Lafayette Eclectic Pubs, Sports Bars and Historic Saloons

Some may think that the best nightlife in the Lafayette area takes place on Purdue University’s campus; however, the bar and pub scene across the bridge in Lafayette provides an exciting environment that can fit anyone’s niche.

Eclectic pubs, sports bars and historic saloons are just a few of the different scenes you can experience on your next visit to downtown Lafayette.

Below are just a few suggestions for a good night on the town.

The Black Sparrow

After celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2018, The Black Sparrow continues to offer a new experience every time you visit its location on Main Street. Known for its craft beer menu that continuously changes, the Sparrow’s specialty pizzas are a favorite part of an expanding list of food items that contains old favorites and unique daily specials. Open 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Monday through Friday and 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, the bohemian vibe hits you the moment you walk through the door. But don’t let the calmness during the day fool you. In the evenings, especially Friday and Saturday nights, the music turns up and the number of people grows.

Black Sparrow
The brick walls, dim lighting, and unique shelving help enhance the eclectic vibe that is shown throughout your visit.

“You will always find a mix of different people here,” says John Olakowski, general manager at The Black Sparrow. “One moment we are playing classic rock, and the next you’ll hear hardcore rap.”

If you want to experience a bar with diversity and originality, The Black Sparrow is the place to go.

Knickerbocker Saloon

One fact about the Knickerbocker Saloon stands above the rest: it is the oldest bar in Indiana, having been open since 1835. Knickerbocker is located directly underneath what used to be the Lahr Hotel, where the Amtrak Station would drop off and pick up travelers coming through the town. Even today, the outdoor seating provides a prime place to enjoy a classic cocktail while people watch along 5th Street; however, it is the inside scenery that will leave you staring. The dim lighting and table to ceiling mirrors enhance the antique feel you get the moment you walk through the door.

Knickerbocker Saloon
With a large selection of alcohol, you can try something new or stick with your favorite.

Although the rich history and cigar menu sets the Knickerbocker Saloon apart from many bars in Lafayette, Dan Scott — a bartender at the saloon — said the Knickerbocker prides itself on old-fashioned service as well.

“Professionalism is what sets us apart,” said Scott. “We are expected to come dressed well and provide the best service we can, every day.”

To check out a saloon that has history built into every inch while enjoying your favorite drink, stop by any day between 4 p.m.–3 a.m.

Chumley’s

Chumley’s on 3rd Street in downtown Lafayette describes itself as an “upscale sports bar,” which is exactly what you will find on your visit. The view into this pub from the street is enough to draw you in to see what’s going on inside. A variety of seating ranges from booths to bar stools, along with high and low top tables, that provide plenty of space for standing and cheering on your favorite team during any sporting event. If the open and friendly atmosphere isn’t enough to make you want to stop by, the food and alcohol options will be sure to draw you in.

“We just recently changed our menu to offering a majority of Mexican food,” explained Rebekah McCormick, manager at Chumley’s. “However, what we are probably most known for is our 50 beers on tap.”

Chumleys Craft
50 beers on tap means a long line of eye-catching levers at the bar.

Along with its impressive list of beer on tap, Chumley’s has great deals throughout the week if you are looking for a cheaper option for your nightlife and bar scene experience downtown.

Come to Chumley’s any day of the week between 11 a.m. to 3:30 a.m..

Digby’s

Digby’s Pub and Patio is a great place to try if you’re looking for something informal with a modern space. One feature that separates Digby’s from the rest is its outdoor patio. This is a great space to get together with friends or to enjoy a nice breeze while drinking a handcrafted cocktail.

If you are looking for somewhere that focuses heavily on the local aspect, Digby’s is known for serving locally sourced beef, pork and seasonal produce from the Lafayette Farmers Market. Their local purchasing does not limit their menu options; they have many choices of salads, burgers, sandwiches, and even mac & cheese.

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Digby’s Pub and Patio adds a new outlook to nightlife in downtown Lafayette due to their outdoor seating options. (Photo provided from Digby’s website)

Open daily on 4th  Street downtown Lafayette from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m., be sure to visit Digby’s website to stay up to date with the multiple events that are hosted weekly.

If you are still unsure of where to visit for your nightlife experience while in Lafayette, check out the Home of Purdue Blog to see a list of all the pubs and bars the area has to offer.

This blog was written by Emily Marsh, Purdue University Student.

The Knickerbocker Saloon: An Old School Bar in a New Town

The Knickerbocker Bar West Lafayette

As I sat at a heavy walnut bar surrounded by mirrors that illuminated the impressive liquor display, it was hard for me not to feel like a character out of a Fitzgerald novel. The Knickerbocker Saloon, located at 113 N. Fifth St. in downtown Lafayette, is Indiana’s oldest bar, with an equally impressive legacy. Though the Knickerbocker Saloon has hundreds of tiny details that are worth exploring, listed below are the five most notable.

