9 Seemingly Small Details That Make a Bar So Much Better

A bar, by nature, is a wonderful place. I am specifically qualified to speak on this, as I spend a fair share of my time in bars. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s the little things that can make a big difference in a bar’s atmosphere and the patrons’ experience. What may seem like minor details actually set some places apart from the others. Here’s a list of the the little things that stand out most to me.

1. Offering A Current Beer List – In Print
A visible list of any kind is nice but I can’t always see your chalkboard, especially if it’s busy. Pass me a paper copy of your menu and I’m a happy girl – that is, unless I get excited about a beer only to order it and find out that it kicked last week. If you’re going to give menus out, you have to try to keep them current. I know it’s a lot of paper – which is why I really enjoyed it when the guys at Donnelly’s Public House handed me a list on a tablet.
Beer List

2. Purse & Coat Hooks
I live in Buffalo, NY – a place where you’re likely to be wearing layers and some kind of outerwear nine months out of the year. Having a proper coat hook is a huge plus.
Bar Hooks

3. Using the Proper Glassware (Or at Least Trying To)
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that there’s a lot of glassware out there and I don’t expect every corner bar to invest in a supply of goblets and snifters. At the same time, it’s always nice when my red wine comes in a red wine glass and a Belgian beer is served in a tulip. If you need a reference to help you know what’s what, check out our glassware guide

4. Good Music
This one shouldn’t really need explanation. If it’s not a jukebox with great options, it’s a Pandora station, a live band, or a playlist on your phone with a great set of speakers. Regardless, there’s nothing worse than settling a depressing local newscast as your background noise when you’re out to have a good time.

5. A Place to Rest Your Feet
You might not think about bar foot rails much but if you ever find yourself in a bar without one, you’ll know it. We take them for granted and they do make quite a difference.

6. Things to Do
Ever been in an awkward social situation? How about on a blind date? There’s nothing that breaks the ice quite like a game of darts, air hockey, or pool. When there’s nothing to do but stare at each other, things can get even weirder.
bar darts

7. Clean Bathrooms
I’m not uppity but I do prefer my restrooms as filth-free as possible. Half of the time the bar bathroom is flooded, has tons of pee on the seat, is out of toilet paper, or looks to be a breeding ground for the craziest of diseases. A usable restroom is always a pleasant surprise – and it’s definitely one of those little things that just might keep me coming back.

bar bathroom

Note: This is NOT a clean bathroom

8. Friendly Bar Staff
Quick, knowledgable, friendly bar staff is obviously preferable but even if they’re slow and/or don’t know what they’re doing, being friendly goes a long way. No one likes a miserable barkeep.

9. Keeping Bitters Behind the Pine
The Manhattan is a pretty common drink, at least common enough that every bar should have at least one bottle of aromatic bitters on hand to make one. You’d be amazed at how many bars and restaurants I’ve visited that not only didn’t have bitters but also didn’t have any clue what I was asking for.

If there’s anything I missed, please feel free to add to this list via the comments! Happy bar hopping.

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