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Bar Concepts: Unique Ideas For Your Bar

Tillie Demetriou
3 Oct 2022

 

There are approximately 60.14 thousand bars and nightclubs in the United States [1]. So it's safe to say the bar industry is pretty competitive.

If you're a bar owner wanting to attract a crowd, you need to be able to offer something unique to stand out from the rest.

One way to do this is by having an excellent bar concept. A bar concept is the overall theme or feel of your bar. It's what makes your bar unique and can be anything from a specific type of music you play to the décor and ambiance of the venue.

This guide will share nine unique bar concepts that will inspire you. Plus, we'll show you some real life examples of some of the coolest bars in the US.

Let's get started!

Factors to consider when coming up with your bar concept

Before we dive into the list of ideas, you should keep a few things in mind when coming up with your bar concept.

Your target market:

Who are you trying to attract? What kind of crowd do you want to draw? Your concept should be something that appeals to your target market.

For example, a young, hip crowd, would be attracted to more modern bars with loud trendy music. If you want to attract an older crowd, however, something classic and timeless might be a better fit.

Your location:

Where is your bar located? Is it in a busy, urban area or a more laid-back, suburban setting? Your location can help dictate what kind of concept will work best.

For example, a busy city bar might get away with a smaller venue and a more intimate feel, whereas a bar in the suburbs might need to be larger and have a more relaxed vibe.

Your budget:

Different bar owners have different budgets. So be sure to run the numbers to decipher yours. A more elaborate concept will likely cost more to execute than a simpler one. So, you'll need to decide what you're willing to spend on your bar concept and work within those constraints.

Now that we've gone over some factors to consider, let's dive into the list of bar concepts.

9 unique bar concepts to inspire you

1. Experience Bar Concepts

Imagine this. You walk into a bar and are transported to another time and place. Maybe it's the roaring '20s with Art Deco-style interior, or an ice bar. Whatever it is, an experience bar takes you on a journey from the moment you step inside.

This concept is all about creating an immersive experience for your guests. To pull this off, you'll need to pay attention to every detail, from the music and décor to the drinks and even the staff. You don't want anything to break the spell you're trying to create.

Some considerations for an experience bar include:

  • What time period or place will you take your guests to? : maybe you want to take them back in time to the Prohibition era, or maybe you want to transport them to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

  • What kind of décor and ambiance will you create?: This will be dictated by the time period or place. If your experience bar in '20s themed, then think about using dark woods, rich fabrics, and low lighting. If you're taking them to Hogwarts, then you might want to use stone walls, candles, and lots of greenery.

  • How much are you willing to spend on décor and other elements? : You'll need to factor in the cost of things like props, décor, and even costumes for your staff.

Experience bar example: The Beauty Bar:

This New York City bar [2] is a self-care haven with martinis and manicures. As soon as you step inside, you're transported back to the Gramercy salon of the past with its vintage feel. The perfect blend of old and new, this bar is a great example of an experience bar done right.

Guests can spend their evenings getting pampered and enjoying a delicious cocktail or dancing along to the spinning DJs. No matter what they choose to do, they're sure to have a unique and memorable experience.

2. Speakeasy bar concepts

A speakeasy bar is a throwback to the Prohibition era when alcohol was outlawed in the United States. These bars were often hidden away, accessed through secret entrances and back doors.

To create a modern speakeasy bar, you'll need to focus on creating a secretive and exclusive feel. This can be done with a hidden entrance, dim lighting, and luxurious décor. You'll also want to create a list of creative cocktails that are sure to impress your guests.

Some considerations for speakeasy bars include:

  • How will you create a hidden entrance? : Whether it's a hidden door or a back alley entrance, you'll want to make sure your guests feel like they're in on a secret.

  • How will you create a luxurious atmosphere? : Rich fabrics, dark woods, and low lighting will help create an exclusive feel.

  • What kind of cocktails will you serve? : Get creative with your menu and come up with some unique and delicious cocktails.

Speakeasy bar example: The Blind Barber

This Los Angeles speakeasy bar [3] is hidden behind a functioning barbershop. To get to the bar, you have to go through the barbershop and into the secret door at the back. Once inside, you're transported to a different world with its luxurious décor and delicious cocktails.

