Bars Without Women

A friend writes:

My girlfriend was in the Hamptons and could not get into a particular bar because she said that their strategy has gone from letting as many hot girls into the bar to letting as many guys in.

It struck me as perhaps a change in thinking. Hot places in Vegas and Atlantic City still let a disproportionate amount of women in because there’s the perception that that is what makes a bar have buzz.

But at some point, when your bar is already hot, doesn’t economics dictate that guys buy the drinks?

Maybe, but I can’t imagine guys will keep coming in to buy a lot of drinks if the male-female ratio falls too low. Can anybody out there who runs a bar tell us what kind of balance you try to create, and whether you attempt it through timing, pricing, marketing, etc.?

Of course, it may be that women have given up and started avoiding bars because of all the negging.


I can think of a scenario where the bar gender ratio is 100:0, and in a crowded market of bars doing the same thing, it might make economic sense to change strategy if a certain demographic is underserved...


#20, depends on the bar's branding. If it's a sports bar, it will naturally work out to more men. If it's a dance club, it will naturally work out to more women. as #15 said, sports bars already attract enough men, who drop more money. Pulling in more women may even be a detractor in a setting like that (with the exception of hot waitresses and bartenders). At a dance club, where there is little problem pulling in women, they may have to put forth more effort in getting more guys (there must be some threshold where too many women makes the hook-up probability go down).


Basically, it depends:
1-Your bar is so popular that it's always full. In this case, you discriminate not only on gender, but on many other factors. First, you'll try to get close to a 50% ratio. Maybe a few more girls, 55% max. Mostly, you'll want hot girls and rich guys though (ever wondered why guys are usually a bit older than gals in these bars? It's because rich guys are usually olders than hot babes). Or guys who want to look rich.

2-Your bar isn't operating a full capacity. Then you'll try to attract girls. Guys don't want to go to a bar where they can't pickup girls. Woman don't care as much, they can pay their own drink if they have to. In the end, guys go where (hot) girls are, but girls go where they have fun, so girls 18-35 is the demographic you want to target if you have a bar (well, as another poster said, it doesn't hold for some kind of bars, like sport bars, heavy metal bars, etc...)



The harder it is to get in, the earlier people get there, the more drinks they buy.

ils vont

I think it has to do with the fact that the bar is in the Hamptons and probably only open for 4 months of the year, so they have to make their money while they can. A bar in the Hamptons is a unique scenario not the best example of this dynamic.


By Vince's analysis (which I agree with), you'd want to be attracting girls whether your bar is or is not operating at full capacity. Which makes sense to me, that is the strategy I would adopt if I owned a bar: guys come in for the girls, and girls come in regardless, in which case girls get priority. (Take sports bars and other specialist bars out of the equation.) I know guys would not come in if there were too many guys, but that effect is minimized when it's applied to women, even if we assume they want to be hit on, which is not always true.

However, the theory still doesn't cover the hole implied in the article - is the bar actively trying to get a >50% male clientele? If so, what is the reason? I would only actively draft in men over women if the women ratio was far too high - which it shouldn't be happening in the real world: with a large enough sample data (ie. enough people wanting to get into the bar), any time when there is a lot of women, more men would be trying to get in (therefore no point in drafting in men). When there is a lot of men, you don't want more men (therefore again no point in drafting in men). So I'm still puzzled by the above strategy.

Or, as others have pointed out, maybe she was just too ugly to let into the bar. :P



This post would matter more if we could read it as a full RSS feed.


the reason most clubs in my area (South Florida) have more women than guys is that the clubs actively discriminate against guys on the basis of age. Girls 18 and up, Guys 21 and up. I understand what their trying to do, I think this standard should be illegal. Clubs that serve alcohol should have the same age rules for both genders.


Girls go out to bars looking for guys all the time in NY, it makes sense to have a bar known for having all the hottest men, it attracts more girls!


Is it even needed to actively engage in such "gender-fixing"? Just as in any natural, untempered market, guys will flock to the bar where the girls are, and girls will go where they can get free drinks (where the guys are). This quota of sorts of "hot" people will also even the balance, as I know very few men lining up to buy ugly girls drinks.
I am confident that this attempt to create an ideal mix in the bar will be met with failure.


