What makes a good bar? Tips from the 50 best bars in the world

People go to bars for all types of reasons. It could be astounding drinks they’re after or a world-class food menu. Perhaps it’s the music or the atmosphere, or it could be a haunt for the famous. Whatever you’re after, here are some top tips for getting it right to ensure your bar is a sure-fire hit.

Top of the list of The World’s 50 Best Bars, Dandelyan in London has been described as a ‘zany, botany-inspired cocktail bar’ for its unique décor. Keeping things fresh does the trick, too. Though tremendously popular and profitable, Dandelyan has since closed and another venture from the owner is in the works. The aesthetic of your bar dictates its style and tone since it’s what your clients will see first. Do you go for sleek and modern, artsy and hip, minimalist and concrete? Decisions, decisions…

Push yourself
That being said, Dandelyan recently closed its doors for the last time even though it was tremendously popular and highly profitable. The owner suggested the bar had conquered the world and wanted fresh challenges to push himself and his team to the next level. Pushing yourself to be innovative, dynamic and fresh can muster extra customers wanting a taste of your team’s enthusiasm. 

Bottoms up
Of course, signature cocktails can shape a bar’s reputation. Think the Singapore Sling at Raffle’s Hotel, Singapore. The Bellini at Harry’s Bar, Venice. The Daiquiri at El Floridita, Cuba. Or Tommy’s Margarita at Tommy’s in San Francisco. Remember, though, great cocktails are made from great ingredients. Stay fresh out there.

Music sets the mood
Music contributes toward the ambience of your bar so getting it right is crucial. American Bar in London has a live pianist every day and night, playing moody blues and jazz. In fact, most high-end bars make use of a regular musician, so think up how to get your audience’s heads rocking.

Niche is exclusivity
If you offer a premium service, you need to hone how you market such exclusivity with subtlety and class. Manhattan in Singapore is an adults-only bar serving gourmet food styled on dishes from the 1920s. Sounds niche, right? Well, Manhattan happens to be ranked the best bar in all of Asia with a multi-award-winning bartender at the helm.

The NoMad in New York says it draws inspiration from traditional pub fare and is rooted in a casual, convivial standard for its customers. The owner understands the crowd and target market, which is why it’s so popular. Along with a classically-focused proposal, it offers rare spirits and sought-after wines. Noted.

Telling a story
People travel far and wide to visit specific bars if they feel they offer a unique experience. The Old Man in Hong Kong pays tribute to the life and work of the writer (and legendary booze-master/‘sophisticated drinker’), Ernest Hemingway. With the right approach, your bar could tell a killer story. Tip of the iceberg.

Pique your customer’s interest with ‘out-there’ ideas. Oriole in London uses the tagline ‘Wander in wonder’ and describes itself as a ‘sumptuous space […] an oasis of warmth, mystery and magic’. Be as bizarre as you like. Think Himkok in Oslo, which describes itself as ‘a speakeasy-cum-micro-distillery’, true to life where ‘knowing the address is only just the start’ since the doors to this place are well hidden. Are you googling it yet?

What next?
Whether you own a bar in need of immediate renovation or have just purchased a property and are unsure what to do with it, high expectations should get you rolling. And remember, be assertive and curious about your approach.

It’s worth considering the risks involved in such a project, too. With the right insurance package, you can feel more confident throwing everything into it knowing that you’re covered if disaster strikes.

For more information on how we at R Collins & Co can help you, simply get in touch. Call 01977 558391.