The Blind Barber is the perfect example of a modern speakeasy bar. They've taken the concept and made it their own with a unique twist.

3. Beach bar concepts

Do you like pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain? Then a beach bar is a perfect concept for you!

Beach bars are all about giving guests that tropical vacation feel without ever having to leave their hometowns. Whether you have an outdoor bar or you just create an outdoorsy feel to your bar, this concept with transport your guests to the tropical vacation they keep dreaming of.

To create this feel, you'll need to focus on décor and ambiance. Think palm trees, island life, tiki torches, and sand. Lots and lots of sand.

Some considerations for a beach bar include:

  • Where will you get palm trees and tiki torches? Sourcing these items can be tricky, but there are a few online retailers that specialize in tropical décor.

  • How much sand will you need? Do you want to completely cover the floor or just have a few sandboxes for guests to enjoy? You'll need to factor in the cost of the sand as well as the cost of the permit.

  • What music will you play? Tropical tunes are a must for any beach bar. Create a playlist of your favorites, or hire a live band to play some island-inspired music.

Beach bar example: The Polynesian

This New York City bar [4] transports guests to the tropics with its Polynesian-inspired décor and delicious cocktails. From the moment you step inside, you feel like you're on a tropical vacation. The perfect place to escape the winter blues, The Polynesian is a must-visit for anyone looking for a beach bar experience.

4. Wine bar concepts

For the wine lover in all of us, a wine bar is a perfect concept.

Wine bars are all about offering a selection of high-quality natural wines in a relaxed and comfortable setting. To create this atmosphere, you'll want to focus on creating a warm and inviting space with a team that knows the difference between a full-bodied Malbec and a fruity Moscato.

Your wine selection is also important. You'll want to offer a variety of wines that will appeal to all kinds of drinkers. And don't forget the cheese! A vino-themed bar isn't complete without a selection of cheeses to accompany your drinks.

Some considerations for a wine bar include:

  • What kind of atmosphere will you create? : Maybe you want a rustic vibe with exposed brick and dark woods, or maybe you're going for something more modern with clean lines and a welcoming aesthetic.

  • How will you select your wines? : There are so many wines to choose from! You'll want to offer a variety of reds, whites, and bubblies to appeal to all kinds. Plus, consider serving other drinks or introducing a cocktail list to your guests who don't love wine.

  • What cheese should you offer? Similarly, you'll want a minimum of 5-6 different cheeses to really give your guests a range.

Vino-themed bar example: Augie's Bar & Kitchen

 This Chicago bar [5] is the perfect spot for any wine lover. They offer a wide selection of wines, as well as small plates and charcuterie. The space is warm and inviting, with a fireplace and comfortable seating. It's the perfect place to relax with a glass of wine and some cheese.

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5. Art Bar concepts

An art bar is a perfect concept for anyone who loves art or wants to create a unique and cultured experience for their guests.

Art bars focus on creating a space that is both stylish and fun. To do this, you'll need to fill your bar with local artwork, host live music or DJs, and create a cocktail list that are works of art in themselves.

Some considerations for an art bar include:

  • What artists will you feature? : Will there be huge-name artists or local up-and-comers?

  • How often will you rotate the art? : You'll want to keep things fresh by rotating the artwork every few months.

  • What kind of music will you have? : An art bar is the perfect place to host live music or DJs.

Art bar example: The Palace Theatre & Art Bar

 Located in Seattle, Georgetown [6], The Palace Theatre & Art Bar is the perfect example of an art bar. The bar concept is simple: a bar located in a theatre. But, the execution is what makes this bar unique. The space hosts theatre, music, burlesque, drag shows, stand-up, community events, art shows, and so much more.

6. Dive bar concepts

This is for all the no-frills drinkers out there. A dive bar is a perfect concept for anyone who loves a good, chap beer.

Dive bars are all about offering a relaxed, comfortable, and welcoming setting without all the bells and whistles. To create this atmosphere, you'll want to focus on offering a variety of beers at reasonable prices. You won't need fancy cocktails or a menu of small plates. Just some good, cheap beer and a team that knows how to pour a pint.

Some considerations for a dive bar include:

  • What kind of atmosphere will you create? : You're definitely appealing to the low-maintenance drinkers with this bar concept. Keep things simple with a few TVs, some bar games, and a pool table.

