Meeting friends for drinks is always fun, but your event can be even more memorable if you turn it into a bar crawl. This event gives you and your friends the opportunity to explore your city, visit several bars, and sample different drinks in one festive evening. Add a theme, and you will create an occasion that you’ll talk about for years to come.
Planning the perfect bar crawl doesn’t require any experience. You simply need to do some research to design your game plan and have a willing group of friends ready for a night of fun. Paired with this handy checklist, you’ll be able to organize a memorable event.
So, get your creative juices flowing, and start to plan the perfect bar crawl for you and your pals.
1. The Guest List
While you might want to dive right into planning out the bar crawl itself, starting your planning with the guest list is important for a few reasons. First, it gives you a sense of who is interested in this type of event. If you and your pals are usually hitting up bars on the weekends, then this event isn’t much of a departure from your typical social life. However, perhaps you’re out of the bar hopping game and want to dive back into it for the night. In this case, you might want to survey your friends to find out who is up for a night on the town.
Another reason to carve out your guest list first is because it allows you to gauge how big of a group you will have. If you have a large group of 25 or more, you might be able to work with the bars you’re visiting for some discounts or drink specials. Finally, you want to confer with guests when you choose a date to ensure everyone who’s interested can make it. So, start planning with your friends, and go from there.
A bar crawl is a casual event that should be open and inclusive. An intimate dinner party might require you to carefully craft your guest list, but a bar crawl gives you an opportunity to mix social groups. Invite friends, family, neighbors, or even colleagues you socialize with outside of work. A diverse guest list creates an engaging and interesting social dynamic for your event.
2. The Itinerary
Once you’ve gathered support for your bar crawl, it’s time to focus on the logistics. Planning the event itself might seem challenging, but you can make it manageable if you tackle one detail at a time. Follow these tips to create a flawless bar crawl itinerary.
First, decide when you want your bar crawl to be held. Most bar crawls will happen in the evening, but don’t be afraid to be flexible in your timing. If your crowd typically meets up for drinks in the evening, you can stick to your schedule and kick off your bar crawl after dinner. However, if your crew doesn’t stay out late, opt for an earlier start time.
If your bar crawl revolves around a sporting event, for example, you can kick it off when the game starts. Or, consider a happy hour bar crawl that begins around 5 p.m., which allows your guests to head home at an earlier hour. For a happy hour-themed bar crawl, choose at least one establishment that also serves food. Your timing options are limited only by the bars’ operating hours, so be sure to check them as you design an itinerary.
Obviously, choosing the bars for your crawl is an important decision. Consider these factors as you generate your list of bars:
- Proximity: You don’t want to waste too much time in transit from one bar to the next because it cuts down on your opportunity to socialize. Plus, you and your guests will incur additional costs for ride shares or even a party bus if you need transportation. So, focus on entertainment districts where you can visit different bars within a few mile (or even few block) radius.
- Familiarity: Incorporate some tried and true favorites into your itinerary. While a bar crawl presents the opportunity to check out some new places, you also want to include some spots that you know are winners so that everyone has a good time.
- Diversity: Create a diverse set of bars for your crawl, which adds interest and excitement as you hop from one spot to the next. You can check out dive bars, nightclubs, sports bars, pubs, or even breweries during your adventure.
- Accessibility: Make sure the bars you choose are open during your chosen time frame. Also, ensure they’re big enough to support your crowd. A hole-in-the-wall bar can be a fun stop, but if you’re showing up with 40 people, you might quickly overwhelm the space.
- Timing: Decide how much time you want to spend at each bar. Let guests enjoy at least a drink or two, so plan on at least an hour at each spot. Keep that timeframe in mind when you select bars.
Deals and Discounts
When you’re choosing bars, don’t hesitate to contact them with any questions about your bar crawl. Find out what kind of drink specials they offer that night. Ask if they have a cover charge. Keep these numbers in mind when you select bars. If each spot has a $10 cover, for example, the price of the crawl is going to add up quickly for your guests.
Ask about any discounts your group can receive. You can request a reduced cover charge––or even no cover––if you’re showing up with a big crowd. Ask if the bar can offer any drink specials, such as $1 off mixed drink or a specialty cocktail especially for your crew. Finally, if the bar has any private party rooms, consider booking them or requesting them so that your crowd has plenty of space to gather.
3. The Theme
Your bar crawl can be as simple or as creative as you make it. Giving your event a theme only adds to the festivity. Your theme options are endless, so start generating ideas with these categories as inspiration.
If a holiday is coming up, it’s a simple and seasonal theme for your event. For example, if you’re hosting a pub crawl in July, encourage guests to dress in their most patriotic attire. A December pub crawl calls for holiday finest, whether you opt for cocktail party attire or tacky Christmas gear. This theme encourages guests to get in the holiday spirit while gathering with friends.
Everyone has a favorite character from a book or movie. Let them dress like a character they love––or love to hate––at your pub crawl. You can leave this theme open ended, or you can provide more specifics to guide your guests’ choices. For example, if all of your guests are coming with a date, everyone can dress as their favorite couple from a book or a movie. A heroes and villains theme can draw inspiration from books, TV shows, or movies.
Make your group stand out at every bar by dressing in coordinating attire. Here are a few festive ideas, but use your group’s interests as inspiration:
- We’ve Got Spirit: Big sports fans? Show your true colors by encouraging guests to dress in their favorite team gear. This theme works well if you’ll be hitting up sports bars on game day. Just be prepared for some good-natured rivalries to form.
- Decades of Fun: Choose a decade as your inspiration, whether your crew is dressed in groovy ‘60s attire, rocks some big-haired ‘80s looks, or goes a little grunge for a ‘90s event. You’ll have no trouble picking out your partygoers when you’re all dressed from another era.
- Ahoy Matey: Throwing together a pirate costume is simple with clothes you already have around the house. Host a pirate-themed pub crawl to get everyone on deck for a good time.
4. Finalize the Details
Once your itinerary is created and the guest list is made, it’s time to nail down the details for your pub crawl. Don’t forget these essentials:
- Send out a formal invitation. While you don’t have to send paper invitations for your pub crawl, you do want the details communicated with your guests. Send a group text or email, or create a private event on social media, which gives guests a chance to interact before the big night.
- Coordinate transportation. Consider carpooling to the first bar with some of your guests so that not everyone has to drive. Encourage ride sharing among guests since they’ll be enjoying some drinks.
- Send out the itinerary in advance. Once you have the details finalized, share a detailed itinerary with guests. Include the names of the bars, their location, and the times so that guests know when it’s time to make their way to the next establishment.
A bar crawl has everything you want for a fun night out: friends, drinks, and themed costumes. With detailed planning, you’ll host a successful event that your friends will love.