Now, we don’t make the rules here, but our personal belief is that the best way to go a game at the XL Center is a drink or two deep. It’s probably because one of the best traditions of going to sporting events is getting drinks with friends beforehand— it’s called a pre-game for a reason, right?
We know that 99% of the time, both Wolf Pack and UConn games happen during some of the coldest months of the year (and is it just us, or is downtown Hartford colder and windier than the rest of the state?), so we’re giving you our favorite bars for pre-games that are the perfect amount of distance away from the XL Center so you don’t have to completely freeze as you walk to the game.
A fan-favorite and packed to the brim before almost every UConn Men’s game, this pub is warm, cozy, and the perfect place to grab pub food and Irish comfort food plates. Get here early, though, it’ll fill up fast on game day!
The newest and coolest bar spot on the Pratt Street scene features two floors with tons of seating and multiple bars, a huge selection of beers on tap, craft cocktails, wines, and your dream menu of pre-game apps, snacks, burgers, and handhelds. It’s also quite the happening place before games these days.
We love this spot for its pizza, buffalo chicken dip, and sweet lineup of live music. The open kitchen concept and lively bar make for a buzzing atmosphere at literally any time of day. Pre-Wolf Pack and UConn games are no exception.
Behind the XL Center, The Tavern Downtown is a quintessential sports bar with greasy, delicious pub food, an extensive draft list, and our favorite beer towers! This bar is the perfect meet-up spot for groups of friends headed to hockey or basketball games.
A bar with a little bit of southern-country twang, we love Rocking Horse for its commitment to its theme. With country tunes floating in the background, this is a perfect spot to grab a mixed drink (or two) before a game. Plus, they’ve got games and activities, which makes it even more fun!
This one is a little bit further down the street than these other spots we listed, but it’s still worth the honorable mention. We’re fans of Pigs Eye Pub for its rooftop patio, drink deals, and tons of games (think: Jenga, darts, pool, and more).