A prohibition liquor plaque displayed at the Knickerbocker Saloon in Lafayette, Indiana

Calling my History Buffs

Receiving its liquor license in 1835, the Knickerbocker Saloon is the oldest bar in Indiana! Throughout the bar’s history, it has been visited by such notables as Neil Armstrong, Ulysses S. Grant and John Purdue. Featured on the walls by the bathroom are two plaques; one commemorating the Knickerbocker’s 175th anniversary in 2010, and the other displays a certificate for the prohibition of liquor in 1922!

A Zombie Dust beer at the Knickerbocker Saloon in Lafayette, Indiana.

99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

Though they don’t serve 99 different types of beers, the general manager, Deborah Walstra, informed me that they carry 80 to 84 brands of beer at a given time, rotating with the seasons. Sorry to disappoint tap lovers, but they only carry bottled beers, which was a quirky surprise. I tried a Zombie Dust beer, which is a powerfully hopped pale ale that had a great, refreshing flavor and a unique package design. Walstra also mentioned that the Knickerbocker hosts a free beer school on the first and third Monday of every month, in which different breweries offer information and samplings of their products (no sign-up necessary). To support local businesses, the Knickerbocker also carries beer from local breweries in Lafayette, making sure everyone can sample the best that Indiana has to offer.

A caramel apple martini at the Knickerbocker Saloon in Lafayette, Indiana.

Martinis Galore

My interview at the Knickerbocker took place on a Wednesday, which just so happens to be martini night (coincidence- I think not). From the classic martini to an equally impressive “flirtini,” the Knickerbocker offers any type of martini you can dream of (and even some that would never cross your mind). I sampled a caramel apple martini, which was made with a smooth caramel vodka base and tasted like I was biting into an taffy apple: needless to say, I was in love. Walstra said that she encourages her staff to experiment with different martini flavors, creating a new concoction almost every night (truly an impressive feat).

Entertainment room at the Knickerbocker Saloon in Lafayette, Indiana.

Not the Taj Mahal, but….

With a history dating from 1835, the Knickerbocker was bound to have some awesome architectural features. What struck me first was the beautiful bar. Constructed from walnut with a cherry veneer, it exudes a 1920s feel. I also loved the high, tin ceilings, which added to the “old money” ambiance. Because of the stunning architectural features, the Knickerbocker hosts many business and wedding receptions.

Live entertainment offered at the Knickerbocker Saloon.

Live Entertainment

Perhaps the most attractive feature of the Knickerbocker Saloon is the live entertainment. On Monday the bar features karaoke. Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, live piano music entertains. Every Friday a unique artist is featured from People’s Live (a local brewery that supports regional musicians), and on Saturday live music is offered! In the extended green room, a stage is set up to make accommodating artists and large groups a breeze.

Open every day from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m., the Knickerbocker is sure to dazzle you with its impressive history and diverse drink menu. For more information about the bar visit its Facebook or call (765) 423-2234. For more information about local bars in Lafayette/West Lafayette be sure to check out the Home of Purdue Blog.

Sarah Staatz, Purdue University Student, shares this blog.

Live music every weekend at Knickerbocker Saloon, Indiana’s Oldest Bar!

Happening now!  Looking for live music that will rock your socks and get your feet a swaying?  Every weekend a special head-lining band performs at Indiana’s “oldest bar”, the Knickerbocker Saloon, to provide its guests an evening of musical entertainment and fun.  Join locals and visitors as they gather together for camaraderie, delicious beer and great music.

Rock n’ Roll, the Blues, Country; the Knickerbocker Saloon offers this and more!  I personally love “Blues” music and the Knickerbocker Saloon features bands that can make your heart fill heavy and full one moment and light and airy the next with just the rhythm of sounds from the instruments.  Add in the friendliness of the servers, the comradeship of the visitors, and a beautiful bar; makes for the creation of a memorable night at the Knickerbocker Saloon.

If you enjoy tasting a diverse range of beers the Knickerbocker Saloon features over 80
specialty, craft, & import beers. They feature local beer made by People’s Brewing Company in Lafayette, Indiana. They offer everything from pale and amber ales to more robust stouts.  It is a beer lovers dream!
The Knickerbocker Saloon is a famous landmark in Lafayette as it is Indiana’s oldest bar.  It was established in 1835 as the “Cherry Wood Bar” of the Lahr Luxury Hotel, and issued Indiana’s first liquor license.  The “Cherry Wood Bar” was later renamed the Knickerbocker Saloon in 1874 when the areas first player piano was introduced. (Music has been a very important player in creating the bar into what it is today!) The Knickerbocker boasts a guest list including; President Grant, Mark Twain, Al Capone, and even Neil Armstrong!

Whether you are looking for delicious dining, interesting attractions and shops, enticing events or home away from home lodging—a getaway to Lafayette-West Lafayette, Indiana, is sure to satisfy. For more information about this bar and others in the area, visit our website at www.HomeOfPurdue.com