Elements of a Great Bar

Fortunately, there are a lot of bars out there. Some are great most of them not so great. A bar can be very personal and a place where everybody knows your name. And everyone will agree there is nothing better than going to your favorite place and ordering the alcoholic beverage of your choice. Throw in some great food, good tunes and a friendly atmosphere and there you have the ingredients for a great night and the elements of a great bar.

Unfortunately, I have subjected myself to all sorts of bars. Some of them sublime some I would rather not mention. Over the years I have visited many bars from all over the world and become somewhat of an expert on the subject. As your personal concierge of extracurricular adult activities let me guide you through the elements of a great bar and provide some insight to help you choice the right place for you.

What makes a regular bar a good bar or even a great bar? There are so many bars out there just doing the bare minimum and at first sight it’s hard to tell which bars are worthy of your hard earned dollars. So what indicators can you look out for before you can let down your guard and settle in for the evening? Whether you’re into pubs, dive bars, country western or rock & roll bars there are basic elements that any bar needs to possess in order to be a great bar. This particular combination of subtle elements what great bars have mastered and mediocre bars have ignored.

The most important element of a great bar actually depends on several aspects all coming together at once. A great bar is somewhere that is close by, somewhere familiar, somewhere they know your name and what you like to drink. No need for introductions and all the guess work of what to order is taken out. This is the type of bar where you can let the autopilot take over and seriously relax.

The second most important element of a great bar is a maniacal bartender. Someone who will show a genuine concern for your current state of liquidity while performing the tactful skills of a priest during confession. A truly maniacal bartender mastered at least one of the sacramental beverages of their craft. I’m talking about margaritas, mojitos, specialty cocktails and coffees, and of course martinis. Great bartenders can take an ordinary drink and turn it into a brand new experience. The rabbit hole is deep and some of the highest skilled curators of the elixirs take their craft to entirely new levels. Few bartenders have truly earned the right to be called mixologists.

Next on the list is an element that only a truly great bar will possess, convenient hours of operation. Operating hours that compliments your lifestyle choices. Not all of us work the 9am-5pm shift and we certainly don’t want to feel guilty while trying to find a place that will serve beer at 7am with breakfast. The small group of diligent workers happily willing to stay up all night to keep society running deserve to have an adult beverage when the work day ends. Whether your shift ends at 4am or 4pm there are a lot of us that enjoy having that well deserved after work drink. It’s a good feeling when you can walk into a bar during all hours of the day and find other people with similar schedules sitting around having a good time. When you find a bar that compliments your timetable you feel at easy like your hanging out in a friends living room.

A good jukebox and great food are very important elements of a great bar. Bars lacking the luxurious location can make up for not being aesthetically pleasing by offering great food and good tunes. Some of the best meals I ever had were at local, mom & pop, hole in the wall kind of places. A bar known for its great food will definitely have a strong following of regulars despite of the interior design. Great food entices happy customers to tell their story and try to encourage others to share their experience. When amazing food takes the center stage restaurant marketing ideas and happy customer’s word-of-mouth advertising only build up the legend.

Speaking of great food there is one item on the menu that can make or break a bar. The almighty hamburger is in a category of its own and an extremely important element of a great bar. This American favorite cannot be overlooked and when a bar serves a mouthwatering hamburger with fresh toppings and hand-made sides many hungry fans will follow. Despite all the options available while dining out, sometimes we just want to enjoy a perfectly prepared patty of grilled seasoned ground beef on a toasted bun with fresh toppings. The sides are just as important as the entree and in most situations sides prepared from scratch are better than reheated frozen food. A bar that could offer a legendary burger and would be willing to go where no other bar has gone before with their options for side dishes might be able to start a revolution in this country.

When seeking a bar to enjoy your evening or afternoon with a few cocktails here is what you should avoid. The first on the list of what to avoid is places that try to distract you from the food and drink. Theme bars use cheap entertainment to take your attention away from the previously frozen food and cheap alcohol they serve. And heaven forbid my least favorite and most terrifying tragedies of all theme bars, the karaoke bar. As far as we have advanced as a society and with all the information we possess today, haven’t we figured out that alcohol and amateur singers do not mix well? I thought alcohol was theme enough. As a public service and in an effort to clean up our city streets, please put the microphones down.

Bars with lines should be avoided unless you enjoy being places so busy you’re vacuum sealed like a pack of hot dogs shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers. Wall to wall people pushing and shoving their way to the bar or restroom with no regard for personal space does not sound like a good time. To make matters worse some bars and most clubs force their patrons to wait in an unnecessary line-up until granted entrance. You know you are going to pay a too much for a drink when there are more people standing outside than inside the bar.

A bar should be comfortable and inviting like slipping into a nice warm bath. There needs to be an intimate feeling to a bar in order to make your visit a personal experience. No matter what you are looking for I guarantee it’s out there. Take it from someone who has been in the industry for decades, after a few drinks you don’t something adventurous you want something familiar.


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