Firehouse 12: a fire-free escape

It's getting hotter
It's getting hotter // Wa Liu

Firehouse 12 might be a little too “28” for the average Yale undergrad.

My compadres and I agreed there was something about our experience at the bar, located at the corner of Crown and Orange, that screamed to us a median age of 28. Perhaps we sensed a dwindling joie de vivre among the mélange of FES students, townies and stray seniors trading in more exuberant suite parties of their past 3 years for a Dark and Stormy ($9) on a Wednesday night. Of course, some go with Firehouse 12’s trademark “East Rock” ($9), a mixture of bourbon, amaretto and ginger beer that goes down strong on the first sip but leaves you with a nice sweet aftertaste.

Whatever you decide to drink, you’ll have plenty of time to work up a thirst on a walk over to the Ninth Square (last number, I promise), an unlikely enclave of high-end restaurants and shops perched along Orange Street south of Chapel. Across the street cardamom rose water lattes and kale chips present a suitable pregame option at Greenwell Coffee. Artspace hides just around the corner.

While the bar’s name pays homage to its building’s previous incarnation, today’s Firehouse 12 fights flames with cool live jazz on most Friday nights ($12-18 tickets). You can trust Firehouse 12’s music selection, since the space houses a recording studio upstairs. When we descended into the cozy, basement bar on a regular weeknight, the DJ was spinning smooth jazz tracks, and not the smooth jazz considered synonymous with elevator music, but enchanting saxophone melodies suited for the Village Vanguard. Indeed, the bar’s cavernous walls and futuristic lights — parts look like a rock-climbing wall — better complemented the new age tunes played later in the evening.

The bar wasn’t packed, but an eclectic crowd was taking in the evening. A girl in a tank top sipped a PBR at a nearby table, and a small business-casual cluster mingled on the far side of the bar. One guy in a plaid shirt was sitting at a table reading the New Yorker over a draft beer.

We debated the purposes of all the evening’s visitors. “Date spot?” Maybe, probably on the line: the man and woman seated just to our left looked like they were battling with this very question. “Good for large groups?” A few had set up shop by the more secluded tables, but Firehouse 12 probably isn’t the spot for your wildest night. Or you could always follow the example of our literary friend and bring your favorite campus publication (obviously WEEKEND).

On your average night at a Yalie-dominated venue, everyone seems rallied around a cause: a love of fraternity(ies), youth or the Dubra coursing through their bloodstreams. Yale often feels like a constant community so sharing a drink with strangers passing in the night can be refreshing.

Or you could just wait until you’re 28.

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