April 7, 2018

Ready to shake up profits and stir customer loyalty? The secret ingredient is…your own crew of bartenders. These 17 bar games and entertainment ideas put bartenders front and centre – while they work their magic behind the bar.

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Put Fun on Their Tab

These bar games and entertainment ideas “gamify” the ordering process, delighting guests with every drink.

1) Card Night – A Total Joke

Every bartender gets a stack of cards. With each order, they flip the card for the guest. Red=no discount. Black=$1 off any drink. If the bartender gets the joker? They’ve gotta tell their best joke to the guest!

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2) Take the Wheel

You can score a customizable prize wheel to use for your bar games and entertainment – for less than $100. You’re your bartenders, brainstorm discounts and bar tricks to put on the wheel.

3) Mic Check

When it comes to bar games and entertainment, most bartenders have natural charisma. These events let ‘em show it off as the host! Want more ideas for entertainment at your bar? Check out these 18 hottest bar games for 2018.

4) Standup Night

First, let your bartenders step up to the mic and tell their own jokes first to warm up the crowd. While some will have ready-made jokes, others will need a bit of a boost. Use these 50 tricks to create a better stand-up experience.

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5) Midweek Trivia Night

Got a bartender who can do a great Alex Trebek impression? (Better yet, can they impersonate Will Ferrell doing his Alex Trebek impression on “Saturday Night Live”?). You’ve got yourself a built-in trivia host for a Buzztime live trivia night.

Trivia night is hands down one of the most popular bar games and entertainment options for guests. Buzztime gives you everything you need to let your OWN staff host the game – and bond with guests: from endless trivia questions to handheld tablets for automatic scoring. Put Buzztime live trivia on the top of your bar games and entertainment list…STAT.

6) BINGO!

Yes, it’s great grandma’s favorite activity. But bingo is also big news for younger customers who like the laid back, retro vibe of bingo. Great prizes will also sweeten the deal with bingo-based bar games and entertainment.
This is another great opportunity to play up your bartenders’ acting abilities. Find a bartender who can imitate an auctioneer, an old lady or a rapper, and brand your bingo night around their character. Costumes encouraged!

7) Karaoke on the Cheap

You could splurge on software that displays lyrics on your TVs. Or, just hook up a mic and blast the background music (you can find instrumentals of popular songs on YouTube). Then, customers can look up the words on their phones.

The key here is a great bartender host to get the crowd pumped up early in the night. Have a couple of bartenders step up to the mic too – especially if their voices are less than amazing.

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8) Storytellers or Poetry Open Mic

#Awkward. No one was at their best in middle school, but everyone loves those embarrassing stories. Ask bartenders to submit an awkward childhood story to read at an open mic night. Customers can get in on the fun, too. Rotate the storytelling theme each month. For tips on storytelling, check out The Moth.

You could even bring in local writers to judge performers (offer winners a gift card, of course). Poetry slams are also trending as far as “literary” bar games and entertainment go.

9) Let the Battle Begin!

So, friendly competition between patrons in a round of trivia is one way to win at bar games and entertainment. But these creative ideas turn guests into spectators. Guess what they’ll be watching? Your bartenders battling it out in these competitive bar games and entertainment.

10) Trick or Treat

Sounds like a Halloween promotion, right? It could be, but these ideas for bar games and entertainment are meant for year-round fun. Have customers select 3 moves from a list of flair tricks. Then, host a performance night so patrons can pick their favorite moves performed by your bartenders.

If the sweet moves of your bartenders go over well with the crowd? Consider signing them up for a bar flair training course so they can really shine. 

11) Mystery Ingredient Shot Showdown

These bar games and entertainment ideas are inspired by a popular cooking show. Four chef contestants on this show must cook 3 courses from a basket of mystery ingredients – within minutes. After judges taste each dish, one contestant is eliminated until there is one chef standing.

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Instead, turn your guests into judges – and let them submit mystery ingredient ideas on social media. On showdown night, select a few crazy ingredients from the submissions. From siracha sauce to bacon, apple pie to Skittles…the wilder the better.

  • Announce the mystery ingredient.
  • Give bartenders 10 minutes to incorporate that ingredient into a delicious cocktail made in a large shaker or pitcher.
  • Their creation can be served in shot glasses so everyone gets a taste of these bar games and entertainment.
  • Then, guests vote on who will be eliminated…
  • Treat the winning bartender to a paycheck bonus – and brag about their skills on social media.

12) Charity Tipoff (+5 Reasons to Launch Bar Games and Entertainment with Heart)

Ask each bartender to select a local charity of their choice. Then, one night a month, host a “charity tipoff” where 100% of tips go to each charity. (You’ll want to pad your staff’s pay that night to compensate).  Instruct them to wear their charity’s hat or t-shirt so guests know which charity they are tipping to. Building bar games and entertainment around charitable causes pays off, here’s why:

  • You’re showing customers you care about local causes which can increase loyalty.
  • The non-profit you support will talk up your bar for added exposure.
  • Many charitable donations are tax deductible (check with your CPA).
  • Staff recruitment and retention: One study showed that 87% of millennials choose where to work based on a company’s community efforts.
  • Build teamwork: Bringing your staff together over charitable bar games and entertainment boosts morale.

13) Classic Cocktail Mix-off

Bar games and entertainment put your bartenders in the limelight for a reason: showing off their skills reminds your guests that they’re in the right place! You’ve got the best team behind the bar. Another way to prove it?

Host a monthly cocktail mix-off. Each month, pick a classic drink – from gin gimlets to the Manhattans. Then, task bartenders to put their own twist on the cocktail. Advertise a mix-off night, and let customers vote on their favorites with raffle tickets. The drink with the most tickets becomes next month’s special.

14) Clever T-Shirt Contest

As one of your bar games and entertainment featuring bartenders, invite them to each submit a slogan or t-shirt design to you. Then, post the contending options on Facebook – and let your guests vote on their favorite. Bartenders can sport the shirts and you can sell them for incremental revenue.

15) Get Social with Your Bar Games and Entertainment

Your bartenders are using social media anyway (not during their shift, of course). Why not capitalize on their charisma to boost bar games and entertainment?

16) Go Live Already!

Whatever bar games and entertainment you run, you’ve gotta do one thing: press record on your smartphone!

Broadcast the live action from your bar to Facebook to show everyone else at home (or that bar across town) what they’re missing. While Facebook changed their algorithm in early 2018, making it a little harder for businesses to reach customers, Facebook Live is one surefire way to be seen.

Facebook itself said live videos are seen 6x more than regular videos. So…go LIVE! Make it your mantra when hosting bar games and entertainment.

17) Secret Password

Have one bartender post his or her shift times for the week on Facebook, along with a key word, to their personal social media accounts. Followers can unlock a discount, a secret cocktail or other fun extra. These bar games and entertainment turn your bartenders into brand advocates: spreading the word about your bar among their personal network.

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18) Guess the Pet

Guests will say “woof” to these pet-friendly bar games and entertainment. From Facebook to Instagram, social media users create posts on their dogs about six times a week. That’s a ridiculous amount of paw time – and a great opportunity for you. Create a gallery of all of your bartenders’ pets (cats, dogs, parrots, you get it). Then, let guests guess which pets belong to which bartender in the comments on Facebook. If a guest gets more than half right, they can score a gift card.

There’s only one rule for running bar games and entertainment starring your bartenders: they’ve got to be on board! Ask for their ideas and input. Together, you can launch bar games and entertainment that will bring in guests – and keep ‘em coming back.

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