15 Bar Events Ideas
Staying Competitive: 15 Bar Events and Promotions
Bars need to stay relevant in order to stay competitive and keep attracting customers.
Let’s face it: your bar could look amazing, but if you don’t have customers then looking amazing isn’t going to count for much. As a bar owner or manager, one of your biggest challenges is to not only attract new customers, but to keep your existing customers coming back. You’ve got to provide a reason for them to want to hang out at your bar, aside from just offering a place to share drinks with friends or dance the night away.
This reason can come in the form of interesting bar events or enticing bar promotions.
So, you’ll need to do a little brainstorming to come up with a series of promotions and bar events to bring in the kind of customers you want.
MORE CUSTOMERS = BIGGER PROFIT
Before you even begin to draw up a list of ideas, though, you’ll need to think about the type of establishment you’re running, where it’s located and exactly what kind of people you’re hoping to attract.
In order to figure out what sort of bar events you should host, you must first consider what you are working with:
Is it a neighborhood pub?
Is it a sports bar?
Is it a concept bar?
Is it in a hotel?
Is it a dance club?
Does it cater mostly to college students, or some other age range?
Does it cater to a particular lifestyle?
Hosting a Pay Per View sports event may work in a sports bar, a neighborhood pub, or even a hotel bar, for example, but it likely wouldn’t work for a dance club.
Likewise, having a theme night or hosting guest DJs might work for a dance club, but it would have no place in a sports bar.
So you see, not every promotion or bar event idea will work in every type of bar.
Coming up with new bar events ideas to promote your bar each month is never easy, so we’ve put together a list of what has worked for us in the past in order to help you take some of the guesswork out of the job.
These bar events and promotional ideas will help you add a little spice to your venue, so that you can attract more customers and end up with a wider profit margin at the end of the month.
Try what you think will work for your bar, or maybe just use these bar events ideas as inspiration to help you come up with your own.
As a side note, you’ll notice that a few of the ideas offered below focus on food. This is because the liquor laws in many parts of the world make it difficult to offer discounted liquor. In Ontario, for example, the practice of offering discounted alcohol during “happy hour” was banned in 1984 because the provincial government there felt that offering discounted drinks put far too many intoxicated drivers on the road.
Bar Event and Bar Promotion Ideas to Boost Your Bottom Line
If you’re handy with tools, a shooter paddle is something you can make yourself. All you need are planks of wood that are 3-6ft long and about 1/2″ thick. You’ll need to drill some holes big enough so that your shot glasses fit in but don’t slide right through, with equal spacing between the holes. Then, paint your logo on them and varnish the whole thing.
A shooter paddle can be made to accommodate 6 to 12 shots. You can make a few different sizes, to offer your customers a choice. If you aren’t handy with tools, or you just want something that looks a little more polished, you can purchase Paddle Shotz through our online store.
Holidays can be made into popular bar events, and popular holiday bar events practically beg for a signature cocktail. Every time there is a holiday (Halloween, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, the Super Bowl), try to create a signature cocktail for it. In the case of St. Patrick’s Day, a lot of pubs take the easy route and serve green beer. Why not shake things up a little and create something your customers will love? You can find a list of cocktail recipes for all the major holidays and popular events here.
Food & Drink Combos
You can use food to draw customers in for your bar events. Try tying your food specials to drinks. For example, you could think about offering $0.20 tacos when customers order a pitcher of beer, or $0.15 wings with a pint of beer, or a $3 salad with the purchase of a cocktail. Instead of offering discounted drinks for Happy Hour, you can try offering discounted appetizers to draw your customers in.
Pairing Food with Sports Specials
Any time there is a big sporting event, you can entice customers to your bar event by adding select food and drink specials to the menu just for that day. For example, you could offer $5 personal pizzas during a UFC match, or $.15 wings during football games.
Shooter of the Day
Create a new shooter recipe every day and promote it as the “Shooter of the Day.” Like the Beers of the World Promotion below, you can give out punch or stamp cards to encourage repeat customers. Every time the customer tries a new shooter, they get a punch or a stamp. After they purchase 10, they get a prize. If you’re a bit stuck for ideas, you can find lots of shooter recipes here.
Beers of the World Promotion
If your beer menu includes a variety of beers from around the world, then you’ve got a promotion pretty much built-in. Likewise, if local brews are a favorite in your town, you could think about doing something with those.
Like the Shooter of the Day promo above, you can offer a different beer each day, and provide customers with a punch or stamp card that allows them to win a prize once they’ve gotten 10 stamps or punches.
There’s a digital option for this, too: you can employ a punchcard app so that customers can use their smartphones instead of carrying around a card.
Animal Sports Races
If you show sporting events, you can ramp up your customers’ energy by offering a little sporting event of your own before the game.
You’ll want something that won’t dart off and wreak havoc in your bar, so mice and rats are right out of the question. We’ve found that turtles or hermit crabs work nicely. You can use water-soluble paint to decorate their shells in each team’s colors. Make sure you set up a mini arena for them to race in. If you race them before the game, the winner will be your predicted winner for the game.
