In loving memory of Ghetto Chopper
“Heaven has gained a place to buy limes on a Friday night.”
You are holding in your hands the definitive guide to our fair city, diligently compiled by the Skidmore Unofficial research team here at our worldwide headquarters. We’ve got a whole lot of health, history, and horses, plus about a billion bars, mouth-watering restaurants, and the Palazzo Riggi.
Did you know that we basically invented the potato chip? Or that Disney World has a Saratoga Springs-themed resort? Or that Dave Cummings—the oldest active professional pornstar—grew up right down the street?
Yes, Saratoga Springs is truly the best place to spend four years dicking around, and it sure beats the fuck out of Middletown, Poughkeepsie, Oberlin, Annandale-on-Hudson, and the town of every other liberal arts school you applied to. Those places are total shitholes.
Love, The SkidmoreUnofficial.com & Co. LLC Editorial Team
The theoretical mathematicians at Time Magazine once determined that Saratoga Springs has the most bars per capita in the United States, which might be possible if you don’t think about it too hard. Here’s a quick crash course on the dozen or so that actually matter.
The Jewel Of Caroline Street
DA’s is like a 200-level English class that serves warm gin shots and doesn’t have locks on the bathroom doors. If you’re one of those kids that has a cigarette for brunch on Case Patio seven days a week you’ll probably have an assigned seat. Sometimes every single human being you know will cram in there, which is kind of like a fun version of purgatory.
Saratoga.com describes Paddock Lounge as a “a sexy yet sophisticated 3,000 square foot underground lounge” where “tufted espresso leather barstools with polished nickel nail-head accents await guests comfortably around a stately granite bar offset with a gas fireplace.” It is pretty much the exact opposite of that.
“And If You Gaze Into The Abyss, The Abyss Gazes Into You”
Peabody’s is a wonderful example of the darkness plaguing the male psyche in late-capitalism America. To drink here is to take a look into your soul and the souls of your countrymen and embrace the disgusting urges of a sexual and violent humanity. Try the Busch Light!
Where The Molson Never Runs Dry
Bullpen is the type of place you go to watch hockey fights without all the hassle of attending a hockey game. One time, a guy got tossed from Bullpen and then proceeded to punch a police horse in the neck. That is the type of fucked up people get there.
Olde Saratoga Brewing Co.
Like all towns in upstate New York, Saratoga has its very own brewery. Occasionally you can smell the
sweet aroma foul stench of malt drifting over Route 50. There is also a tasting room where you can sample the excellent seasonal selections. It’s perfect if you own a growler, turn your nose up at Coors Light, and regularly spend fourteen dollars on a single bottled beer.
Seven Horse Tavern
Where Pitchers Are Considered Gauche
If Peabody’s is a filthy cave, then its neighbor, Seven Horse Tavern, occupies the opposite end of the spectrum. This snooty bar features a quiet, erudite atmosphere and a wide selection of expensive draught beers with clever names. Also, you may run into your English professor getting hammered and making jokes about Deconstructionism because that’s what professors do in their free time.
All The Ambiance Of A Macaroni Grill
Irish Times is laid out like an MC Escher print and sometimes people will send you Facebook invitations for “Skidmore Nights” there. If you enjoy fighting your way up and down flights of stairs, you should go.
Gaffney’s would be the perfect outdoor spot if it weren’t for the sea of greased up man-children pausing between Jägerbombs to slur pick up lines at girls in heels so high they need parachutes to take them off. It’s a maze of a bar with eleven entrances and doors that will lead to either bathrooms, Caroline Street, a popcorn machine, or people ferociously making out.
“It Comes In Pints?”
The Parting Glass is a cavernous Irish pub located in a scenic parking lot on Lake Ave. Our research suggests that people mostly go there to eat corned beef sandwiches and pretend they like Guinness. Occasionally there will be an Irish folk band plucking away on their weird instruments in the corner.
AKA Moe’s Tavern
Back in the day, The Alley used to be a roughneck townie bar. It was one of the last places on the East Side where old timers could go to suck down fifteen Miller High Lifes undisturbed, but then some Skidmore kids started going to Tuesday night karaoke, all the townies got pushed out, and now The Alley is basically the DA’s Annex. This phenomenon is called gentrification and you’re going to be doing it for the rest of your life.
