Promos We Love: 15 Promotions that Caught Our Attention a and Found Success at the Bar

15 Promotions that Caught Our Attention — and Found Success at the Bar

We see a lot of bar and nightclub promotions come across our desks, and we know that while proper planning and clear communication are vital to any program’s success, creativity is what draws a crowd, sells drinks and grows overall sales for any venue. Here, the Nightclub & Bar editors showcase 15 of our favorite recent promotions. These promos proved successful — let them inspire you to get creative at your bar!

The Statement MartiniThe Statement Martini

BOND restaurant and lounge at The Langham, Boston
When a guest orders The Statement Martini ($14), she (or he) receives a diamond, which may be real or fake. After enjoying the cocktail, the guest takes the “diamond” to the Shreve, Crump & Low jewelry store to see if it is the one real diamond — if it is, that person wins a pair of Martini-set diamond earrings valued at $7,500.

Why We Love It: The promotion not only showcased a drink off the bar’s recently updated spring cocktail list, but it also worked in a great sponsorship from a local vendor. It’s out of the ordinary and creative — at little cost to the bar, but with great profits.


Snow on H

Snow on H

Little Miss Whiskey’s, Jimmy Valentine’s, Palace of Wonders, the Pug and Sticky Rice, Washington, D.C.
Five bars along D.C.’s H Street banded together during the area’s record snowfall this year, offering guests $1 off drinks per 6 inches of snow received (although management capped the minimum drink price at $2).

Why We Love It: In some regions, winter is a dismal operating time, but add 24 inches of snow to the crummy weather and guests are bound to stay indoors — unless you make an offer guests can’t refuse, which these five bars did. Note, however, they didn’t give away drinks: Even though the city received 2 feet of snow, $4 drinks didn’t go across the bar for free — they went for $2, the bars’ stated minimum price.

Palms Casino Midsummer's Night PartyA Midsummer Night’s Dream

Palms Pool, Las Vegas
This year’s Midsummer Night’s Dream party at the Palms Pool, themed “A Pirate’s Guilty Pleasure,” featured life-sized cannons, a pirate ship, a hosted bar and a full cast of performers, transforming the poolside venue into a promotional dream.


Why We Love It: The promotion won the 2010 Nightclub & Bar Awards for single promotion of the year, so we’d be remiss not to point out its standout qualities, from exceptional planning to N9NE Group’s ability to fully transform the space and draw a huge crowd as a result.

Basho Therapeutic ThursdayTherapeutic Thursdays

Basho Japanese Brasserie, Boston
To celebrate the premiere of the hospital documentary “Boston Med,” Basho offers weekly sushi and drink specials for medical professionals, hospital staff and students on Thursday nights while the show airs (June 24-Aug. 12). Drink specials include the Morphine Drip (vodka, Thatcher’s Cucumber, sake, mint and lime) and the Code Red (Bombay Sapphire Gin, Canton Ginger Liqueur, raspberry liqueur and cranberry juice).

Why We Love It: Other than a well-made cocktail, there’s not much we editors appreciate more than television, and this promotion combines the best of both worlds. It attracts a different crowd than you might normally target and capitalizes on the health-conscious craze. Why not try it for a different medical TV show? Make Thursday night “Grey’s Anatomy” night or show re-runs of “ER” on an off night to boost sales.

Mojo's Moped GiveawayMojo’s Moped Giveaway

Mojo’s Pizza House, Cedar Falls, Iowa
From April 1-May 1, Mojo’s invited guests to use their VIP cards to sign up to win a moped and free gas. One qualifier was chosen each day in April with entries from the previous day thrown out. Qualifiers returned on May 1 to receive a key and see if it started the moped.

Why We Love It: This promotion not only enticed guests to stop by the bar twice — once to sign up and then return if they qualified — but it prompted them to come day after day by having a fresh drawing each day. The promotion increased traffic by 42 percent over the same time period the year before, and in a college town in a down economy, an economical moped with free gas was a perfect fit for the clientele.

Holy Cow Rail Station Bar & GrillHoly Cow! We Hit 1,000 Facebook Fans

Rail Station Bar & Grill, Minneapolis
Within one year of promoting its Facebook page, Rail Station Bar & Grill reached 1,000 fans and decided to mark the milestone with a thankful promotion: Each Facebook fan who came to the bar on April 27 received a free hamburger and French fries. The result? The bar garnered more than 200 new fans on Facebook in one day, added more than 100 new members to the Mobile Text Club and increased its e-mail database by 175 addresses.
Why We Love It: This promotion helped the bar gain publicity and fans, plus it thanked the patrons who make the bar a success — and practically did it all for free! (Guests had to pay extra for cheese on their burgers, which helped out with the costs.) Plus, they grew their social media presence with ease. The bar spread the world and spread the love, which makes it a double success!


Butter’s Celebrity Wake

Butter, San Francisco
To celebrate the life of celebrities, entertainers or athletes who recently died, Butter hosts a Celebrity Wake, offering a themed drink special and corresponding entertainment. For example, a DJ plays a musician’s greatest hits throughout the evening, or the bar screens the actor’s best movies (as long as there are no licensing infringements). Following Dennis Hopper’s death, for example, anyone who wore rabbit ears or “hopped” up and down as he/she ordered a drink got $2 off; the bar also screened “Easy Rider.”

