If you like to visit bars frequently, you might notice that it’s the little things that make a difference. Here are a few things, from The Spain Event, that can help to make a great bar.
Barstools can be comfortable, but they can also be backache-inducing. If you spend long enough hunched up on badly designed barstools you will feel the pain of clunky, cumbersome and wobbly seating. Some bars have seats so bad you wonder why they offer them, it would be better to stand! There are some great stools out there, though. East Village’s DBGB is a good example. Some modern clubs offer stools with storage underneath so you don’t have to worry about your coat falling off those silly hooks.
The design of the bar can make a big difference, too. Old pubs often left the bar as an afterthought. It’s not enough to just stick up a block of wood at elbow level and hope for the best. Bars should be a part of the setting. They don’t have to be hardwood. They can be granite, steel or whatever suits the setting. The point is that there needs to be enough space for your food and drink, and for you to socialise, but it still needs to feel like an intimate spot.
Some bars offer a huge selection of drinks, some have a smaller selection. As long as there’s enough variety that you can find something you’ll like, there’s not much difference between a diverse group selected for quality or a huge list. What matters is that you know what’s on offer. If it’s written on the wall at the other side of a crowded bar and the barman won’t help you pick something you’ll enjoy, you’re not off to a good start for your night out.
A traditional paper menu is a nice choice, and yet it’s something that so many bars lack. Some bars refuse to have a menu at all. Yes, wine selections change often and bars like to swap out what’s on tap too. Why not print a general menu and then have a clearly written chalk board with the list of ‘guest’ beverages?
Some drinks do taste better when they’re served in a specific type of pint glass or tumbler. Even if you aren’t a snob when it comes to glassware you will probably notice the difference in how certain drinks taste when they are served in a glass that captures the aroma correctly.
Another thing that often gets overlooked is ice. The size and shape of the ice that your cocktail is served with will make a difference to how the cocktail tastes. There is no excuse for badly made drinks with hotel ice machine ‘cubes’ in them. The Gin Joint in Charleston gets ice right, using an industrial machine that makes huge ice blocks, which are then broken down by hand to suit the cocktail in question. That might seem oddly pretentious, but once you have had the joy of tasting a cocktail that has the perfect kind of ice in it you will really appreciate the difference.
It’s hard to keep public bathrooms clean, that’s true. Even so, there is no excuse for the dirty ‘dive bar’ bathrooms that are still far too common these days. There are some bars in Europe that have self-cleaning toilets that are super high-tech and a joy to use. Or, at least as much of a joy as you can expect from “going to the toilet in a public bar”. More bars need to adopt that model. Nobody wants to get sick because they used a dirty toilet.