How to Design a Bar in Canada: 20 Bar Design Concepts and Ideas

Sarah JohnsonAuthor

Aside from location and licences, design is probably the most important thing to consider when you open a bar. Space for bartenders to work at maximum speed and servers to weave around tables to ultimately get drinks in as many hands as possible is absolutely imperative to making money.

But what is all of that worth without a memorable experience that will bring guests back?

In this article, we’ll discuss the best bar interior design ideas and how to apply them as you open your own bar. From trend-setting cocktail bars to laidback French-inspired bistros, we’ve got you covered!

Ready to dive into bar decor? Let’s get started.

Restaurant bar design considerations

Creating a beautiful bar is important, but its functionality is essential. As a bar owner, you want to build a space your staff can comfortably work in and easily access all their bar equipment. Some equipment to consider when designing your bar and restaurant include:

  • Ice wells
  • Storage containers and shelving
  • Sinks (both handwashing and dump sinks)
  • Glassware (lots of it)
  • Server station area with garnishes
  • Draft beer lines/kegs

In addition to equipment, you want to make sure your bar area is as spacious as you can make it. One thing about the food and beverage industry is workers are always right on top of each other. It’s easy to run into co-workers during a chaotic shift. Make sure there’s enough space for your staff first and then start considering wall art and ambience.

20 of the best bar designs and concepts

Ready for some inspiration? Here are some of the best bar designs, setups, ideas, and concepts that can help you build your bar vision.

1.  Civil Liberties - Toronto 

This Toronto hotspot features a bold "Cocktails & Dreams" sign, an emblem of its commitment to delivering both classic and innovative cocktails. Civil Liberties presents a laid-back yet sophisticated setting, where the emphasis is on quality drinks and inclusive ambience, making it a go-to destination for cocktail enthusiasts.

2. Cloakroom Bar - Montreal

Tucked behind a bespoke menswear shop, Cloakroom Bar in Montreal offers an intimate speakeasy experience. Its design cleverly combines exclusivity with the building's historic architecture, providing a cosy and unique bar experience that feels both secretive and inviting. The attention to detail in both the decor and the drinks makes this bar a standout destination.

3. Atwater Cocktail Club - Montreal

Initially started as a neighbourhood bar, Atwater Cocktail Club has grown into a destination bar without losing its original vibe. The club offers a warm and inviting atmosphere where patrons can enjoy meticulously crafted cocktails. Its success lies in maintaining a local bar's feel while being a place people travel to visit, showcasing the balance between accessibility and exclusivity.

4. Botanist - Vancouver

Nestled within the Fairmont Pacific Rim, Botanist is more than just a bar; it's a haven of botanical wonders. The bar features a lush, garden-like interior that complements its innovative cocktail menu inspired by the principles of botany. 

5. Bar Pompette - Toronto

 Offering a slice of Paris in Toronto, Bar Pompette exudes a French café atmosphere with its chic and uncluttered design. The bar is a testament to the elegance of simplicity, providing a relaxed yet sophisticated setting where guests can enjoy an array of French-inspired cocktails and bites.

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Restaurant Menu Templates

Use these menu templates as a starting point for your menu design or to give your menus a refresh.

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6. Bar Raval - Toronto

This Spanish-style bar boasts a Gaudi-esque interior, making it a visual masterpiece as much as a gastronomic one. Bar Raval is known not just for its beautiful, sculptural woodwork but also for its tapas and Tinto Fino, encapsulating the essence of Spanish culture and craftsmanship. 

7. Mother Cocktail Bar - Toronto

Unique for its live jazz sets and serious approach to cocktails, Mother Cocktail offers a vibrant ambience where creativity in mixology shines. The bar's design supports an atmosphere that encourages the exploration of new flavours, making it a favourite among those seeking an adventurous night out.

8. The Keefer Bar - Vancouver

With a design inspired by apothecary aesthetics, The Keefer Bar stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of thematic design. This Vancouver institution pairs its unique decor with innovative cocktails, creating an immersive experience.

9. Milky Way - Montreal

The entrance to Milky Way sets the tone with black-lights, inviting guests into a space that feels otherworldly. The bar's design plays with light and colour to create a space that's both intimate and fantastical, perfect for those looking to escape the ordinary.

