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Be your own bartender

Hallelujah! A bar where there's NEVER a queue to buy a drink. At Minibar in Amsterdam designed by Concrete, guests get their own minibar, serve themselves and drink the night away...

By Editor / 26-03-2009

It's no secret that in Amsterdam, trying to get a drink in a bar can often turn into an ordeal and a half. If you're not flapping your arms around or batting your eyelids or tall/pushy enough, how do you get served??

The answer: let guests serve themselves. At the new Minibar in Amsterdam, designed by Concrete, customers are free to help themselves anytime to their own drinks from their own minibar. Upon arrival they check in, leave some ID, and receive a key to their own personal minibar. This 'bar without a bar' concept is apparently the first of its kind in the world. In fact it's so simple that the owners were surprised that it hadn't already been done before.

The idea for the bar was conceived by a trio of Dutch friends, with backgrounds in the HoReCa, design and the music industry, who wanted to create a nightlife offering that was "more like inviting your friends to hang out in a hip hotel room, than standing in line waiting for a drink at a regular bar." And in every good hotel room, a well-stocked mini-bar is a must: in this case, it occupies a whole wall spanning the entire length of the interior. Several types of mini-bars in a large and small size are stacked in a staggered format, with coloured doors to further differentiate the numbered fridges. The vivid colours also contribute a sense of warmth to the dark interior which features a minimal palette of raw-finishes in concrete and timber juxtaposed with shininess of metal and glass. Guests can choose from a beer bar, champagne bar or a regular bar filled with a combination of drinks, which is a good excuse to sample different combinations (just don't think about the wallet). A rear service wall enables staff to stock the fridges and keep track of who's been drinking what. It was integral to the experience that the lock to the fridge was not opened by a magnetic swipe card but a real key, handily attached to which is a bottle opener. And if you're not as tall as the average Dutch person, mini-bars installed at lower heights allow for easier access.

Guest can choose from different seating options - not too far from their mini-bar of course - depending on their situation. Long tables provide plenty of opportunities to meet new people, low custom-designed banquettes provide cosy lounging areas and a reading table at the rear allows for laptops to be plugged in. The black wall makes an ideal backdrop for film projections or digital wallpaper. The visual identity of the bar was created by Amsterdam design collective Machine.

Don't be surprised if you see another Minibar pop up in other fun cities around the world in the very near future. The identity of the interior and the operating logistics have been structured to allow the concept to be easily transplanted to other destinations. Alongside not having ever having to queue up for drinks, a huge plus of this bar is not having to face a death stare from the bartender when you just can't decide what you want to drink. Enough talking, it's time for a drink!

Prinsengracht 478
1017 KG Amsterdam

Photography: Menno Kok

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