The importance of ambience and decor
We're intending to award and reward venues that give a full 360 experience when handing out PINS for The Pinnacle Guide. It's not enough to be serving delicious drinks. Or to have fantastic staff. Or to be housed in an amazing venue. We're looking for excellence on every level and for that to be showcased over multiple visits by our anonymous reviewers. And that has to include ambience and decor.
As with all our discussions so far around "what makes a great bar" - the overriding theme amongst everyone we've connected with, across every continent now, is that it's the FEELING. And that was just as clear within this week's Round Table. As soon as you've crossed the threshold, before you've even interacted with a member of staff and certainly before you've been handed a drink - the overwhelming consensus is that a bar should make you feel marvellous.
Despite three designers joining the conversation - there was actually little chat about the fundamental elements that are present in a good bar. Whilst we were ready and willing to discuss the perfect height ratio between a bar stool and the floor (what if you have exceptionally small legs?!) - in fact, this didn't even come up. Instead, unanimously we were back to "thoughtfulness". Or, as beautifully coined by panellist Robbie Bargh, founder of Gorgeous Group - we must be looking at the "emotion per square foot" of a bar.
But - what does that actually mean? Well. Designing a space that is sympathetic to the area, the existing building structure, the view if there is one and of course that matches the original concept and brief. Whether that's 20 floors up or hidden below ground.
One of the best pieces of advice that came out of the session was for aspiring bar owners and came from Christine Wiseman, Beverage Director of Bar Lab, USA. When her team are creating new concepts they take time to imagine their perfect customer. They name them. They envisage their drinks order, where they live, what they do - so that each of their venues perfectly meets the needs of their preferred demographic. Smart idea. And very focussing for the whole team.
And so once again - it's clear that requesting a bit more information ahead of a reviewer going in is vital - to ensure that each bar is judged as they would like to be seen.
When we're measuring a feeling (or thoughtfulness, or emotion per square foot) - we should probably be judging that against how the proprietor intended us to experience their space. A can of worms? Maybe. But The Pinnacle Guide is here to award the full breadth of venues and experience that makes our industry so special and so we're up for the challenge.
As always - we're here to put your opinions on record as we shape and formulate The Pinnacle Guide. If you have any feedback to this conversation, please email hello@thepinnacleguide and we'll come straight back to you.
This sessions panellists
Amie works across both commercial and residential projects as an interior stylist. Her clients include leading hospitality design team AvroKO, Mortimer House, Maybourne Group and - FaceGym. She is also a co-collaborator of emerging British design studio, 2am Interiors with...
An interior designer and award-winning creative with over 20 years experience in the hospitality, corporate and residential worlds. She is the founder of both Mehrai Studios and 2am Interiors with Amie. Prior to setting up her own practice, Afs worked as the Managing Director of AvroKO UK and as the Design Director at Modus, working on many many prestigious and unique projects.
The Beverage Director of Bar Lab, which includes Broken Shaker, Hoja, and Margot Natural Wine Bar over in the states. She has been immersed in the hospitality industry for over 20 years but actually started out as a chef. Switching to bartending was a good move as she has been a semi-finalist twice and then a finalist in 2020 for American Bartender of the Year at The Spirited Awards. Plus she's also been on Jimmy Kimmel Live. So she's ever so famous.
The founder of Gorgeous Group - a hospitality concept agency based in London, but with clients all over the world. Robbie founded Gorgeous Group in 1999 and has always been incredibly ahead of his time. His clients have included; The Savoy, The Lanesborough, the Orient Express, Virgin Cruises, Selfridges, Harrods and - Barclays Bank! He is truly a bonafide expert in hospitality-concept creation, design and experience.