Perfecting The Art Of The Cover Charge
Last year, a group of Skidmore students organized a misguided protest against Putnam Den for allegedly cultivating a homophobic, anti-queer environment, but what they should have been drawing attention to is the fact that the floors are literally covered in human urine. Putnam Den is also mildly famous for serving 40oz bottles of malt liquor, which from a marketing perspective is brilliant and from a dignity perspective is frightening.
Where You Go If You’re Weird
You might be the type of person who talks a bunch of bravado about how you don’t like dancing, but one night you’ll be drunk and lonely and the next thing you know—BOOM—everybody on Caroline Street is watching you through Thirteen’s floor-to- ceiling windows as you grind on some enormous-hoop earring- wearing girl from Albany.
Tin & Lint
Where Nobody Knows Your Name
While the T&L staff might kindly be described as “brusque,” a more accurate description would be “shockingly, unbelievably rude.” For a long time, locals claimed that Don McLean wrote “American Pie” on a napkin in a booth there, but McLean himself later debunked this myth because he’s an asshole who hates small business.
How to Get Thrown Out of Peabody’s
If you’ve never been to Peabody’s, it’s more or less a completely different country with its own set of rules and customs. Once, a certain Skidmore Unofficial correspondent witnessed a bouncer challenge a patron to a chugging contest and promptly vomit all over his own pants. It was horrible, but fortunately for you, getting kicked out of Peabody’s is incredibly easy. Here are just a few possible violations that will get you kicked out:
- Yelling too loudly
- Yelling too quietly
- Wearing your shoes on your feet (females)
- Looking at the sink the wrong way
- Trying to do coke off the bartender
- Throwing up in another patron’s throw-up area
- Being from a U.S. state that the bouncers haven’t heard of
If/when you do get ejected, it’s important to follow these steps:
- Let your body go limp. If you tense up, you could easily sprain an ankle or tear a ligament. While that might sound like an enticing opportunity to file a lawsuit, the reality is that even if you end up taking Peabody’s for its entire net worth, all you’re going to get is thirty bucks in crumpled up singles and a box of “confiscated” roofies. It’s probably not worth it.
- Yell obscenities. This will let onlookers know that you are feisty and spirited and make you an object of sexual desire.
- Keep your eyes on the horizon. Having a steady reference point will help you to maintain balance and avoid the total motion overstimulation and nausea typically associated with being ejected from a bar.
- Call the police and report Peabody’s for serving minors. That’ll show ‘em.
Downtown Saratoga’s double life as a rich person’s summer gambling paradise means our otherwise sleepy college town is blessed with the restaurant scene of a much larger city. Mouzon, The Wine Bar, Max London’s and Beekman Street Bistro are all beacons of wildly impressive and serious cooking that you won’t be able to afford until your parents come to visit.
Around thirty miles outside of Albany, people start talking about how the fried chicken at Hattie’s is the best fucking thing in the world. It might be, but after you eat it, you will need to either take a nap or die. There’s also a nice patio bar nicknamed the “Hattio” (GET IT?) where you can order mint juleps and fan yourself with a hat, while saying things like “lawd, it’s hotter‘n possum in a pepper patch” and “down with the Union!”
The Local is the type of place you would bring a date if your idea of a date is waiting 45 minutes for a table. It’s usually worth waiting because they serve delicious food, but for some reason the waitresses think it’s funny to not write down your order, which invariably ends up with somebody getting SMOKED FUCKING GOUDA on their burger instead of crumbled blue cheese. ABSOLUTE DISASTER.
Do you like grass-fed duck leg confit? Organic jams and jellies? How about bags of gluten-free pasta in weird colors? Putnam Market has all of these things and more, but spending an entire paycheck on a few luxury food items is a decision that you will inevitably regret. There you are, wondering how on Earth you’ll ever manage to pay off your student loans as tears stream down your cheeks into the last bits of delicious tortellini pesto salad. Just go to Price Chopper instead and spend like two bucks on a Stouffer’s.
