Designing Bars for Show-stopping Mixology

Mixology is the art of cocktail making and drinks preparation, putting emphasis on the process as well as the end product. It is very much an experiential addition a bar, which gives guests and customers a sense of entertainment when ordering and waiting for their drinks.

Often performed by an experienced and highly trained mixologist, this idea is to create a memorable experience for customers – turning the bar itself into a focal point.

With that in mind, how can bar business owners design a bar which supports this show stopping emphasis on the preparation of drinks?

The Essence of Mixology

With mixology such a creative means of preparing and presenting drinks in a bar, it follows that designing a bar built for mixology should shine a spotlight on that preparation zone.

These are the bartenders who throw cocktail shakers in the air and add extra flair to even the blandest of drinks – with guests looking for opportunities to engage and become immersed in their order as an experience. And that’s before you even get to taste the cocktail – which far from being the most boring part of the journey should simply draw it all together with a punch of flavour and a smooth finish.

In this blog post we’re going to highlight the main areas to consider when designing a bar with mixology in mind – spanning the layout to optimise guest engagement, the creation of a bar interior theme to support the flavours and drinks on offer, and the best way to keep your bar functional as well as experiential.

Key Design Elements of Mixology-Focussed Bars

Bartender preparing a drink

Bar Layout

You won’t be surprised to learn that one of the most important features of a mixology-focussed bar is the bar itself. The layout of your entire space needs to facilitate interaction between the bartender and guests, with ingredients and drink-making tools well placed to optimise efficiency and showmanship.

Place guests in locations around the bar, for example by placing the bar in the centre of the room rather than to one side.


Aside from placing the bar in the centre of the space, you can also highlight the area through lighting – connecting the theme of your bar with the environment through coloured lights and different light intensities.

You can also consider here the kind of bar that you are running and whether you’re offering a club-style experience, an intimate and cosy experience, a romantic experience, or something else. All of this will impact the lighting in terms of fittings, light placement, and colour palettes.

Material Selection

How practical are the surfaces and materials in your bar, and are they as aesthetically pleasing as they are easy to clean and maintain?

Remember that mixology is all about drink prep and showmanship – and that spilled ingredients and glass rings all come with the territory.

Seating and Ambience

Finally, do the seats in your bar give guests a chance to interact with the bartender while also enjoying comfort and relaxation?

Seats should be selected to offer comfort and practicality – with surrounding features all aiding the delivery of a themed but accessible experience. For example, think about how music can enhance the environment without impeding on customers’ ability to communicate.

Overcoming Common Challenges

With mixology such a popular trend in bars, one of the challenges that many businesses are experiencing is simple high demand – with guests ordering more complex cocktails which take time to create.

One of the best ways to overcome this from a business perspective is to prepare elements of your core cocktails where possible and inject entertainment into the order experience using technology and other features to keep guests entertained and engaged.

The Power of Great Mixology in Your Bar

Creating a bar that’s built for mixology and the provision of a great guest experience is as much about layout as it is about design – selecting a theme and vibe for your bar and working upwards from there.

The most successful bars and those that generate repeat custom are the ones which elevate cocktail making as a part of the experience – not just serving drinks but making preparation and presentation a part of the guest journey.

For more advice on building a bar that’s fit for the finest cocktails, reach out to Carroll Design today.

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