How To Throw A Bar Crawl Like A Goddamn Champion

I have taken classes 101 - 501 on bar crawls, and ladies and gentlemen I am now an expert on hosting bar crawls. I’ve thrown together great bar crawls, and I’ve thrown together bar crawls that dissolve after the 2nd stop. You name it, I’ve taken it as a shot and then drunkenly chanted “to the third stop!”

This whole tradition started back in college. I’m Shannon McNamara, I’m obviously pretty damn Irish, and St. Patrick’s day has always lit a fire in my potato hahaha I don’t even know what that means. Whatever, it’s my stupid blog on the internet I’m keeping that sentence in there.

So senior year I hosted an epic bar crawl for St. Patrick’s Day. We had a group of about 12 people. We got wild. We sang Irish drinking songs. We drank margaritas. We danced. By the end of the night, I literally met a guy at the last stop who paid for plane tickets for me and my friends to go to Florida. That’s a whole other thing, but trust me - good things happen when you bar crawl right. 

So here are the necessary steps to plan your crawl:

1. Send invitations 3 weeks prior

Back in college, you could throw together a party in an hour, invite people 15 minutes beforehand, and they would all show up. But now in the working world, we get fatigued. I need to know my plans a week ahead of time, and if you’re hosting something - you’ll want to get it on the calendar 3 weeks prior, because the most important part of a bar crawl is having a good, solid crew of people that show up.

2. Be democratic about where you go

You should have a general idea of some places you want to stop by, or a route you want to take, but in the Facebook invite, or group chat, or however you’re communicating with your fellow crawlers beforehand - get a voting system for the spots you’ll be heading to.

Hey crawlers! I’m percolating on stop number 3. If you had to choose between Luai’s Tiki Bar for some Pina Coladas and limbo contests, or between McGregor’s Pub for some pints and a Shepard’s pie - where would you want to go?

You get buy in from the group and hone in on that primal urge we all have to be more dedicated and committed to something once we’ve invested in it (even if the investment is a just a simple bar suggestion).

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3. The first stop should always be at your place

100%, absolutely, start the bar crawl at your place. Have some beers, ingredients for cocktails, and a few shot glasses there so everyone can filter in over the next hour and you can all begin your crawl together as a solidified unit. 

4. During the pre-game at your place, draw a map

This is where it gets fun. Have a moderately big piece of blank paper, some crayons, and halfway through the pregame announce that you’re drawing the crawl map. Have multiple people draw the different bars you’re going, arrows on it like it’s a dope ass treasure map, and have everyone in the gang sign their initials on it. This is now your crawl map. Aka your bar crawl bible!


5. Before you leave, play the the song of the crawl

This could be any song, but at this point people will be loose and getting ready for the day/night, so make it a song that everyone can sing along to. 

Our final song before we head to Stop #2! Everyone finish your current drink! 

Then you put on an Irish drinking song, Sweet Caroline, Eye of the Tiger, Piano Man, Dancing Queen I mean any of those baller numbers that everyone can sing along to before you head out. You’re singing together! You guys are now a solid unit you’re the bar crawl gang!! Get that harmony in before you head out into the wild.

6. Have a flag. Seriously.

The most successful crawls I’ve been on is when there was something huge involved. Now, keep in mind, this doesn’t have to be a flag! One bar crawl for St Patrick’s day, I tied a huge Irish flag to a metal pole and we carried that around. For Halloween one year, I bar crawled as Rafiki (the monkey from The Lion King), made his walking stick with hanging coconuts, and that served as our flag. You could get one of those human sized teddy bears, a wizard’s staff - basically anything big that can be passed around the group that serves as a following function.

When you have a group of a dozen drunk people and need to herd them to the next stop, you thrust that flag/stick/teddy bear into the air and shout follow the flaaaggg and the group keeps the flag in their eyesight as you make way to the next stop. 


7. Engage the different tribes equally

Odds are, when you gather a big group for a bar crawl, there will be 3+ different friend groups there. Make sure that as a bar crawl leader you engage with all of the tribes, introduce them, etc. Honestly this should go without saying, but as the commander of the crawl it falls on your shoulders to unite the tribes. I have no idea why I’m talking like John Smith but whatever, it happened. 

8. Don’t be afraid to get spontaneous

If one of the stops on your route looks like it’s packed to the walls, feel free to mix it up! Stop into a different place that catches your eye. Get a hot dog from a street vendor. You’re free to do whatever you want on this crawl so long as the gang all sticks together!

And if you see a bar that looks empty/dead? Don’t be afraid of it. You’ve got a gang of 10+ people with you, head on in and boom now you have essentially a private party! So long as the vibe is good, anything is possible.

What a stumble through memory lane. Honestly, all of this is inspiring me to go and get to planning another bar crawl in the name of “research” for the blog. I think bar crawls are a fantastic way to unite different friend groups, turn an otherwise average night into something memorable, and honestly I just can’t recommend them enough.

Keep in mind, minor holidays are great for bar crawls. Fourth of July, St. Patrick’s Day, hell even print out a huge photo of George Washington’s face, stick it on a stick, and bar crawl for President’s Day! Guaranteed you’ll be a hit at the bar and it’s an easy way to strike up a conversation with anyone while you’re out.

Also, don’t forget to tip your bartenders nicely because you will be drunk and a bit annoying, and a big crowd, you know what I mean.

Happy bar crawling,