How to Make Your Bar Appeal to Singles on Valentine’s DayCouples aren’t the only customers to court on Cupid’s big day.
When you think about who’s visiting your bar on Valentine’s Day, you probably imagine couples, coming in hand-in-hand, to toast to the love they share. But there’s actually another group of potential customers that are worth courting this time of year: singles.
According to the Census Bureau, more than 110 million unmarried adults live in the U.S., and while many of them may not have big, romantic plans on Feb. 14, they are willing to go somewhere that promises a great time.
“Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples,” said Feisser Stone, founder and creative director of cocktail lifestyle company Barlingual. “It’s about celebrating the connection you have with people. Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you have to sit home alone.”
So don’t be afraid to skip the champagne, heart decorations and chocolate-covered strawberries this year. Here’s how to show singles some love, and make your bar their go-to place on Cupid’s big day and beyond.
Set up your space
First, take a look around your space. Singles will naturally be drawn to the bar stools, but if the majority of your tables are two-tops, you might want to rethink the rest of your set-up.
“Communal tables are a great idea because you gently force people to mingle instead of confining singles to the bar,” said Stone.
Longer tables with a bunch of seats and high-tops you can stand around will feel more welcoming to unattached people, who may go out with groups of friends or even alone, looking for a conversation with someone new, said Chris Adams, principal of hospitality consulting firm Ellis Adams Group. He added that shared areas will also enliven your bar’s atmosphere.
“Seating that forces people to mix and mingle drives energy into the room because they’re forced to engage,” he said. “Single people look for those kinds of spots. They want to go to places where they can hang out and have conversations with other people.”
As a bonus, throw some conversation-starter cards down on every table to get people chatting. If they’ve come alone, they may welcome the icebreaker.
Host a special event
A one-of-a-kind event can be a major draw for people who might otherwise stay home on Valentine’s Day. Host a special evening that encourages singles to come in with their friends to help build a crowd, said Stone.
“A BFF [best friends forever] happy hour would be really cool, and you can do a buy-one-get-one drink special for customers and their BFFs,” he said. “The more people who come to the event, the more fun it is, so host events that appeal to groups.”
Games can also be exciting for groups of friends looking for a night out. Stone suggests throwing a friendship-themed trivia night at your bar on Feb. 14.
“Make all the trivia reference TV shows that celebrate friendship, like ‘Friends’ and ‘How I Met Your Mother.’ It’ll be even more interactive if there are prizes. People love trivia and they’ll show up to a place with a theme, and sometimes even dress the part,” he said.
Play with your cocktails
On a holiday, customers are more inclined to splurge on a fancy cocktail, rather than their regular mixed drink. A cheeky cocktail menu that makes people smile will be an extra nudge to get customers to buy the specials, said Stone.
He created three anti-Valentine’s Day cocktail recipes with pop-culture names that celebrate single life:
- Hotline Bling: Build 1 oz. tequila, 1 oz. ancho chili liqueur, 3/4 oz ginger syrup and 1/2 oz. lime juice into a collins glass. Top with club soda, add ice, stir and garnish with a lime wedge.
- No Strings Attached: Add 1 oz. each of mezcal joven, Gran Classico and sweet vermouth to a rocks glass with two dashes of chocolate bitters. Add ice, stir and garnish with a pinch of salt and an orange peel.
- Wild and Free: To a shaker, add 1 oz. applejack, 1 oz. rye whiskey, 3/4 oz. honey, 3/4 oz. lemon juice and three dashes of lavender bitters. Shake for 6-8 seconds, then strain into an iced rocks glass.
Be sure you don’t go overboard, though. Just a few special cocktails is enough to acknowledge the holiday. Both Stone and Adams agreed that a diverse cocktail menu with lots of different flavors will be the ultimate draw — and will help keep your profits high.
“When we dump too much energy into a large, specific drink list for one night, it gets expensive. A customer might have one drink because they think it’s hilarious, especially if it’s served in a weird container they want to take a picture of. But most people will be happy with a diverse menu of drinks that appeal to both men and women,” said Adams.
Don’t acknowledge Valentine’s Day
Being a bit irreverent is one way to get singles into your bar, but ignoring the holiday altogether might have a similar effect for unmarried people who just want to avoid the chaos, said Adams.
“Play up the fact that it’s just another Wednesday. You can be playful with the fact that you’re not acknowledging it’s Valentine’s Day and do it in a way that everyone gets what you’re saying without going overboard,” he said.
Social media can be an especially useful tool with this approach. Stone suggested going against the typical color scheme of reds and pinks in the imagery of your posts so it immediately stands out from the rest on customers’ feeds. Then, highlight what makes your bar an exciting place to be on any other Wednesday.
“Psychologically, the last thing some people want is to feel like the fact they’re single is being overemphasized. Everything you do with your brand should tie into your target customer’s psychology,” said Adams.
Become known for the singles scene
Every bar in town has a character. There’s the sports bar, the romantic bar, the place everyone goes after work for happy hour. Use Valentine’s Day to springboard your bar into becoming the local spot for singles every day, said Adams.
“It’s important to develop a concept that’s identifiable. If you want to attract singles, be specific in how you lay out your design and build your cocktail menu. These things are extremely important in driving that target customer through your doors,” he said.
If you woo singles on Valentine’s Day and show them a great time, you’ll likely see them come back again and again throughout the year.