Can you please set up another comment area, one that you must pass some sort of test to get access to? I've always loved this blog, but since you moved to NYT I think the comments have gone down hill. They're mostly not about adding to the discussion anymore, but rather just stating some dumb and mostly irrelevant opinion


#31 Agreed. There was a question posed to bar owners (and managers I assume.) Where's the experience? And dare I ask, analysis?

dan kloke

Following up on Vince..

What you want, as a bar owner or manager, is hot and personable bartenders.

Whether you need male of female bartenders depends on the overall demographic of the region, and your target gropu. Sports bars, for example, (usually) appeal more directly to men, therefore you hire women to tend the bar and wait the tables (cf. Hooters). The same goes for regions like Albuquerque (where I am right now), where the overall population of women exceeds that of men.

In regions where there are more men than women, attractive and friendly male bartenders attract more women, who in turn attract a male following.


Women are not necessarily attracted to a bar by an abundance of men. In fact if there's a lot of men, a girl, me for example, will feel like a piece of meat on a roasting rack; not a pleasant feeling.
Women are enticed to a bar by cheap cocktails, good music, possibility of dancing, possibility of chatting to friends, and yes, the occasional hot man.
Men, on the other hand, ARE attracted to places where women reside. It's just the way it works.
Letting women in, in favor of men, is just plain clever marketing. "Look what we have in here, men! Lots of women!"
Good thing is, the marketing (the girls) actually pay to be there, not visa versa!


Right on Bartender (#4). I want to also chime in for the full RSS feeds.


We had this down to a science in college running fraternity parties. There's a point where girls look around and say "the ratio is too far off" and start fleeing in droves. We actually had to start encouraging guys to invite guy friends to keep the ratio at about 1.5 girls to 1 guy.

It's not an exact analogy b/c we weren't selling drinks. Our goal was, basically, to hook up so we were biased towards a high female ratio. That said, we found that 1.5 was the highest we could get away with.

Also, full RSS feeds would be nice.


Just to add my two cents with a foreigner's point of view... I think this is a very particular American concern. Maybe it's because bars and are perceived over there as mating places (not as much as much as leisure centres) or because people seem to go out only with friends of their own gender (not that many mixed groups)... I'm Spanish and have travelled over Europe and the States, and I think that our reasons for picking one bar over another -unless you are talking about gay bars, and even so- don't really have to do with the gender of the other patrons. This is not to say Europeans have higher motives (I've got friends who go to places for their decoration!), just that it strikes me as a very American conundrum.


Josh, I can see what you're saying but I'd have imagined that in a bar where there are little to no barriers (save for the occasional bouncer, as was present in this case), the free market forces would've meant that any time the female:male ratio approached 1.5:1, the guys would be flooding in to bring it back to equilibrium. In a frat party there may be a smaller sample size (I dunno, depends on how popular you guys were) and more importantly, who knows what people and who gets invited, so there may be restrictions on who enters in the first place.

Also, it'd be nice to theorise about how the intentions between girls in bars and girls at parties differ: are they looking for drinks, a hook-up, or just dancing? That would certainly be affected by the female:male ratio.


I bartended for many years. All the clubs I worked in, we let in anyone who had ID and the cover charge. You can't stay in business long by having discriminatory practices, even if they are legal (and I'm pretty sure not letting people into bars based on their 'hotness' or their gender is not legal).

A hot bar is like a hot stock. There's no rhyme or reason, usually. One week it's up, the next it's down. As a shareholder or bar owner, you're better off with the unsexy kind for most purposes. I guess if you're in the bar or the stock for the big jackpot, you might think differently. The hot stock, though, you'd have to get in there before it's hot.

I can assure you that maybe girls like being 'negged' but few women do.

mike e.

Perhaps this bar has secret employment agreements with a small contingent of "hot" women. Their job is to show up in the bar each night and socialize. This serve as an incentive to men (who are the big spenders)to frequent the bar on a regular basis. With a steady clientele of beer drinking men, the bar doesn't have to worry about the male/female ratio.