I'm in between summer trips this week, so I'm refreshing an oldie but goodie about what makes for our favorite fictional bars. Grab a stool and mosey on up!
What is it about bars, pubs and taverns that makes them so darn fun to invent? I don’t know about you, but I get a gleeful little kick out of creating the perfect watering holes where my characters can wander in and grab a drink. Last night, I was brainstorming names for a bar in my latest WIP and got to thinking about the ingredients authors need to brew up just the right mix.
Decide what vibe you want for your bar, and figure out how to convey that through music, lighting and table arrangements. You want a dingy little hole-in-the-wall, or a sleek high-end façade with jazz playing in the background? A cozy Irish feel, complete with dancing, or a wild thumping club with strobe lights and a bass louder than thunder?
The Three Broomsticks is a far cry from the Mos Eisley Cantina. There are literally endless combinations, so have some fun with it!
This is especially important if the bar is going to be a recurring locale in your novel. The bartender’s clothes, personality, physical appearance and dialect tend to be pretty colorful. Sometimes, they stick behind the counter like superglue; othertimes, they’re constantly running back and forth between tables with pitchers of beer and hot meals.
One of my favorite examples of the bartender-as-character is Mac from the Dresden Files. I don’t think the guy says more than two full sentences in the entire series, but he’s irreplaceable!
I spend far, FAR too much time naming my bars. It’s crazy fun to come up with the perfect moniker that will capture the right flavor. There’s a little open-air bar in Key West that I love called Two Friends. Its motto is: “No greater love than the enduring, tender love of one drunken friend for another.”
My first WIP was set on a sailing ship, with open decks, rolling seas and coarse sailors. Flavored martinis and wine coolers were NOT going to fit in with my characters. Choosing your booze is almost as important as choosing the rest of your bar features. It’s fun to create a whole menu of options (okay, not a literal menu). That way, you can pick favorites for each character, decide if certain regions or nations have a “home brew” or just make up an entirely new concoction!