Pac-Man to Pop-Ups: Hot Bar Trends

It’s Friday night! You and your friends are texting furiously about where to go. But then you have the “been there, done that” conversation, and disappointment sets in. You’re tired of the same ‘ol bar and brewery scene. Well, have no fear… new options are popping up everywhere! Pac-Man to Pop-Ups! Check out some of the hottest bar trends from across the country.

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Beer + vintage arcade games = genius. This is no Dave & Buster’s. I’m talking 1980s-video-games-pinball-no-kids-awesome-craft-beer-list kind of place. Who didn’t love playing Ms. Pac-Man at the mall arcade? Or playing Skee-Ball on the boardwalk at the beach? These games are nostalgic – and great for today’s short attention spans. Check out Emporium in Chicago, The Circuit in Richmond, Va. and the Atlas Arcade in Washington, D.C. Hopefully one is coming soon to a city near you.

Brewery & Winery in One

I have been waiting for this one for a long time. In fact, I “called it” years ago when the craft brewery scene exploded. Often, my wine-drinking-only friends did not want to go to a brewery (I totally do not understand this concept of “not liking” beer?) so we had to go to a “regular” bar. Well, those days are over, my friends! Places such as Garden Grove Brewing & Urban Winery in Richmond, Va., Nimble Hill Winery & Brewery in northeast Pa. and Cisco Brewers in Nantucket, Mass. (which also houses a distillery!) produce their own beer AND wine in one location. That’s genius.

Self-Pour Bars

Swipe your credit card! Choose a beer or wine on tap! Pour it yourself! Pay by the ounce! This could be trouble for me, as I think it’s fun just to pour from a tap. But self-pour bars – what an innovative concept. At Tapster in Chicago, not only can you choose from beer or wine on tap, they also offer coffee, soda, cocktails and Kombucha. (I know, right?) A “mecca for craft beer lovers,” FREEDOM TO POUR is the motto of Barrel Republic in San Diego. And the Pour Taproom in Asheville, NC offers “a Beer & Wine festival every day of the week.” How can you argue with that?

Pop-Up Bars

In this age of instant gratification, what better way to appeal to changing tastes than with temporary bars? Pop-up bars may be themed for a season, a month, a week or even a night. Drink Company in Washington, D.C., created a Game of Thrones-themed pub, and then transformed it into Pub Dread, a creepy bar full of terrors, for the month of October. Replay in Chicago (also a barcade!) created a temporary Simpson’s-themed Moe’s Tavern for Halloween. The Miracle concept (developed by the owner of NYC cocktail bar Mace) will take over spots in cities across the U.S. this December, with Christmas and Hanukkah drinks and decor from the 1950s and 60s. The weather’s getting colder, but this trend is hot.

So here’s hoping some fun, unique bar adventures come your way. Maybe I’ll see you out, and we can play some Space Invaders and pour our own craft beers together? Cheers!

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