Get Rid of the Giant Jenga.
We’re not against the idea of games at a bar. Darts, pool, shuffleboard, pinball, an old-school arcade machine or two, bimini (that delightful and frustrating ring on a string game), maybe even Pop-A-Shot—they all have rightfully earned their place. But Giant Jenga is not a game, in the same way that a waitress dropping a tray of empties is not a game. Giant Jenga is a violent intrusion on the central nervous systems of your fellow patrons, a takeover robbery of the good time being had by anyone not playing it. The entire point of Giant Jenga is that, at some point, a large stack of sawed-off two-by-fours is going to noisily clatter to the ground when everyone on the patio—apart from the braying jackals crowded around the wobbly tower—least expects it. You know who plays Giant Jenga at bars? The worst people. Knock it off.
Don’t Say You Have An “Ice Program.”
Listen: you don’t have an “ice program,” okay? You have ice, in different shapes and sizes, for different drinks. Don’t get us wrong. It’s a very thoughtful touch. Makes every cocktail maybe 5 percent better, and we have definitely noticed. But hearing your bar manager talk about his “ice program” makes us want to hand-craft a trash can out of reclaimed barn wood and vintage bicycle parts just so we can toss that maybe-5-percent-better cocktail into it. “Ice program” is useless jargon, and useless jargon belongs in internal memos and Shark Tank pitches. Not everything has to be a program. In fact, while we’re here, don’t say you have a “beer program,” either. Don’t say “program” at all. Say “menu” or “selection.” Or just say, “Would you like another drink?” (Yes, we would, and put some more of those nine-times-filtered cubes in it.)
Stop Playing Radiohead at Bars.
Here’s the deal: bar songs can be sad if they fall firmly within the genre boundaries of soul or country—though anything after, say, 1991 should be taken on a case-by-case basis. They can be weird if they’re show-up-at-a-wedding-in-a-beekeeper-suit-wait-he’s-also-wearing-an-eyepatch weird and not never-look-in-his-basement weird. They can be about the crippling isolation that technology has AirDropped on all of us or the long-predicted sneak attack of fascism and its fallout if I have absolutely no idea that’s what they’re actually about. Radiohead doesn’t, and can’t, do any of that. With Thom Yorke and company on the soundtrack, an innocent drink at a bar suddenly feels like something else entirely. The end credits of a movie you didn’t really like. The introductory text of a police report. A conversation with a college friend you hoped you’d never see again. Those make us want to drink at home, not at your bar.