New Haven bar exclusive to Yale students is Connecticut’s best dive bar, Yelp says

Gryphon’s Pub, a members-only bar for Yale students, was named in Yelp’s list of the “Top Dive Bar in Every State,” despite not considering itself a bar.

Photo of Daniel Figueroa IV
Close-up of bartender serving beers at bar

Close-up of bartender serving beers at bar

Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

At Gryphon’s Pub in New Haven it’s all about who you know – just make sure they go to Yale.

The New Haven social club last month made Yelp’s list of the “Top Dive Bar in Every State,” taking honors for the Nutmeg State, despite being exclusively a home for bulldogs.

It’s an unusual honorific for the 50-year-old pub. While all dive bars are not created equally, they often feature a few (if even vaguely so) aspects in common. Dim lighting and cheap drinks combined with no-nonsense bartenders (not mixologists) are oft-sighted dive bar staples. So offering free beer — like Gryphon’s Pub is wont to do — can give a divey bar a leg up (or at least a few extra coasters to balance that wobbly stool).

But one thing that usually separates your dives from your more upscale haunts is exclusivity — or the lack thereof. But that’s not the case at Gryphon’s, where you have to be a student at one of the world’s most exclusive universities, the Ivy League’s Yale, to get in.

The bar has cheap drinks covered. Its current menu, updated Oct. 25, doesn’t list a beer or wine over $5. And its known to throw weekly parties where free beer pours until it runs out. The caveat is, you must be a Yale student to get into the pub. If not, you at least have to know a student who can bring you in. You then have to sign a guestbook.

Gryphon’s Pub, 204 York St., is housed in a 99-year-old building that was built for Yale’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity. The building also houses Yale’s Graduate Professional Student Center. According to the website, Gryphon’s Pub considers itself not a bar, perse, but a social center that operates a student-run bar.

Yelp didn’t give any of runners up, but said the list was compiled from a list of businesses in its “dive bar” category. They were then ranked according to factors like volume and ratings of reviews. Yelp also said the bars had a passing health score as of Oct. 17. 

Duff’s Brooklyn in New York and Biddy Early’s in Boston took honors in nearby New York and Massachusetts, respectively. Those bars, however, don’t have the same membership requirement.