Chapter House begins as a bar where you just come for a drink with friends, but you quickly fall in love with it, and in the end, everyone leaves a bit of themselves there.
Update: The Chapter House burned down and is therefor no longer open…
The ambiance of Chapter House is entirely unlike any other place I’ve ever been. Even in the dead of winter, you walk into Chapter House and you’re immediately hit with the smell of beer and popcorn and…heat (because somehow it’s always 85 degrees inside). While that may sound totally disgusting, it isn’t. It feels like home. It’s dark inside, because the lattice windows haven’t been cleaned in years and only half of the light fixtures work. Beer steins and pennants and a rowing scull hang from the ceiling above the bar. The dark wood walls are covered in ancient photos of Cornellians posing for team pictures, fraternity and sorority composites, and candid snapshots often taken at Chapter House itself. The varnish has long since worn off the benches and tables, which are completely carved up with the initials of students who haven’t sat there for decades. Chapter House is usually loud inside, because everyone you know is already there. There is a stage in the back room, near the pool and foosball tables, where local bands play on Saturday nights—but be sure to stop by on Tuesday evenings as well, when a small group of elderly gents sit in the corner and play Irish folk music while their wives sit patiently at the next table and just listen and smile.
You don’t come to Chapter House for the rum and cokes, you come to Chapter House for the beer. They have something like 40 or 50 beers available ranging from PBR to Hoegaarden to mostly New York and other craft brews, and while I’m not typically a beer drinker, I am always able (usually with the helpful recommendations of the bartenders) to find something I really enjoy. If you’re a hipster, yeah they have your PBR, but they more importantly have an impressive variety of craft beers that would make any beer-drinker hanker for a cold one…and all for under $5.
I probably would have fallen in love with Chapter House for the free popcorn alone, but the character of the place and the people there are what end up stealing your heart.