You can also “reset” them each quarter to see if one will come from behind and get to the end zone first.
Sponsoring Local Teams
It’s always good PR to find ways to give back to your community. Find a local sports team, and offer to sponsor them by paying for their jerseys, as long as they agree to meet at your bar after each of their games. Naturally, the jerseys you provide them with would have your bar’s logo on them. You can sweeten the pot for the team by including food and drink specials in the deal. Before long, you’ll find that the team members come back on their days off, and they bring friends or family. More new customers for you!
Sports pools are always popular. You could run football, hockey or basketball pools at your bar to bring in a solid group of regulars who like to come to your bar to watch the games and check their stats. If you don’t want to involve money in the prizes, you’ve still got options:
Promotional items from your beer and alcohol reps
Dinner for two
Super VIP passes
A trip for two
Your customer’s own nameplate on the bar
The list of possibilities goes on and on, if you are creative. Make it something that you would come back over and over again to try and win.
During a special event, try something that will make your bar stand out: an ice shooter luge. These are basically mini luge runs for your shooters. Shooter luges can be made in any shape and, in addition to adding a little of the “wow factor” to your event, they offer a nifty way for your bartender to chill the shooters before they get to the customer. You can either look for a local ice sculptor in your area, or you can buy a reusable shooter luge.
Jello Shot Syringes
You can find a list of jello shot recipes here. Jello Shot Syringes are typically cheaper to make than regular shots and, because it’s a novelty, customers will want to come back and try new flavors every week. You can give it a try one night with the 25 Jello Shot Combo Pack, which even includes a rack for presentation!
A lot of bar contests tend to focus on activities that border on being sexual, or that get bar customers to do silly things.
With that fact in mind, we’ve put together a list of bar contests we’ve had success with in different venues in the past. These contests can be used on their own, or in conjunction with your other bar events.
Hula Hoop Contest
This contest works best later in the evening, when your customers have loosened up a bit and are more willing to show off their hula hoop skills in public. You can either have individuals face off against each other, or you can have pairs work together to keep the hula hoop up. For a bit more of a challenge, you can give contestants tasks to do while they are trying to keep the hula hoop up, such as taking a drink, walking to the bar and back and so on.
The Frozen Lemon
make sure you know the temperament of crowd in your bar, so you can gauge what they’ll find acceptable. Before you start the contest, you’ll need to put a few whole lemons in the freezer overnight. This contest is played with a couple, so you can use an actual couple or a pair of customers randomly chosen from the crowd.
The frozen lemon is placed on the inside of the man’s pant leg. The goal is for the woman to move the lemon- under the clothing- from one leg to the other. Remember: only the women are allowed to use their hands. The winning couple is the one who gets the lemon to the other pant leg first.
Roll and Plunger Contest
The Roll and Plunger Contest is a bit sexual in nature so, like the Frozen Lemon contest, you will want to gauge your audience for appropriateness first. To play it, you will need several couples that are either actual couples or that are chosen randomly from the crowd.
There are 3 rounds in this contest:
Round 1: Have the women stand on one side of the room with a roll of toilet paper between their legs. The men should be standing on the other side of the room, holding a toilet plunger between their legs with the handle out front. The men have to walk over to their partner while holding the plunger between their legs, without losing grip on it and without using their hands to hold it up.
Round 2: This round starts the same, but this time the women must try to hold the toilet paper roll between their legs while walking over to their partners. Again, they can’t use their hands.
Round 3: The name of this round is speed! The object is to see which couple can get the toilet paper roll on the handle of the plunger the fastest, without using their hands at all.
If anyone drops their toilet paper roll or plunger, they have to start again. Once all 3 rounds are finished, announce the winning couple.
Naturally, there are tons of drinking contests you can run, but these can sometimes devolve into contests of who can handle the most alcohol. This is a recipe for disaster! You don’t need the legal hassle that can come with getting your guests severely intoxicated. You certainly don’t want to be on the hook for cleaning up the mess afterward.
If you throw away the drinking contests and stick with food instead, your customers will still have fun and your bar can still enjoy the increased business that comes with your customers having fun. Here are a few examples of popular eating contests:
Hot Dog Eating Contest: Boil a bunch of plain hot dogs for the event. Put them into buns, and hold a contest to see who can eat the most. The prize could be the winning contestant’s drink of choice, dinner for two, or some swag from your beer alcohol reps. .
Banana Eating Contest: This one is for the ladies. You run it the same way you run the hotdog eating contest, except that it uses bananas. You can increase the level of challenge by pairing people up and taking away the use of their hands.
Watermelon Eating Contest: This contest is fun because it’s messy. You can have contestants take part individually, or you can pair them up. In this case, one person would feed the other, and then vice versa.
There are literally hundreds of different bar promotions and bar events that you can run to bring in more customers and increase your revenue. What we’ve provided here is a good place to start, but it really is just a start.
You can follow the links below to find additional bar events ideas. Be sure to leave a comment if you know of some cool bar events and promotion ideas to share with our readers.