10 Ways To Build The World’s Worst Bar

It’s easy to mock “Bar Rescue” because it should be the greatest show in television history and it manages to fall just a bit short, ranking somewhere in the upper-middle echelon along with “Kate and Allie” and “Good Times.” But even though it’s not everything it could be, it’s still reliably good and occasionally transcendent.

A quick synopsis in case a couple of sad souls out there haven’t seen it: The host, Jon Taffer, goes to struggling bars and whips them into shape by firing the employee who steals the most blatantly; recommending the owner tone down the sexual harassment; and calling in air strikes on the fruit flies buzzing around the off-brand triple sec shelf. He sweats and screams as he plots out ways to make the dive of the week more attractive to women and employed people. He has a rotating cast of consultants who sweat and scream about other matters. I like the roundish guy with the hat who specializes in exasperation and buffalo wings. It’s a good show. And when Taffer is forced into retirement after his next heart attack, induced by the disorganized bookkeeping at a clown-themed sports bar in a Bakersfield strip mall, these are the things I’m going to focus on as his replacement.


Carpet is universally disgusting, and it’s downright inexcusable in a bar. If the floor is in such disrepair that the only way to class it up is to install a layer of sad gray indoor/outdoor carpeting, you need to burn the building down and start over.

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Continuous TV

I’m not the sort of snob who looks down on televisions in bars under all circumstances (I’m several other sorts of snob, but not that one). They’re good for showing significant sporting events, presidential debates, “Golden Girls” repeats, and so on. But I don’t care for bars where they just blare on aimlessly all day, showing the same irrelevant golf highlights for 18 straight hours.

Reliance On A Single Distributor

Too many bars — at least in Boston, where beer distribution is a notoriously shady racket — demonstrate a CURIOUS LOYALTY to certain middlemen, which might be crooked and definitely affects consumer choice. It’s like buying all of your groceries at a single store: It’s doable, and more convenient, but it’s not going to result in the best possible dinner.

Guinness In A Standard Pint Glass

I don’t know precisely why the going rate is 20 ounces, but them’s the rules, and it’s offensive to deviate from them in broad daylight. Charge an extra 50 cents if you have to, but don’t serve me Guinness in a puny glass.

12-Ounce Cans Of PBR

Same deal. Tallboys or skip it altogether. This also applies to Schlitz, Narragansett, Hamm’s, and whatever similar beers they sell in your region.

Sloppy Commitment To “Local”

I generally buy New England-brewed beer, but I don’t begrudge anybody or bar that likes more geographical diversity. But if you’re going to play the local card, play it thoroughly. Every tourist trap in Boston sells macro beers and Samuel Adams Boston Lager — which is brewed in Cincinnati and Pennsylvania. I don’t hold that against Sam Adams — brew wherever you want to, none of my business — but I do hold it against bars that think this passes as local flavor. Harpoon IPA is the same price and it’s brewed in town. If you want to sell a really good Vienna lager, serve Sam Adams. If you want to sell a local beer, serve Harpoon (or any of the hundreds of other options).

An Extensive “Bomb” Menu

Some tacky people are kindhearted, and tons of them have money to spend, so I get why a bar might need to sell someone a Jager Bomb or a Car Bomb or whatever other dumb shot someone wants to dump into a half-full glass of beer. But just because you tolerate that sort of shit doesn’t mean you should encourage it.

Dumb Bathroom Puns

Even if you’re not one of those humorless killjoys who’s offended by everything (I happen to be one of them because, you see, everything is offensive), if you’re old enough to drink, you’re too old to be amused by restrooms designated for chickens and beavers. Even the classy ones that feature, like, a fedora opposite an ovary, or an enlarged prostate and a pair of high heels, are corny at best. It’s debatable whether bathrooms should be gendered to begin with but we can all agree they shouldn’t be cheesy.

Utter Foodlessness

Food is like television in that it shouldn’t be the focus of a serious bar, but there’s no reason to take the option completely off the table. Even if you’re lucky enough not to have a kitchen, you ought to have some peanuts or potato chips lying around. Or you could go deluxe, like Rudy’s.

Bolted-Down Stools

I know it’s a pain in the ass when people start moving the furniture all around the bar, but anchoring the seats to the floor is not the solution (the solution is administering justice wedgies).

All right, those are the first 10 gripes I could think of today. What do my fellow aspiring Bar Rescuers want added to the list?