Easy Money! The 5 Best Bar Holidays and How to Promote Them

Posted on August 5, 2013
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Bar Holidays

Not everyone needs an excuse to drink. For years bar operators have been relying on non-excuse making Wednesday type drinkers to keep their books in the black. However, there are some occasions on which the semi-drinkers like to come out in droves and the regular drinkers bask in the sweet power of Bacchus with even greater alacrity. These are the red letter days of the bar world, days for which the wise bar owner is well-prepared.

So, what are the best bar holidays?

You’ve probably already got a pretty good idea of what the red letter drankin’ days are, like you know Bastille Day, Guy Fawkes Day or one of those Canadian holidays that require the wearing of denim. But what are the primary bar holidays that you might be forgetting? Let’s take a look at the top five, along with some ideas for how to make the night special.

#5: Halloween

Halloween offers children of all ages the opportunity to pretend to be something they are not. For example, some people like to pretend that they are fine upstanding citizens that only like to cut loose and go totally nutso every once in a while, for example on Halloween. It’s kind of a metaphysical concept, if you think about it. Which is not recommended.

What IS recommended is running a Halloween-themed promotion in order to entice those merrymakers into your establishment rather than the many other watering holes available. Here are some twists on your typical Halloween bar promotions:

  • Hold a costume contest- for the best Nick Cage. (My personal fave.) (Also I would like to share this with you.)
  • Turn your bar into a haunted house. The twist? Have it haunted by evil zombie versions of all your favorite child actors. Zombie Pete and Pete. Zombie Fred Savage. Zombie Jodie Sweetin. Zombie that kid from Jerry Maguire. Those are the first that come to mind for me anyway. Am I showing my age?
  • Hold Halloween movie screenings. Except instead of actual scary movies, you can show movies that are so bad it’s scary and then play drunken Mystery Science Theater.

#4: St. Patrick’s Day

This one is kind of a no-brainer. Why? Because St. Patrick was a notorious barfly in and around the Detroit area back in ’73, and that’s how the whole holiday got started.

But seriously folks, St. Patrick’s Day is the drinkingest holiday around. Legend has it (and by legend I mean well-founded research) that around one percent of annual beer consumption takes place on St. Patrick’s Day. Which is a lot of beer. And that doesn’t even take into account all of the whiskey and other tasty drinky drinks that get drunk on this most wondrous of days. So give the people what they want! Here are some St. Patrick’s Day offerings that patrons have come to love and expect:

  • Irish music:
    • U2 cover bands are a hit with the VH1 crowd
    • A super sweet Irish playlist with Van Morrison, the Cranberries and such
    • Celtic punk a la the Dropkick Murphys
    • Or, go traditional with some Irish folk
  • Irish beverages:
    • Green beer
    • Guinness
    • Irish car bombs
    • Whiskey in all its delightful forms (including Jameson Jell-O shots)
    • Let’s get real, anything green, such as apple martinis
    • Let’s get even realer, anything with alcohol in it
  • Irish food:

#3: Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday that many, dare I say most Americans celebrate without actually knowing what they are celebrating. But no matter! Ignorance and bar profitability have long had a symbiotic and self-perpetuating relationship. The people want to drink and drink they shall. Check this out for Cinco de Mayo party planning ideas as well as a brief and mildly silly history of the holiday.

#2: New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is a night when everybody likes to go out. According to reliable sources, even the notorious recluse J.D. Salinger liked to hit the clubs on this most auspicious occasion. New Year’s Eve is a night that everyone wants to be special, so if you want to lure revelers into your bar you’ve got to tap into that emotion. Ways to make a night feel special? Here are a few ideas:

  • Décor: Snazzing up your bar with some pretty lights or some sparkly stuff is bound to make patrons feel special.
  • Drink specials: Drink specials have the word “special” in their name. So, kind of a gimme.
  • Champagne: A glass of champagne on the house is a nice touch. Brings people together.
  • Live music: It’s got to be a good band or this actually turns depressing real fast. If your bar regularly hosts musical acts, you’ve probably already got a good handle on what your patrons prefer. If this is a new venture for you, be sure to spend some time well in advance of the holiday finding out what local bands your customers would enjoy.
  • A little wooing: Tell all your customers how much you like their outfits. Make sure they know you’re not being creepy. Then, do something really creepy like tell them they remind you of their mother. Customers looooove that.

#1: Black Wednesday

Black Wednesday, a.k.a. Thanksgiving Eve, is now known as one of the biggest, if not the biggest, bar nights of the year. And when you think about it for even a second, it makes perfect sense. Everyone goes home to see their families, and to stave off the ensuing depression and rethinking of one’s general life trajectory, a glass of wine is typically in order. At the very least.

And, on the other hand, those mysterious Americans who are at peace with their relations also like to go out on Thanksgiving Eve in order to have a few beverages with the fam. Who are these mysterious Americans? I’m not sure but I’ve heard tell of them from peripatetic mendicants who have travelled from afar.

So, how about some Black Wednesday promotion ideas?! Here we go, with extra exclamation points for flava:

  • Family discount! Come with relations and get a few free appetizers or “mental scar erasers,” which is the Thanksgiving Eve terminology for a Long Island iced tea.
  • Kids drink for free! Just kidding. Or am I?
  • Family trivia night! With categories for mom, dad, grandma, sportsy brother in law, the hippie niece, creepy uncle and more! A lot of potential here, people. Click here for tips on how to run a trivia night in your bar.

And that’s all for the top bar holidays, friends! Grab hold of your creativity and get your promos rolling.

photo credit: Diamondduste via photopin cc

Sara Henderson (17 Posts)

2 Replies to "Easy Money! The 5 Best Bar Holidays and How to Promote Them"

  • Jason
    August 9, 2013 (11:51 am)

    Great post! I didn’t even know Black Wednesday was a thing. I’ve been doing Thanksgiving all wrong…

    • Sara
      August 12, 2013 (11:11 am)

      I knew this blog would change somebody’s life eventually!

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