Legends is a cheap, fast, greasy, and good sandwich place, which makes it an ideal destination for people who are stoned. The proprietors fully exploit this demographic with features such as the “Ramses-style” option which replaces the bread of any sandwich with a pile of french fries. At first, this sounds awesome but after a few bites you will hurl the styrofoam box against the wall in a dripping, sodium-fueled rage because it’s fucking disgusting.
Roma’s sandwiches are the type of meat piles that mobbed-up union bosses have wet dreams about. Their mozzarella is fresh, their capicola is imported, and the store is decorated with an endearingly half-assed “Italian” motif. It also kind of smells a little weird and you’re going to wait on line, but if you don’t find yourself craving a face full of Roma’s at least once a week you probably don’t understand how taste buds work.
Spring Street Deli
Coffee is a hot beverage that is an important component of “campus culture” because it makes college students feel like Real Adults. People also drink it for energy, which is why they say things like “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my morning coffee” and other stupid shit.
Coffee is also a cash crop that has historically fostered the spread of Western imperialism through sub-human working conditions in the Third World (See: “The Theory and Reality of Imperialism in the Coffee Economy of Nineteenth-Century Brazil,” Carlos Manuel Peláez, The Economic History Review, New Series, Vol. 29, No. 2 [May, 1976]). Also, despite recent pushes for economic justice among consumers, there is significant evidence that suggests “Fair Trade” coffee is a scam that negatively impacts small, independent farmers and producer states. Enjoy your gingerbread latte!
Uncommon Grounds is one of the most frantic coffee shops in the world, and the servers are more stressed than the female lead in an Aaron Sorkin show. For some reason, everyone at Skidmore loves doing “work” in this madhouse. Uncommon is also a very popular place for couples to get into weepy fights about “taking things seriously over break.” Come early if you want a seat!
Saratoga Coffee Traders
Apparently There Are Different “Kinds” Of Coffee
Saratoga Coffee Traders readily embraces the tired stereotype that all “baristas” are snotty, condescending pricks. If you like feeling inferior to some girl with a lip piercing, then this is the place to be. Good coffee, though.
The Coffee Shop Equivalent Of A Hoop And A Stick
Famous for its no-laptop/cellphone policy, Virgil’s is run by a gang of neo-luddite, technology-hating survivalists whose stated objective is the complete destruction of modern civilization. It’s in the “about” section of their website.
Saratoga’s most well-known attraction is the Saratoga Race Course, which has all kinds of history we’re not going to tell you about because you know what Wikipedia is because you’re not an idiot. Here’s what you actually need to know about the track:
- Not as fun as it sounds
We know what you’re thinking: how could simultaneously drinking alcohol and wagering on which horrifically mistreated animal is the fastest NOT be a great time, especially if I am dressed kinda fancy? Well, for one thing, beer is like ten dollars or something ridiculous. Also there’s really nothing to do other than gamble, and it’s not like you’re going to win money gambling. That’s not how that works.
The best way to really get out there and enjoy the track is to give up completely on having any sort refined experience and just treat the whole excursion like you’re tailgating a NASCAR event. Fuck dressing up. Fuck the clubhouse. Fuck cigars and paying for seats. Fuck hanging out with people that own horses. Actually, fuck hanging out with people who are even sober enough to pronounce the word horses. Drag a frosty cooler of ‘Stones into the picnic area, eat Andy Capp’s Hot Fries all day, and have a drunk old man in cargo shorts explain what a Box Exacta is. You’ll be fine.
Where To Get A Haircut In Saratoga
The thing about hair is that it’s on your head and it keeps growing all the time. As recently as fifteen years ago, if you allowed your hair to grow too long you ran the risk of being mistaken for a “hippy” and having drugs, sex, and record deals offered to you by strangers. Now we live in darker times, and if you allow your hair to grow too long you’re probably going to be complimented on your “flow” by a guy from Connecticut and get talked into joining the lacrosse team. Long story short, you need to get haircuts now. BUT WHERE???
The previous generation’s YOLO
Swagger is owned and operated by a guy named Dan, who is very personable and repeatedly offers you alcohol while he’s cutting your hair. He also drives a school bus and listens to Def Leppard all day. He is basically your black sheep uncle. The only problem is that he moves his barbershop around town like some sort of underground craps game. If somebody did a modern adaptation of Guys and Dolls they could make it about Swagger.
