What makes for a great Friday night: Best place to grab a beer, best happy hour, best bar, and best bartender

DUSTIN VANDEHOEF | Evergreen reporter

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Best Place to Grab a Beer:

In a town like Pullman, knowing the best places to grab a beer with friends is fundamental to the college experience.

The coveted first place went to Pullman’s 80-year-old bar, The Coug.

“It’s an intimate, fun place, and you get to know our bartenders really well,” Manager Lauren Fortin said.

The Coug rotates available beers frequently and offers a great chance for students to try a variety of unique blends they may never have had before, Fortin said.

Second place went to Rico’s Public House on East Main Street.

With 22 different beers on tap and a laid-back atmosphere that allows for community members to study, play darts and more, Rico’s offers something for everyone, Owner Tawny Szumlas said.

Coming in third was My Office, a bar located in downtown Pullman and owned by Jeff Packer.

My Office has one of the largest selections of beer in Pullman, with 29 handles of beer for people to choose from, Packer said. The bar also offers a rotating selection of drinks on tap, meaning there’s always something new to try.

Best Happy Hour:

No one knows the value of a good deal better than college students.

The top spot went to Valhalla, a bar owned by Jeff Packer.

Running from 4 – 7 p.m. every day, Valhalla’s happy hour offers low-priced drinks and high quality chicken wings, with 13 different sauces to choose from, Packer said.

A few buildings down from Valhalla you find The Coug, a bar whose happy hour came in second place.

“Awesome Hour,” which runs from 8 – 9 p.m. every night of the week, is a fantastic chance for students to try a wide variety of unique beers for only $2 a pint, Manager Lauren Fortin said.

South Fork and My Office tied for third.

South Fork’s happy hour, every day from 2 – 5 p.m., draws in everyone from students to professors, Assistant Manager Shanna Taylor said. The restaurant offers deals like $3 well drinks and $3 off appetizers.

Meanwhile, the happy hour at My Office runs Monday through Friday, 3 – 6 p.m.

My Office’s happy hour hosts one of the best wing menus in Pullman with a variety of special sauces to drown them in, Owner Jeff Packer said.

Best Bars:

When the weekend rolls around and students need a place to unwind, these are the bars they head to.

The title of best bar in Pullman goes to Rico’s Public House.

Tawny Szumlas, the owner and a WSU graduate, attributes the bar’s popularity to the variety of activities offered, including open mic nights, trivia contests and live music performed by WSU students and faculty.

“We always got things that are going on,” she said. “You don’t just come in and watch TV.”

In second place was My Office, located downtown on Grand Avenue.

My Office draws in everyone from 21-year-olds to 90-year-olds, Owner Jeff Packer said. The bar serves food until midnight every day of the week, meaning that patrons can get their late-night snack fix.

Further from downtown but closer to campus, The Coug came in third place.

“We’re really big into the history and community of WSU,” Manager Lauren Fortin said.

The Coug is a great place to join everyone on game days and is a fun place to spend a weekend night, she said.

Best Bartender:

Chances are, students who have been to My Office have been served by bartender Corey Leisy, the winner of Best Bartender in Pullman.

Rarely seen without a toothpick in his mouth, Leisy has been working at My Office for more than six years now, and will likely be there for many more.

“Bartending is the best job in the world,” he said. “Every day is a new experience and has its surprises.”

When he’s not at My Office, Leisy said he helps other bartenders perfect their craft by teaching them how to pour better drinks while doing everything else the position demands.

Roxanne Trocino, a longtime friend of Leisy’s, attended some of his classes when she first began bartending at Valhalla’s and said Leisy makes an art of it.

Leisy delved into the history of the alcohol they were working with, how well it mixed with others, and gave people time at the end to experiment with recipes of their own, Trocino said.

“Bartending is more than just mixing drinks,” Leisy said.

The best bartenders act as armchair therapists to patrons of the bar, able to actively listen to people’s stories of losses and victories, while simultaneously pouring shots and taking in new drink orders, he said.

Leisy sticks true to his mantra, Trocino said. He creates that timeless bar scene aesthetic of spinning bottles, good drinks, and witty conversations. Like all great bartenders, Leisy is skilled at finding the perfect drink for whatever customer walks in, Trocino said.

Next time, try ordering a French 75 from Leisy, which he said, “is the best drink ever made.”

“Every great drink has a great story behind it,” he said.

Leisy thinks the same of the people he serves.