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Sarah Ward

Best Bars: 14 Bar Location and Layout Key Creative Ideas

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The best bars-from the 50 best bars to the top 10-all generally have a few things in common that put them high on the list of how much bars make. They’re in the perfect location-maybe an old speakeasy location, and their layout-including their liquor bottle display and craft cocktails setup, and overall design (with some bar layout tips for an efficient bar setup) is inviting and comfortable.

Now, when it comes to your bar, bar location and layout may not be things you have complete control over. Maybe you’re locked into a lease in a spot that’s a little ways away from the hottest downtown locations. Perhaps you're working with a space that would be more suited to banquet table setup ideas. Maybe you’re in an old building that you can’t change much about for bar equipment layout. You can't guarantee having a spot like the top 25 Michelin Star restaurants.

You might think there’s not a lot you can do to work with your bar location and layout. You’d be wrong about that. There’s always something you can do to make your space work for you. 

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Bar Locations

For bar locations, it may be that you’re stuck in a certain area that isn't necessarily the best place for a bar. Maybe you’re in a location that is so saturated with bars-like New York City or LA-you need something truly unique to make your bar stand out (this can also happen when you're buying a winery). If you’re just now looking to become a bar owner, be sure to check out locations and let that factor into your decision. You may be looking to open a new bar, or you could already be in a location. Either way, there’s a lot you can do to choose a good location or make the most of the location you're in. 

7 Best Bar Locations

For ideas on where to start your bar or how to work with the location you’re in, check out some of the best bar spots. These best bars might currently be in great areas, or they might be leveraging the areas they're in. In the US and worldwide, there are bars that are in prime locations. There are also bars that have situated their designs and marketing strategies to make the most of their locations. These top seven bars have done some great work with making their locations be a major contributing factor in the success of their bars. 

7: Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge

Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, located in a cozy Milwaukee neighborhood, is proclaimed as Milwaukee’s oldest cocktail bar or lounge. This gorgeous cocktail lounge is, on the inside, plush, dressed to the nines, and, there’s no other word for it, swanky. However, that’s just on the inside. The outside is a charming old Milwaukee house. As far as making any location work for a great bar, Bryant’s has done something absolutely amazing. They've made a charming old house into a charming, upscale cocktail lounge. 

6: Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, the oldest bar in New Orleans, was built to be a great location, as it was originally a true blacksmith shop. It’s also rumored to have been run by pirates. This little bar is on the list for everyone who travels to New Orleans. When you’re choosing your bar location, you might not be lucky enough to have the oldest place in the city. However, if you’re able to find a building with some historical significance you’ll be in a prime spot no matter what. 

5: Library Bar

The Library Bar in downtown Los Angeles has done what many would say is nearly impossible in LA. It’s made something truly unique in a packed place location wise. Every spot - map wise - is a hot spot in LA. In order to make something exceptional in any location, a bar needs to be truly unique-from classic cocktails to the food menu to live music, everything is an option for something special. The Library Bar has done just that, with bringing in true library vibes from the bookshelves to the literary drinks. The Library Bar is evidence that any location can be a great one if you know what you’re doing with your bar.

4: The Castle Bar Pub Restaurant

As far as stunning locations go, if you can find a truly unique spot, your bar will be a hit. This is particularly true for The Castle Bar Pub Restaurant in Cockermouth, UK. The Castle Bar isn’t actually in a castle. It is, however, a truly old building, originally made in several styles reminiscent of times when castles were still being built. A lot of places in the UK have the benefit of being in older buildings. These old locations are less prevalent in the US, but having your bar in an older location will draw curious crowds.

3: Cabin Tavern

In terms of old buildings being great for bars, the Cabin Tavern in Anchorage, Alaska is an old dive bar with a moss roof. It takes patrons back to the oldest cabins in Alaska. The Cabin Tavern is a hot spot for Anchorage residents. It brings back memories of any camping experiences, and it provides a calm respite from the bustle of the city. 

2: Ministry of Brewing

As unique locations go, it doesn’t get much more unique than an old church. That’s exactly what the Ministry of Brewing in Baltimore found when they searched for their perfect spot for craft beer. The brewery kept the structure and in fact, many of the key details of the church intact. Instead of pews, however, there are bar tables, and the brewing equipment has the place of honor on the pulpit. If you’re opening a bar and have the option to start it in an old unique structure, you’ll be off to a great start.

1: Comfort Station

And, similar to Bryant’s, the last highlighted bar is Comfort Station in Cincinnati, which has the outward appearance of, well, to be frank, a bathroom. The outside of Comfort Station features two doors, with men and women signs above the doors. If you didn’t know it was there, you’d miss it as a bar. And frankly, this simple and slightly deceptive appearance is what makes Comfort Station the hit that it is. If you want to make a bar into a place that people simply have to visit, a bit of mystery is a great choice. 

