Bar Buddies: Element
After a hard week at Carnegie Mellon, which, let’s be honest, is all of them, all you need is the right night out with friends. Both of us had particularly rough weeks, so we were looking to get tipsy and complain a bit about the past seven days. With that in mind, Element was maybe not the best choice for us. As one of Pittsburgh’s few LGBTQ bars, Element is a lively, fun place. If your favorite way to blow off steam is to get turnt and dance, Element would be a good place to go, but if you need a more chill atmosphere to drunkenly rant about school, it’s probably not your best bet.
The location: Element is on Ellsworth Street in Shadyside, centrally located in terms of food. Right across the street is the Tipsy Cow, and the restaurants of Walnut Street are not far off either. In terms of transportation from campus, the 71B or D bus is probably your best bet. The bus will take you down Fifth Avenue into Shadyside, but it’s still a bit of a trek from the bus stop, so I wouldn’t recommend making the trip on foot unless you’re already in Shadyside.
The drinks: The drinks were fine but nothing to write home about. Element has a nicely stocked bar to make all the solidly mediocre cocktails your heart desires. The whiskey sour was somehow both watered down and very strong while the vodka soda was much more vodka than soda. The main upside to the drinks was that they were very cheap at $4.50 a cocktail. This bar seemed like a good place to go if you’re looking to get drunk for cheap before dancing with friends, and, unlike the other places we’ve been to so far this semester, Element did not have a food menu.
The vibe: There must have been some sort of special event going on that we didn’t know about before planning to go, because, other than the two of us and two other girls at the other end of the bar, the entire rest of Element’s patronage on that night was male, but supposedly there is normally more of a gender balance. Even on a Thursday, Element gave off a high-energy vibe with upbeat pop music blasting and youthful customers laughing and drinking with their friends. One warning: because of the loud music, Element is not a good place for conversation. When I went up to the bar to order my drink, I asked the bartender for advice on what to get, and I had no idea what he was saying, so I eventually just went with it. I think he said he was going to make me a vodka soda, but I wouldn’t outrule the possibility that I just totally couldn’t hear him.
Lit or Nah: I’d say that Element was a pretty lit bar — the atmosphere was very young and energetic, probably even more so on weekend nights, and the drinks were designed to get you drunk without burning a hole in your wallet. However, I’d also say that we were not feeling up for lit.