Larry’s Barber Shop
Come for a shave, stay for the speculation aboutObama’s birthplace
Larry’s is where you go if you want to get your hair cut LIKE A MAN and also where you go if you want to hear elderly locals recite right-wing talking points. It’s like “Fox & Friends,” but…much…slower.
For the Ladiez!
No one that we know has ever actually gone to Brooklyn Attitude, but it has a hilarious name, hence its inclusion on this list. Brooklyn, if you didn’t already know, is the place that you’re going to move after you graduate. Our research shows that there isn’t exactly one uniform “Brooklyn Attitude,” but here are few more prevalent ones (for you; not for the people who are actually from Brooklyn):
- Upset about how long you have been waiting on this subway platform
- Pleased with yourself after paying $4 for an organic avocado
- Afraid of the people who live in the neighborhood you’re gentrifying
Deluxe haircutting store
Classical Concepts is a salon and spa that attempts to pamper you. Upon entering, you are given about a shot’s worth of lukewarm tea while you wait for the “hair professional,” who ascertains which celebrity’s hair you want to copy and gives you a five-second complimentary scalp massage. During the haircut, she will inevitably ask about your boyfriend. If you have one, she likes you. If you don’t, you get to sit in silence for the next hour.
Where To Get Alcohol For Your Stupid Party
Buying alcohol in college begins as a stressful, terrifying experience, progresses into a mundane chore, turns into a fun treat once you turn twenty-one, and finally becomes a mundane chore again. Since people are shallow and easily influenced by material trappings, this weekly (or daily if you really don’t have your shit together) ritual is just as important as owning a car in the quest to make friends. It’s kind of like Boardwalk Empire but instead of graft and political favors you get invited into D-Hall cliques and dorm parties.
Basically Cigarettes, Forties and Slim Jims
Are you a freshman looking for a place to buy beer? Impress your new friends during orientation with your knowledge of Saratoga by taking them to the Getty! This place is a freshman year staple and claiming to “know the Getty Guy” has become something of a dick-measuring contest among Skidmore’s more desperate underclassmen.
Pillar Of The Community
Purdy’s is a liquor store known for its voluminous selection and afternoon wine tastings. We recommend Astica, a five-dollar Argentine malbec that is so good the Wine Bar flips it for eight bucks a glass. Perfect for potlucks and acting like a pretentious douchebag on a shoestring budget. What’s that? “Chocolatey notes” with a “black currant finish?” Fuck off.
Serving classic upstate delicacies such as Mountain Brew Beer, ice cream, and lottery tickets, you can’t throw a stone in the Capital Region without hitting a Stewart’s. The people who work behind the counter take their jobs very seriously and will conduct stringent background checks on anybody attempting to purchase alcohol or tobacco. If you’re interested in working at the Department of Homeland Security after graduation, buying a pack of cigarettes at Stewart’s every week is good preparation.
The Other Pillar Of The Community
Eddy’s Beverage Incorporated is, in all likelihood, the best place in Saratoga to buy beer. We’d probably have more to say about it if they’d ever accepted our fake IDs.
Brew Your Own
For the zymurgically inclined, we’ve heard rumors about a home brewing supply store housed in a tidy cave stuffed with aromatics, hops, and, like, rye chaff or whatever. It’s staffed by a jolly little hobbit named Reed and has everything you need to start your exciting homebrew project. Here’s how!
Beer, wine, cider, and mead are all made through the fundamental process of fermentation. First, you boil a sugar solution, known as wort, which comes primarily from malted barley and other grains, for several minutes. Throw in some hops in order to add wild new dimensions to the “flavor profile.” Allow the tincture to ferment, then add yeast, which will produce carbon dioxide and alcohol.
If you don’t feel like trying to boil five gallons of water on a Scribner (RIP) stove just to play chemist in hopes of impressing some girl who learned about “weißbier” during her teen tour to Berlin then you can just pour a bunch of Rolling Rocks into some weird jars and say you brewed it yourself. Literally nobody will know the difference. Science!