Bar Design

The best bar design ideas are always built around aesthetics-like art deco-and functionality. The aesthetics should always be something that any customer can enjoy. That said, the bar owner and designer have quite a bit of freedom in choosing their bar aesthetics (and choosing how to display liquor and liquor storage techniques to avoid aesthetic distractions with your types of rum). When it comes to your bar design ideas, there’s often only so much you can do due to construction and structural constraints. That said, you still have options. You can look at what other bars have done with limited options to find new ideas for your bar. 

7 Best Bar Designs

If you’re not sure where to start with your bar design ideas, choosing a theme you want to embody is a good starting point. Your bar design might be restricted to fitting around the architecture of your bar, but if that’s the case, don’t let that stop you. In fact, some of the most creative bar designs are ones that use the bar architecture to their advantage. Strategizing your bar design can also help prevent the common dine and dash. These top seven bars with creative designs will give you an idea of what you can do with your bar. 

7: The Carousel Bar & Lounge

Some of the best bar design ideas include putting the design of the bar into the name. The Carousel Bar & Lounge in the Hotel Monteleone fits that bill. It's a rotating carousel bar that’s been around for over 70 years. The Carousel does serve great drinks. However, the thing that keeps it on the forefront of the best spots in New Orleans is the one-of-a-kind design.

6: The Wreck Bar

The Wreck Bar in Florida takes themed design to the underwater level. This maritime themed spot features an underwater feature with merpeople entertainment. As far as themed bars go, The Wreck Bar is on the extreme end of the spectrum-beyond even a tiki bar. You don’t have to hire people to play the part of merpeople to make your bar design the best it can be. However, doing something a little bit out there will draw in the crowds.

5: The Coffin Club

This horrifically amazing bar in Portland, The Coffin Club, draws in all manner of patrons due to its commitment to its horror theme. While this spot may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there are so many horror aficionados out there. They will travel all the way to Portland just to see this spooky spot. Your design can be pretty much anything you’d like it to be. However, designing your bar around something you know a lot of people love is a good place to start.

4: The Airplane Restaurant

Technically, The Airplane Restaurant in Colorado fits in the bar location and layout sections of this article. This spot is aviation themed. It takes that theme to the next level with an actual, retired Boeing KC-97 tanker serving as the building of the bar. This may be out of reach for many bar owners, however it’s a staple of the practice of building around the design of your bar.

3: The Chandelier

The Chandelier bar in The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas has designed their bar to a level beyond what anyone would expect. They even exceed expectations of Valentine’s day promotion ideas for restaurants. When you get a drink at The Chandelier, you’re literally in and under a larger-than-life chandelier. The Chandelier is on the extremely large scale. That said, the practice of creating a work of art that is a function of your bar is something every bar can do. 

2: The SafeHouse

The SafeHouse in Milwaukee is another truly one-of-a-kind bar in terms of design. Every inch of The SafeHouse is themed around spies and the spy lifestyle. When I say every inch, I mean it. From the bar to the bathrooms to the hidden passages, everything in this amazing spot says “we’re a place for spies.” When patrons visit this spot, they feel like they’re undercover agents. When it comes to great bar design, it doesn’t get better than inspiring your guests to take on the theme within themselves. 

1: The Spirit Room

The Spirit Room in Rochester takes the meaning of a themed design to another world - the spirit world to be exact. This occult themed bar offers cocktails and readings, with references to the occult in every level of the design. The Spirit Room is further evidence, no, not of the presence of spirits. It is evidence of the effect a great, consistent theme can have on the success of a bar. 

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Bar Location and Layout Frequently Asked Questions

You may be looking to open a bar, curious about the area your bar is in, or just looking to visit a great bar. Either way, there are some frequently asked questions about bar location and layout that might be on the tip of your tongue. We’ll answer a few of them now.

Where are the best bars?  

The best bar locations vary from state to state, country to country, and city to city. Generally, however, you can find the best bars nearby the tourist areas of a place. Sometimes that's where you'll find the oldest bars in America. These edges of the most popular places are great for bars. They can be more affordable but still within walking distance of everything visitors want to do and see. 

How do I design a restaurant bar?

In looking at some of the most popular bars that are famous through designs, it’s clear that a good design is often theme based. Choosing a theme is a great idea. Even if you want something classic, a few statements in design is a good way to draw attention and make your bar stand out. You can also draw some inspiration from a classic bar operations manual.

How do location and layout affect bar profits?

Setting your bar up to attract customers through location leverage and design elements will directly affect your bar profitability. It'll help you bring in more customers.

Bar Location and Layout Ideas: Designing Your Bar

When it comes to choosing your bar location and layout, the most important factor is the specific nature of your bar (example: if you're a wine bar you'll need to know all aboutwine bottle displays). You can draw from all these examples for ideas on the direction you might want to go in. However, the best bar location and layout for you and your bar will be very dependent on your bar plans. It's all about what works best for you and your patrons.

One thing that's guaranteed to work for you is BinWise. Our inventory software, including our barcode scanner app for inventory, will make every aspect of running your bar easier.

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