Shaking Things Up – How to Create a Unique Bar Experience  


If you are anything like me, you have walked into hundreds (maybe even thousands) of bars in your lifetime.  From authentic Irish pubs in Dublin to edgy laneway bars in Melbourne, people are looking for a lot more than just a good drink from their bar experience.  From the bar owner to front and back of the house management, everyone needs to work together towards a common vision to ensure the bar vibe is instilled in every guest that walks through the door.  If you work at or own a bar and are looking to give some fresh spark to space, then this is the article for you.  Read on for top tips on creating a unique bar experience for all of your patrons.

 Quality is Key

If you want to catch the eye and heart of the frequent bar-goer, then don’t skimp on any aspect of your bar.   From the decor, to the bar supplies, to the extra touches in the bathroom; all the extra efforts will surely not go unnoticed.   I will never forget when I got to a place in my life where I could saddle up to a fancy bar and order a top shelf vodka martini.  The bartender whipped out a beautiful martini shaker and poured it straight into my glass through a shiny strainer and I was made a loyal guest in that instant.  

Ambience is Absolutely Important

 Why do so many people like to frequent Irish Pubs even in towns and cities outside of Ireland?  Because the ambience is predictable and creates a real drinking vibe.  I am not saying you should switch your pub to an Irish theme, but there is something to be learned from this.  When creating your bar, take into account the lighting, the seating and the music.  What kind of experience do you want people to have?  A mellow lots-of-wine-drinking kind of night?  Or a Frank Sinatra too-many-dirty-martinis kind of night.  From the second a patron walks through your doors the ambience will guide them towards every ordering decision and will certainly impact how much they will spend.

 Fantastic Food

 Even if you own a cheap and cheerful pub, take the time to put quality food on the menu.  Even the crap beer drinker will appreciate really quality hot wedges over frozen and flash fried chips.  Sourcing local and seasonal foods will attract the foodie to your door, and pairing with beers and wines with a variety of price points will ensure the chap from the Uni down the road and the executive from upstairs will both frequent your establishment.

 Remember the Regulars

There is no greater feeling than walking into your local and having the bartender pouring your favourite drink before you even sit down.  Train your staff to pay attention to who visits the bar, what they drink, and what they like to talk about.  A friendly bartender is one thing, but one that can follow up on the conversation from the week prior will ensure a second or third drink to be ordered

A bar can act as a second living room, a gathering place of friends, or a magical place to meet someone new.  Working at or owning a bar is an exciting opportunity to create memories that last a lifetime for all guests.   Don’t try to be everything to everyone.  Set a theme and run with it.  Create a vision and educate your staff.  And most importantly have fun with it.  The more fun the owners and staff have the more fun it will be to hang out there!