Research by Social Tables found that more than 90% of event planners agree that events are more likely to be booked in a non-traditional venue than five years ago. Some of the most common reasons for this is that event organizers are seeking more authentic experiences or more unique destinations that reflect a local culture or atmosphere.
When some convention centers, hotel ballrooms, or other traditional spaces can be destination-centric, few venues are as tapped into the local scene as a bar or pub.
Here’s what to look for when selecting the right bar for your gathering.
Try a Brewery, Taphouse, Winery, or Distillery
Most major cities and many suburban destinations are home to at least a few local purveyors of beer, wine, or spirits. Guests love these destinations because they’re unique and memorable. Event planners should like them because there is often great value to be had.
These operations typically need large buildings to house their equipment, which means they generally have a lot of extra space to accommodate big groups. Some even have their food & beverage offerings built into the business.
This makes event planning at these venues simple because there is typically a nice discount on whatever the brewery, winery, or distillery produces. If they already have a matching menu, you know it pairs well with the beverages being served.
Rent Out the Rooftop
In cities across the country, rooftop venues are “the” place to be. The best rooftop bars in the U.S. are known for delivering amazing views, handcrafted cocktails, and signature decor but they’re not the only cities where rooftop bars are popular. Many downtown hotels in big and medium-sized cities alike have added rooftop or elevated outdoor bars and patios that can be reserved exclusively for special events.
Like any bar, the beverage service and liquor license concerns are already handled for events.
In some cases, apartments, condos, or office buildings may also have rooftop spaces available for private gatherings. These can also be good options, though keep in mind you may have to organize your own food & beverage, staffing and rentals in these instances.
Live it Up at a Live Music Venue
What do bars in New York, Chicago, Nashville, Los Angeles, Miami, Kansas City, and New Orleans all have in common? They’re all known for having live music regularly. That means entertainment is one less thing you have to organize.
You’ll want to book these venues well in advance, especially if you want the place all to yourselves as the acts booked may require a certain number of patrons in their contract and/or portion of the bar sales from the night.
Score Big with a Sports Bar
Today’s Top Sports Bars around the country aren’t just about huge TVs and lots of beers on tap (though they have that too). They also offer a wide selection of other entertainment that ranges from video games, to axe throwing, billiards, bowling, mini golf, or sports-themed challenges. Many have also seriously upped their culinary game beyond plain hot dogs and fried mozzarella sticks and now offer gourmet options like tuna tartare or even sushi.
Sports bars make great venues for casual events like team building, work anniversaries, and, of course, sponsorships of local sports teams. Alumni associations, fan clubs, and season-ticket holders during away games all flock to sports bars, and playoff and championship games get even bigger crowds.
Like live music venues, the key to organizing an event at a sports bar is planning at least TK-NUMBER months/weeks in advance – particularly when big sports games are happening on the proposed day of your event.
If you’re looking to plan alongside a major sporting event like the World Cup or Super Bowl, see if the bar can organize pre-mixed pitchers of drinks and/or pre-plated appetizers that are ready and waiting when you get to the venue for easy serving quickly.. You can also ask if there’s a way to have a dedicated server or two (or more) for your group. Make sure you tip accordingly, as wait staff do not typically receive the full rate a catering waiter might at a traditional venue.
Want your next event to be toast-worthy? VIBE knows the hottest spots in town for coming together with good drinks, food, entertainment, and company. Contact us today for recommendations and help planning in your city of choice.