10. Laowai & Blnd Tger - Vancouver

Hidden behind a dumpling shop, Laowai & Blnd Tger offers a clandestine experience; the thrill of discovery and the bar's unique entrance (behind a freezer door!) add to its allure. This venue is a visual feast, a sanctuary where the opulence of 1930’s Shanghai is brought to life with meticulous attention to detail. 

11. The Coldroom - Montreal

Tucked away in Montreal, The Coldroom is like finding a secret hangout spot that only you and your coolest friends know about. Kevin Demers, the visionary behind this speakeasy, has masterfully converted what was once an industrial cold room into a sanctuary of sophistication and comfort. Known for being a hotspot, you might even spot a few local celebs hanging around! 

12. Bar Henrietta - Montreal

Another Montreal gem, Bar Henrietta offers an upscale twist on traditional Portuguese taverns. This space combines rustic elements with modern touches, featuring an extensive wine selection. This blend of the old and new creates an inviting atmosphere that's both sophisticated and relaxed, making it a standout destination in Montreal's vibrant bar scene.

13. Proof - Calgary

In Calgary, Proof is a bar that values the story behind each cocktail. The design features old-school shuttered doors, walls that look like they've got stories, and some raw steel for an edgy touch. It's like stepping into a spot that feels lived-in yet slick at the same time.

14. El Pequeño Bar - Montreal

Montreal's smallest bar, El Pequeño offers an intimate Cuban experience right in the heart of the city. The design utilises the small space to its advantage, creating a cosy atmosphere that's rich with Cuban culture, from the decor to the rum-based cocktails. It's a little slice of Havana that celebrates the joy of simplicity and the art of good drink.

15. Alobar Yorkville - Montreal

Tucked away in a cool part of Yorkville, Alobar seamlessly mixes the feel of a cocktail hangout with a top-notch restaurant. It scored a Michelin Star in 2022, showing off its fancy seafood and grill options. The place has a laid-back patio that’s perfect for soaking up the summer sunshine with some cold drinks. It's a stylish yet cosy place to unwind and treat yourself.

16. The Shameful Tiki Room - Toronto & Vancouver

With locations in both Toronto and Vancouver, The Shameful Tiki Room transports guests to a Polynesian paradise complete with exotic cocktails and a dimly lit, tropical-themed decor. The immersive experience is enhanced by the detailed design, from the thatched roofs to the tiki statues, offering a fun escape from the everyday.

17. Lot Six Bar & Restaurant - Halifax

In the heart of Halifax, Lot Six offers a vibrant atmosphere with its airy atrium and lush greenery. The bar's design merges historical elements with modern touches, creating a space that feels both timeless and contemporary. The cocktail menu, with its focus on fresh, local ingredients, mirrors the bar's commitment to combining the best of past and present.

18. Bar Bricco - Edmonton

This Edmonton bar excels in creating a warm and inviting atmosphere with its minimalist design and focus on quality over quantity. Bar Bricco's intimate setting is perfect for enjoying Italian-inspired small plates and an excellent selection of wines and cocktails. 

19. Taverne Atlantic - Montreal

Opening its doors in 2019, Taverne Atlantic quickly became a go-to spot for those looking to enjoy inventive cocktails on a lush, quirky rooftop terrace. The interior is inspired by a mix of Art Deco and retro designs, offering a space that feels both chic and inviting. With plants and bistro-style seating, the terrace is a perfect spot for sunny afternoons or cosy evenings under string lights.

20. Bar Mamie - Montreal

Bar Mamie is all about retro, homely feels with a touch of French countryside charm. Think vintage decorations, flowered plates, and those classic checkered napkins that might rexmind you of family dinners. The staff's all about making you feel like part of the family, so it's no wonder the place has quickly become a local fave. It's laid-back, friendly, and just the spot to hang out for a relaxed drink.

Set your bar up for success

Now that you’ve read about these 20 incredible bar design ideas, pick and choose what details make the most sense for your bar layout. What comes after that? Your bar will not succeed without the right staff. Great bartenders respect their craft and are creative, motivated, and excited to come to work every day. 

To find excellent candidates, you can use sites such as:

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