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How to Host a St. Patrick's Day Bar Crawl

Although it began as a 24-hour break from Lenten dietary restrictions, Americans are responsible for turning St. Patrick's Day into a drinking holiday. If you're planning to hold a St. Patrick's Day celebration at your pub this March 17th, hosting a local bar crawl can be a great way to increase business. Establishments located in downtown areas of cities are ideal candidates for bar crawls, as potential patrons will be traveling on foot and stopping at pubs as they pass them. Keep reading for simple tips that will help you plan a fun bar crawl this St. Paddy's Day.

1. Partner Up with Other Local Bars

Your job is to make your bar stand out from the crowd, but the best way to ensure plenty of business on St. Patrick's is to partner with the competition. You can’t have a bar crawl without other bars, so give your neighbors a call and see if they’d like to collaborate for a night of St. Paddy's Day drinking that customers won’t be able to stop talking about. The benefit of partnering up is that patrons will spend time in each of your bars, rather than giving their business to only one bar for the night.

2. Make Your Bar Crawl Official

When you’ve figured out who you’ll be partnering with, publicize your pub crawl. Consider registering your crawl with pubcrawls.com so that customers can find your event and buy tickets online. Build hype by creating an event and promoting it on Facebook. Discuss a set price for the evening, which will include discounts on drinks in each participating bar as well as any fun freebies you wish to give out at the start of the crawl. Depending on what you want to offer, a price between $15 and $30 is standard.

3. Work Out the Details of Your Crawl

Ensure that your patrons have all of the information they need to get the most out of your bar crawl by providing them with a map of the participating bars. Be sure to mark bus stops and schedules on the map as well as the phone numbers of local cab services. Customers want to have a carefree night of partying, and part of that is knowing that they have a safe ride home. At the starting line, give crawlers green wrist bands (after checking their IDs) so that bartenders immediately know who is participating in the event, and send them on their way.

4. Play Up the St. Paddy's Day Theme

When your pub crawl is official, it’s time to start to plan the festivities. Perhaps you’ll want to create a special T-shirt to hand out to participants, or have them dress in their best leprechaun costume. At the starting point, have crawlers enter their name in a raffle for a gift card giveaway that gives the lucky winners an excuse to come back to participating bars. Consider playing authentic Irish music or even hiring a band for some live traditional music. Also, make sure your establishment is stocked with green beverage napkins and green plastic cups to keep the theme alive as customers filter through your door.

5. Keep Your Bar Crawl Fun

Coordinate with your partners and make sure there’s something exciting at every stop in the crawl. Try hosting St. Patrick’s Day themed games with prizes, such as green beads or free beer, or build excitement with something unique like offering St. Paddy's themed face painting to keep customers from getting bored at your stop. They’ll enjoy their time in your establishment, and their excitement will build as they wonder what will be going on at the next bar.

Here are a few examples of fun bar crawl games you can offer your patrons:

  • A scavenger hunt that spans the bar crawl route
  • Shuffleboard, darts, and pool tournaments
  • Various drinking games
  • Trivia
  • Cornhole (weather permitting)

6. Serve Guests Their Favorite Drinks

Beer, cider, and cocktails are essential to a successful St. Patrick's Day bar crawl. In addition to Irish beer standards, we've come up with a list of craft beers and creative cocktails to consider serving on March 17th:

Classic Irish Beers and Ciders:

  • Guinness Draught (4.2%)
  • Smithwick's Premium Irish Ale (4.5%)
  • Murphy's Irish Red (5%)
  • Harp Lager (5%)
  • Magner's Irish Cider (4.5%)

Irish-Inspired Craft Beers:

  • Flying Dog Brewery's Lucky S.O.B. Irish Red (5.5%)
  • Victory Brewing Company's Donnybrook Stout (3.7%)
  • Harpoon Brewery's Celtic Ale (5.4%)
  • Goose Island Beer Company's Bourbon County Brand Stout (13.8%)
  • Thomas Creek Brewery's River Falls Red Ale (5.65%)

St. Paddy's Day Themed Cocktails:

  • Irish Car Bomb (shots of Bailey's and Jameson dropped into a glass of Guinness)
  • Irish Coffee (coffee with Jameson and Irish cream)
  • Irish Flag (creme de menthe, Licor 43, and Irish cream)
  • Grasshopper (creme de menthe and creme de cacao)
  • Irish Julep (bourbon, creme de menthe, half and half, and mint)

7. Stock Up on St. Patrick's Day Bar Supplies

Here are some St. Patrick's Day barware essentials that you'll definitely want to purchase for your restaurant, bar, or nightclub:

8. Prepare Delicious St. Paddy's Day Foods

While green beer and St. Paddy's themed cocktails are the focus of the day, crawlers need to keep food in their systems. Your customers will thank you for keeping their stomachs full as they continue their crawl. Here are a few ideas of appetizers, entrees, and desserts you can serve at your business:

St. Paddy's Day Appetizers:

  • Corned beef dip
  • Mini shepherd's pies
  • Irish brown bread
  • Potato soup

St. Paddy's Day Entrees:

  • Bangers and mash
  • Shepherd's pie
  • Corned beef and cabbage
  • Irish stew

St. Paddy's Day Desserts:

  • Irish cream chocolate mousse cake
  • Irish coffee
  • Brioche bread and butter pudding
  • Irish shortbread

Although healthy competition among local bars is necessary, try working together this St. Patrick’s Day to have a profitable evening for every pub in the community. With drink discounts, fun games and raffles, and delicious Irish fare, crawlers won’t soon forget this St. Paddy's Day.

Posted in: Holidays | Bars & Breweries | By Nora Fulmer
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