  • How will you select your beers? : A dive bar is all about offering a variety of cheap beers. You can get creative with your taps or just stick to the classics.

  • What is your price point? Make sure your prices are reasonable and in line with what your guests are expecting.

Dive bar example: The Cactus Bar

Established in 1936, The Cactus Bar [7] is one of the oldest dive bars in Boise. The bar is extremely informal and offers a variety of beers at reasonable prices. It's the perfect 'hole-in-the-wall' bar for anyone looking for a relaxed and comfortable setting. The bar is decorated with photographs of downtown Boise over the last century, which makes it a unique and interesting place to visit.

7. Sports Bar concepts

What's your sport of choice? Football? Basketball? Baseball? Soccer?

No matter what your sport of choice is, a sports bar is the perfect concept for any fan.

Sports bars are all about offering a place for fans to watch their favorite teams and players. To create this atmosphere, you'll want to focus on creating a space that is comfortable and inviting. You'll also need a large television or multiple televisions to show the game.

And don't forget the food! Sports bars are known for their fried chicken wings, burgers, and pizza. So, be sure to have a menu that will please any fan.

Some considerations for a sports bar include:

  • What kind of atmosphere will you create? : Will this be a rowdy bar or a more relaxed setting?

  • How many TVs will you have? : You'll want to make sure you have enough TVs to accommodate all your guests.

  • What games will you show? : You'll want to make sure you show all the major games.

Sports Bar Example: Chickie’s and Pete’s

Philadelphia's #1 sports bar concept Chickie's and Pete's [8] is known to many all over the world. The restaurant is known for its signature fries and range of seafood treats such a crab and muscles.

8. A Gastro-Pub

A gastro-pub is the perfect concept for anyone who loves good food and good beer.

Gastro-pubs focus on offering a menu of upscale pub food. To create this atmosphere, you'll want to focus on creating a space that is comfortable and inviting. You'll also need a large variety of beers on tap. And don't forget the food! Gastro-pubs are known for their wings, burgers, and fries. So, be sure to have a drinks menu that will please any fan.

Some considerations for a gastro-pub

  • What kind of atmosphere will you create? : Are you going fully British with your gastro-pub, or are you putting your own spin on it?

  • How many beers will you have on tap? : You'll want to make sure you have a large variety of beers to choose from.

  • What is your food menu like? : Gastro-pubs are known for their upscale pub food. So, be sure to have a menu that will please any fan.

Gastro-pub Example: The Dandelion

The Dandelion's [9] bar concept allows you to experience the best of both worlds...a refined country pub with a menu of delicious gastro-pub food. The space is cozy and inviting, with English-style furnishings and a fireplace. And the menu features a variety of cask and draft ales, including British favorites.

9. Cocktail lounge bar concept

A cocktail bar is a perfect concept for anyone who loves a good cocktail.

Cocktail bars focus on offering a menu of delicious cocktails. To create this atmosphere, you'll want to focus on creating a space that's chic and sophisticated. You'll also need a large variety of liquors and mixers. And don't forget the garnishes! Cocktail lounges are known for their creative and beautiful cocktails. So, be sure to have a menu that will please any fan.

Some considerations for your cocktail bar include:

  • Do you want to focus on classic cocktails or creative concoctions? : Maybe you have themed cocktails based on zodiac signs or seasons?

  • Do you want to have a full bar or just a limited selection of liquors? : You'll want to make sure you have enough liquor to make all the cocktails on your menu.

  • What kind of garnishes will you use? : Cocktail lounges are known for their beautiful and creative garnishes. So, be sure to have a menu that will please any fan.

Cocktail bar Example: Sweet Polly

Sweet Polly [10] is a vintage-inspired cocktail lounge located in Brooklyn, New York. The space is cozy and inviting, with plush sofas and a fireplace. And the menu features a variety of classic cocktails and creative concoctions. Guests can also enjoy small bites like oysters, cheeses, and small plates.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it. Our top bar concept ideas inspire you.

Now it's time to get creative and start planning your own bar concept.

Choosing your bar concept is definitely the fun part of launching a bar. Just remember to focus on creating a space that is comfortable and inviting. And be sure to have a menu that will please any fan.

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