Ah, Out-R-Inn. The rightful heir to the ever-changing game of thrones that is Ohio State’s bar scene. This beloved dive bar is a foundational facet of the culture that connects so many students to one another –– and by culture, I mean everyone’s love for a reasonably priced beer in a pleasantly grubby environment.
One of my favorite things about Out-R-Inn is how it tricks me into thinking getting drunk on Sunday and Monday nights is not only normal, but also encouraged behavior with its iconic Mug Night deal. With your one-time purchase of a plastic mug emblazoned with the Out-R-Inn logo for only $2, you get $1.75 refills of Miller Light and Coors Light, or $2.25 refills of Blue Moon, Summer Shandy, or Redd’s Apple Ale. Mind you, these mugs hold about 20 ounces of beer, so if you roll up to Out-R-Inn with a mug and a five dollar bill in hand, plan on leaving moderately tipsy.
Mug Night is certainly a big draw, but it isn’t the only deal that keeps people coming back to Out-R-Inn. Its daily happy hour is $1.50 wells and $1.50 domestic bottles until 8 p.m., with deals on different shots every day of the week. Perhaps most importantly, the bar offers its infamous Thursday night special: $1.50 double wells. Buckle up for that one, folks. A Thursday night spent at Out-R-Inn always makes it hard for me to get to my 9:10 a.m. class on Friday.
Out-R-Inn has a great bar with good deals, but what really sets it apart from other campus bars is its atmosphere. I brought my dad to Out-R-Inn last year on a gray, wintry Saturday afternoon, and he eloquently summed it up upon entering: “I feel like I’m in a coal mine.” True! But, like, a fun coal mine that sells alcohol.
Out-R-Inn is covered from head to toe in Sharpie’d scribbles from people who are probably grown up and married with children and have mortgages right now. To me, that’s the appeal –– alumni can return to a practically unchanged bar to relive their collegiate drinking glory days, and current students get to hang out in an authentic bar that’s been around since our parents were college students.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that one of the most important elements of Out-R-Inn’s authenticity to itself and to its clientele is that it is the only bar on campus that actually ensures its patrons are 21 years old. I resented this reality before I turned 21, but I’ve grown to respect it now that I’m going to be an elderly 23-year-old, fifth-year student. If I want to hang out with a bunch of freshmen that are just learning how to drink, I’ll buy a Juul vape pen and go to Midway.
To Out-R-Inn’s credit, it’s just as great of a hangout in the winter as it is in the summer, which can be a hard balance to strike for bars that have to deal with Ohio’s nine-month winter. It has a big outdoor patio that’s open in the summer with another bar, two cornhole sets, picnic tables and televisions. And in the winter, there’s still plenty of room inside to play pool and darts. In the winter for significant sports games, the bar will pull out the space heaters and open the back patio for extra seating. I hate feeling crowded or like I don’t have a place to sit or stand inside of a bar, and I almost never feel that way at Out-R-Inn because there’s so much room for everyone to spread out.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful things about Out-R-Inn is its perfect adjacency to the most amazing by-the-slice pizza place that still stands on Ohio State’s campus: Sicilia Fine Italian Specialties. At $3 for a slice of pizza the size of my face, it truly cannot be beat –– and if you’re really feeling the munchies after a few beers, Sicilia’s mac and cheese bites are magnificent. Since the buildings are connected and share a patio, you can wander freely back and forth with your pizza and beer, making Out-R-Inn a sliver of heaven only found at Ohio State.