Why We Love It: It’s slightly twisted and dark, but it’s also creative — it doesn’t just focus on the top celebs but rather anyone and everyone who’s famous. Plus it offers different levels of attraction — drink specials, music offerings or movie entertainment — which can draw different patrons for different reasons.

Fashion Industry Night SharkeezFiN Fashion Industry Night

Baja Sharkeez, Hermosa Beach, Calif.
Combining fashion, art and music, as well as a great bar selection, Baja Sharkeez hosts FiN Fashion Industry Night nearly every Monday. The event includes a runway fashion show, highlighting local brands and salons, and displays artwork from local artists. Each month, Sharkeez selects a different charity to benefit, as well.


Why We Love It: The promotion has taken the bar’s slowest night of the week and increased sales by more than 500 percent, according to management, which is amazing in itself. Plus, it helps the bar strengthen its relationship with local businesses and attracts a huge crowd even on Mondays (there usually are lines of 75-100 people outside the door, management says). Not too shabby!

Industry Night at Side Bar

Side Bar, San Diego
Industry Night is a big deal for any venue, so management at Side Bar upped the ante to stand out: Guest bartenders are invited to serve up drinks every Wednesday night. From local nurses bartending for National Nurses’ Day to the bar’s public relations team pouring drinks to raise money for low-income families during Christmas, this promotion keeps patrons coming back for these unique events. 

Why We Love It: Guest bartenders attract new customers to the venue, drawing on their friends, family and colleagues, as well as supporters of the evening’s cause. Add in a rotating DJ and Side Bar easily designates itself as a go-to venue on industry night in San Diego by offering a constant cycle of fresh options.

Flip Night

Flight 151, New York, NY
Every Tuesday night since 1992, bartenders at Flight 151 flip a coin each time a customer orders a house-brand drink or draft beer. If the customer calls it right, the drink is free.

Why We Love It: No matter the odds, getting a free drink by calling heads or tails is a seemingly simple promotion but one with big rewards. Not only does it keep crowds entertained throughout the night, but it also gets customers coming back to Flight 151 — establishing a loyal customer base happy to pay up for drinks but even happier to take a chance for a free one.

Shred Your Ex

Bar Louie, locations nationwide
On Valentine’s Day, guests at Bar Louie bring in photos of their ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, and Bar Louie employees shred the photos at the door. What’s more, each patron who brings in a picture receives a complimentary drink.

Why We Love It: Let’s be honest, Valentine’s Day can be an awkward holiday, especially for scorned lovers who would rather hide out than go out. But Bar Louie turns the holiday on its head, giving singles something fun to do on a day that they often refer to as “Singles’ Awareness Day.” This cathartic shredding is a smart way to promote Valentine’s Day to a clientele that is oft forgotten on this day of love.

Addiction Thursdays

Jbar at the James Hotel, Chicago
Two Thursdays each month are known as “Addiction Thursdays” at Jbar, celebrating all vices, from celebrity infatuations to Facebook obsessions. Jbar turns those seemingly guilty pleasures into a fun promotion, bringing in 50 extra guests per night as guests listen to music inspired by the addiction while drinking themed cocktails.

Why We Love It: Jbar pokes fun at its clientele — as the clientele poke fun at themselves. Plus, Addiction Thursdays feature offers from local businesses that emphasize the addiction, which helps guests realize that maybe one little addiction isn’t quite so bad.

Name of the Night

mad46, Roosevelt Hotel, New York
At mad46, staff chooses a name for that night — Ashley or Eric, for example — and guests with that name receive drink specials and other giveaways.

Why We Love It: Everyone wants to feel special, and mad46 figured out a way to personalize a night out. The guest becomes the “chosen” one, and they come to mad46 to be treated as someone special — even if it’s for one night only.

Flu Shot London LenniesThe Flu Shot Menu

London Lennies, Queens, N.Y.
Last fall, with the H1N1 virus being the most-feared disease, London Lennies offered a “Flu Shot” menu, consisting of “Flu Shot” oyster shooters with tequila, gazpacho, vegetables and lime juice and the “Crabcake Cure” with flu-fighting vitamins, allowing customers an escape from flu season stresses. 

Why We Love It: Flu season often means people would rather stay in than go out, but management at London Lennies found an interesting way to draw people into the venue. These tongue-in-cheek, creatively named food and drink specials were fun alternatives to SARS masks, turning a timely and fearful situation into a profitable promotion.

Martinis & Manicures W MinneapolisMartinis & Manicures

The Living Room Bar in the W Hotel, Minneapolis
On the third Thursday of June and July (and continuing through August and September), guests at The Living Room received a Martini and a manicure or chair massage for $20. The Living Room also featured clothing and accessories from local boutiques so guests could follow the promotion’s motto: “Drink yourself beautiful. Groom yourself silly.”

Why We Love It: What’s not to love? Guests get glam while sipping on Martinis. It’s a classy idea that involves more than just your cocktail menu. By bringing in manicurists and offering items from boutiques, Martinis & Manicures involves, supports and promotes local businesses and vendors, and it builds a fan base by enticing a target audience to join the fun. NCB

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