Alcohol gave us the courage to flit from one worldly subject to the next, to armchair travel together out of this enclave. We could do this without alcohol, couldn’t we? But lately that felt like trying to drive a car with no gas in the tank.

The Bar—that lone tavern in the sprawling metropolis that is your college town—is a thing of intrigue. Even for a native New Yorker accustomed to passing by watering holes on every block, the bar at a small school manages to harness a surprising amount of mystique.