Like The Road but with fewer cannibals
Due to complex zoning laws that nobody understands, you and your parents can fully enjoy the bourgeois charm of Downtown Saratoga without the unsightly blight of modern suburban development, which has been relegated to Wilton. Hooray for white people!
Nestled in the crook of beautiful I-87, Wilton is a stirring, one-mile salute to capitalism, and, if you’re willing to swallow your liberal guilt, you will discover the finest array of fast food and bargain shopping in the county. Whether you crave the zesty, south-of-the-border flavors of new Doritos Locos TacosTM or you’re in the market for a hunting rifle, Wilton has it all!*
Without a doubt, the best thing about Wilton is the shining triumvirate of Chipotle, Five Guys, and Hattie’s Chicken Shack (the fast-food little sister of real Hattie’s). Since they’re all next to each other, a challenge has arisen in recent years, known as the Wilton Trifecta: consume a Chipotle burrito, a Five Guys bacon cheeseburger, and a Hattie’s chicken sandwich, all in a single sitting. Any brave daredevil who accomplishes this feat will be awarded the grand prize of not being able to shit properly for a week.
SEEING THE SIGHTS
In the winter, Saratoga Springs is a barren wasteland, but in the summer it’s the number one tourist destination for wealthy racists! Here are a few of the sights and sounds that you can take in during the three months of the year that you’re not actually around.
Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC)
Like Putnam Den, But Bigger
SPAC is the self-proclaimed “cultural hub of upstate New York, the Hudson Valley, Vermont, the Berkshires, Connecticut, and nearby Canada,” but really it’s just people tailgating Nickelback and Dave Matthews concerts, and Phish promoting their ice cream flavor. Also, SPAC hosts Skidmore’s commencement ceremonies every May, which is probably why our tuition is over $50,000 a year.
Saratoga National Historical Park
Boring, Boring History
In October of 1777, the intrepid rebels of the Continental Army routed the dastardly lobsterbacks just a few miles east of Saratoga Springs, leading to the surrender of the British army and effectively turning the tide of the American Revolution. On that day, the men who lay down their lives made the ultimate sacrifice in the struggle against tyranny. Today, Skidmore students and townies flock to this hallowed ground to honor these heroes by tripping on mushrooms.
Spas and Mineral Baths
Just Plain Unappealing
Saratoga Springs was founded as a resort town for the rich and sickly due to the prevalence of “healing” mineral springs in the area (HENCE THE NAME!!) At some point in your college career, you will go to these tepid pools and try to enjoy them. The truth is, the water is brown and smells like raw sewage. Try to avoid.
Yep, More Horses
All around town, you will see a collection of big, colorful fiberglass horses that were once part of a public art project titled Horses Saratoga Style. Lovingly crafted with painstaking detail by local artists, these homages to the equine form are now mostly used as anus-rests for drunk, naked frisbee players doing the Hunt.
Like Something You Would Build On The Sims
If you’ve ever walked down Broadway (you probably have) you’ve no doubt admired all of the beautiful Victorian houses lining the street, then projectile vomited when you noticed that one mansion that looks like Donald Trump made it out of Legos. That’s Palazzo Riggi, inhabited by wax statue Michele Riggi and her 1,000-year-old husband Ron, who made his fortune stealing patents from General Electric in the 1830s or something. He spent some time in jail but not before setting aside enough money to build his wife’s Dream Home, which has since been stocked with thirty-six tiny dogs, because these people are actually the fucking worst. The dogs have a website. Don’t go there.
If You Do Stay In Saratoga For The Summer
Between June and August Saratoga is basically a Norman Rockwell painting of summertime fun. It is perpetually 85 degrees, drunk patrician old people wander around Broadway tipping everything with a pulse and you can rent a clapboard clubhouse on Covell Ave. for like twenty five dollars a month.* Internships are modern day indentured servitude and you’re never going to get a Real Job anyway so don’t even bother with that fuckery—wait some tables, start wearing wife beaters, and throw out all your socks. Summertime!
If you do make it up for a summer, consult this map for the best swimming holes in the Capital Region. If you deserve to figure it out, you will.
*adjusted for inflation