5 qualities that make or break a bar.

I believe you can become an expert at the things you enjoy the most, because in the search for that pleasure you pay extra attention to all the details. When I finished my architecture degree in college, I thought constantly about the psychology of space; of how it affects our daily experiences. Personally, I come back to a place for what it inspires in my heart more than for its popularity, and I wonder if it’s the same for many people, without them even being aware of it. They return for the unspoken appeal, the energy, the inspiration.

Visiting a new bar it’s a bit of a “first date” kind of experience. First, it’s all about the looks, but there are 5 things I look at, features that make me stay and come back for more. My loyalty is earned just like the trust of a bartender is also earned.


Nothing more irresistible than a bartender, female or male, who gives you a smile when you arrive. Even on my busiest bar shift, I try my best to greet everyone with a smile so that they will wait for me to serve them. The smile tells you it’s worth the wait. Smiles are contagious and create a connection unlike any other. First impressions are powerful, and it takes 5 seconds to make one at a bar.


I love a cozy space. Not too loud, not too pretentious. You need to be in the mood to go to a loud bar, some people can relax only in a loud and eclectic environment. However, space should always be inviting and evoking to relax and enjoy. Not too constricted, not blocking the flow of patrons. Spaces are self-developed by the natural flow of people. I love minimalist bars too but also inviting and comfortable. The space should always be inviting no matter the style.


Have you noticed how the unspoken signal for everyone to go home at the end of the night is turning up the lights in the room? If you want to be more hostile, turn off the music. What do bright lights and no music remind you off? A hospital? A police station? Let’s be serious, some people don’t understand the concept of lighting. A common mistake I find in new bars is yellow dim overhead lighting and low tables. Usually makes for an awkward space. Inviting lighting, just like an appealing space, is an art form. Never white, fluorescent, or “daylight” bulbs. Mysteriously, these lights make a place look darker than it is because they are recessive. They give nothing, they take everything. A girlfriend of mine recently told me the story of a man inviting her over to his apartment for a drink. When she arrived, all the lighting was white. Even moderately tipsy, she left immediately, instantly turned off by the ambiance. If only men knew their badly lit apartments kept them from the affections of women…


A bar should have something for everyone. A price range from a 5 dollar beer to a 20 dollar glass of champagne, as an example. Why would you invest yourself completely on your first visit? Remember, this is the first date with this bar. Every good bar has something special to discover, but sometimes you don’t discover it on your first visit, and loyalty is built.


Most great writers and artists frequented community spaces like bars. They could indulge a bit while finding their inspiration. Some even wrote and composed while relaxing at their favorite bars with a few drinks. For this to happen naturally, comfortable spaces were needed. Once again, if you spend 3 hours at a bar and remain relaxed, you know it’s a great bar. Cozy stools, space for your legs, bottom rails for your feet, electric plugs for your phone (modern genius feature being added to new bars). I have been to bars with icy minimal metal stools, slick bar tops with no space for your legs, no ergonomic qualities. Sometimes minimal means painful, and for the sake of aesthetics, all comfort and appeal are sacrificed.

Personally, my favorite bars are where the bartenders are my friends, and visiting them feels like a home away from home. That just comes with a bit of time, if you have been seduced by all the 5 aforementioned features.

Which are your favorite bars and why do you love them? Leave me a comment! ❤️ Until next time 🍷

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