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How to Host a Pub 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 to find out how to plan a bar crawl, including ideas for bar crawl games, themes, and other helpful advice to make your St. Paddy's Day a success.

How Do Pub Crawls Work?

Before we dig into the details, let's explore exactly what a pub crawl is and how they work. In its simplest form, a pub crawl is exactly what it sounds like: drinking at several different bars in one night. They usually take place in cities and are traveled by foot, but if the establishments are too spread out, taxis or public buses may be involved.

While bar crawls are often unofficial events that can be organized and enjoyed by small groups of friends, there are certain occasions where local pubs will organize a route and help their patrons fill their evening with food and drink at several different locations. St. Patrick's Day is the perfect opportunity for businesses to collaborate and figure out a path for people to follow, so they can hit several stops along the way.

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.

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 an official pub crawl website 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.

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 wristbands (after checking their IDs), so that bartenders immediately know who is participating in the event. Then, send them on their way!

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. And, of course, you can stock up on green tableware, like beverage napkins and plastic cups to create a cohesive visual theme.

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
  • Trivia

Organize Games

Aside from all your typical game room activities, organizing drinking games can be a fun way to get your patrons to interact with each other. Some popular ones include beer pong, flip cup, or even "drunk jenga." If you have an outdoor space, consider setting up some lawn games, like horseshoes or bocci. These activities can encourage people to spend more time at your bar and buy more drinks.

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)

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 for 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
  • Fish and Chips

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.

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:

Posted in: Holidays | Bars & Breweries | By Jessica Wieser
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