recently started hosting pub quizzes, which offer a more intellectual and creative way of going out while still having a very good time.
Whey Pat is undoubtedly worth it for a fun night with friends. It’s located just past the archway on South Street or around the corner from Mollys, yet despite its unassuming façade, inside there is a quieter, cosy atmosphere with plaid chairs and bright lighting that’s perfect for a card game or in-depth discussion. Better yet, their prices cannot be beaten. The entire cocktail list is under £6.
With a newly established sense of where to go for what, I wish everyone the best of luck with the many events of Fresher’s Week and with the new academic year!
Illustration: Calum Mayor