When it comes to stocking your bar inventory, one of the most important factors is finding cool bar food ideas. Great bar foods are a great companion to cocktail drinks, all red wine types, and all the beer brands you serve. They’ll also give customers something more than drinks to look forward to at your bar or speakeasy. Any of the helpful bar books you have on hand will agree.
Your cool bar food ideas could be centered around a theme or aesthetic of your bar. You could also draw from local inspiration and cuisine. Ultimately, your inspiration can come from anywhere, as long as you have a cook who can make it happen.
10 Cool Bar Food Ideas
Finding cool bar food ideas, and more importantly, unique bar food ideas, is tough–especially if you’re focusing on learning how to start a bar, how to get a liquor license, and other items on your bar to-do list. By the time you’re ready to open your doors, coming up with great food to serve can get lost in other activities.
To help you along, we at BinWise have pulled together 10 cool bar food ideas that will work for any bar. You can mix these up for your bar theme, or serve them up as is. You can even draw from them for inspiration and come up with something completely new-like a unique burger to make of a lamb wine pairing.
10. Bacon Burgers
A bacon burger is a classic for any bar, pub, or restaurant. For vegetarians or vegans, there are bean burgers and mock meat options like pea protein, tempeh, and tofu. For those who want something extra, you can include barbecue sauce. However you grill it, you can’t go wrong with a bacon burger with any drink or side.
9. Customizable Mashed Potatoes
Folks going out for a night on the town are often looking for comfort foods to enjoy. You can bring the taste of home to your bar with customizable mashed potatoes. You can have set additions patrons can choose from, including:
- Bacon bits
- Cheeze, which is the preferred spelling of vegan cheese for anyone avoiding dairy.
- Asparagus tips
…or really anything else that tastes good with potatoes. From there, your customers can place an order and receive a bowl of home-cooked delights.
Nachos are another one of the cool bar food ideas you simply can’t go wrong with. You can make them with just cheese. You can toss on jalapenos, sauces, tomatoes, and other ingredients to make them loaded nachos. For a happy hour deal, you can pair them with a great margarita recipe. There’s no wrong way to enjoy nachos.
7. Onion Rings
You won’t persuade every bar patron with onion rings–or at least, not with the whole onion ring. There are folks who don’t love onions, but no one can resist some fried dough. If you want to make this truly a special offer, you can also sell plain fried circles or other fried treats like pickles.
6. Cheese Fries
Cheese fries are a classic in every bar, bowling alley, and casual diner. Whether you’re serving up curly fries with cheese for dipping, or shoestring fries with a cheesy top, cheese fries are sure to please. You can also make them exceptional by using locally-sourced cheese. Dive into dairy wholesale practices and dairy farming to find the best cheese options.
5. Chips and Dips
Chips and dips are one of the most versatile items on this list. The range of dips and chips available is so vast that there’s something you can serve up for every customer. You can find chip and dip combinations that match other menu items, or you can switch it up month-to-month for a surprise for new customers.
Tacos aren’t just for Tuesdays at your bar. Of course, you can celebrate Taco Tuesday and serve up tacos as a cool bar food ideas deal. However, there’s never a time when tacos won’t be a big seller. The individual ingredients are inexpensive for you. You can also add your own flavor choices to them to make them stand out from all the other taco options.
3. Wing Varieties
Wing varieties are another menu choice with endless potential. From buffalo wings to chicken wings, there’s a type for everyone. From there, you can pick sauces. A few you can’t go wrong with are:
- Lemon pepper
- Chili garlic
Wings can be served up on an appetizer list or served as a main course. Either way, they’re a great addition to any menu.
Pizza is a classic food for any setting, and it’s especially well-suited to bars. Pizza mixes well with wine, beers, and cocktails, and it can satisfy any of your guests. You can serve single slices, or even make specialty pizzas of different sizes. You can even make a pizza-themed bar and arrange your space around pizza enjoyment.
1. Make-Your-Own Sandwiches
When we say make-your-own-sandwiches, we don’t exactly mean Subway, but this number one option was inspired by the customizable nature of Subway sandwiches. There are unlimited ways you can make a sandwich. When it comes to cool bar food ideas, a sandwich is one of the most versatile.
On any given night you’re sure to get dozens of customers wanting a variety of sandwiches. Giving them the option to choose from a selection of different fillings, sauces, and sides will bring a smile to their faces.
Happy Hour Bar Food Ideas
Among all the bar food ideas you can cook up, some of the best ones are happy hour bar food ideas. Happy hour bar food ideas are typically a mix of appetizers (including Mexican food appetizers) and tapas suited to the a la carte meaning. They’re easily shared, and just filling enough to mix with drinks, without filling people up before dinner.
Happy hour themes and specials can be variations of menu types and menu items you already sell. There’s nothing wrong with drawing from the previous list of bar food ideas for your happy hour specials. However, the time limitation of happy hour means you can color outside the lines if you want to.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cool Bar Food Ideas
As your bar grows, you’ll change up your menu and find more things to learn. Our answers to these questions will help you learn more and discover the connection between great bar food and a successful, profitable bar business.
What Are the Most Popular Bar Foods?
Overall, the most popular bar foods are burgers, fries, sandwiches, finger foods like pretzels and nuts, and healthier options like salads. Of course, the most popular bar foods will depend on the bar, the patrons, and the skills of the cook.
What Is the Most Profitable Bar Food?
The most profitable bar food is the menu items that keep people ordering more. Items like fries, wings, fried pickles, and chips and dip will consistently bring in profits. People are likely to place several orders for the table, and potentially order more throughout the meal. Also, people who come in for just a drink will often end up purchasing these sides as well.
How Do I Make a Bar Food Menu?
Creating a bar food menu is as easy as sorting out your pricing and designing each section to draw people in. There are skills, such as menu engineering analysis and how to price a menu, to build when setting up a great menu.
Cool Bar Food Ideas: Get Cooking!
When it comes to finding the best cool bar food ideas for your bar, this list will come in handy. However, you can also lean on your own creativity. There aren’t many limits to bar food ideas if you’re open to experimenting. You can work closely with your cook, or you can even poll your customers to find menu items they’d love to try. That’ll increase your great customer service.
If you’re looking for more specific ideas on wine food pairing options or menu items, the BinWise blog has you covered. We’re known to enjoy a variety of foods with different drinks. We’re here to lend that experience towards helping you find the best foods for your bar.