I'm going to start this story out with a disclaimer. I love a good bar boat. I think it represents everything fun about entertaining on the water and I'm convinced my next boat will include a full entertainment center. The only caveat is the fact that my husband and I don't drink alcohol for personal reasons. That's the great thing about a bar boat. It's for everyone, no matter your preference. The last part of this disclaimer is that it is never, under any circumstances, okay to boat under the influence of alcohol. So if you are buying a bar boat for this reason, please reconsider.
Now that we've got the basics out of the way, let's get down to what makes a bar boat stand out from the crowd.
This last summer, five of my co-workers and myself were on a brand new 27-foot Grand Tahoe. We were checking it out, when someone pushed a button and all of a sudden something started rising from the bar area. It was a hidden, electric wine rack. We were like two-year-olds who just discovered Sesame Street as we gathered in a circle and watched it come up and down.
When we got back to the office, I sent Greg Knight, director of marketing for Avalon and Tahoe pontoons, an email and told him how much we enjoyed the boat and asked if it chilled wine while it was in the down position.
His response? “The wine doesn’t get chilled, but remember red wine is best at room temperature. That way, as long as you aren’t driving the boat, you’re good to go.”
We non-drinking, entertainment boat-loving people have so much to learn.
But a good bar counter draws people in and creates conversations. That’s why I love the whole concept. If you choose the right layout, you don’t really sacrifice any room and some bar boats come with up to four bar stools, which creates more seating when you’re floating along.
A bar boat is good for much more than just mixing drinks. The counter space allows you to prepare food and have children eat in a contained area. A good bar also comes with drawers, which means more storage. I was recently on a Grand Entertainer from Premier and the bar had hooks under the ledge to hang your purse on. I’ve been told I’m easily entertained but, I have to be honest, I was jumping up and down with excitement. It’s not really set up to secure your purse while you’ve moving at top speeds, but if you’re meeting your dock mates for dinner on your boat, it’s the perfect setup.
When the PDB team decided to put this story together, we sat down and debated about the top bar boats on the market. We went over layouts, features, standard features and available options in order to finally settle on this top six list. We think these are the best of the best when it comes to bar boats.
PDB’s Top Entertainment Bar Picks
Bennington 2550 RCB
Bennington has done a lot with its pontoons over the last 20 years. New for 2014, the bar feature is available as an option on more of its lines than ever before. It's very functional performance-wise, while still accommodating the need to entertain a large group of guests because it can carry up to 15 passengers comfortably. The plush pillow-top club seating is in the stern with port and starboard chaise lounge bench seating in the bow. The entertainment bar features pub height contoured faux stone countertops with Blue Ice LED perimeter lighting. It's very comfortable to sit at the bar even while underway. The entrainment bar offers abundant counter space for prepping food along with storage and an optional refrigerator and stainless steel grill. It's nice to be able to extend the backyard onto the water; you can leave the house and still feel all the comforts of home.
Harris FloteBote Crowne 250
The bar area of your boat is sure to attract the attention of all your friends and family, but of course you still need seating and loungers for enjoying the scenery as you cruise. That’s why the Crowne 250 offers an entertainment floor plan with a bi-level counter space that includes height adjustable bar stools, along with rear-facing loungers and full bow seating. The bar offers amenities like a sink with faucet, an easy-to-access fridge drawer, secure wine cellar and plenty of room to plug in a blender or set out a grill.
Having a pontoon boat set up to entertain can make your boat even more enjoyable. Current Crowne owners have likened the entertainment bar floor plan to having a high-end patio on the water. But this high-end patio offers more because it can pull water sports enthusiasts one moment and then cater to the evening cocktail party group right after.
Premier Grand Entertainer
We love a good bar boat around here and one that almost all of our staff have personally been on is the Grand Entertainer by Premier. This boat gets better and better every year and this year’s version holds nothing back. The company calls it the Island Bar and it comes standard on the Grand Entertainer. This is the first boat that introduced the bar concept to pontoons back in 2010.
"For the past 20 years Premier has set the bar in innovation, introducing the Grand Entertainer and full bars into the pontoon industry is another one of our proud accomplishments," said Bob Menne, president of Premier Marine.
On the Grand Entertainer you can control the height on the four bar stools that include a foot rest and LED blue accent lights. Another great feature that is above the bar is a cabana top that includes 8 glass holders with plastic glasses. Other key amenities that make this one of our favorites is the stainless electric fridge, locking drawer, a large electric sink with a soap dispenser, ice bucket and a whole lot more.
Sanpan 2500 FE Bar
For the entertainer, the SP 2500 FE Bar has everything a host or hostess could ask for. This full bar that includes built-in cup holders and a 12-volt outlet that is intended to power up the most beastly blender, it is literally a floating party ‘toon.
“The bar boat quickly becomes the mother ship, the base of operation. The best thing about it is it’s just as much fun tied up at the dock as it is on the sandbar,” says Bob Wachs from Nautic Global Group. “While we certainly didn’t invent the idea of having a bar on the boat, we take the creativity of the space to a whole new level which attracts customers to our pontoons.”
Gone are the days where the vacant table sits under the seats because this perfectly designed bar creates an area where people can talk, children can color and guests can just generally relax without sacrificing any space flow.
Several different Magma grill options are available. Below the bar are three stainless steel drawers for storage. Each drawer has a specially designed mesh lining that is built to give while you are cruising through the water.
“The 2500 FE is one of our most popular models,” adds Wachs. “The front of the boat feels like a living room setup, a very, very nice living room setup. The aft-deck has a beautiful and functional bar. That was exactly what we wanted to do when building this boat.”
Sylvan Mandalay 8525 Bar
The Mandalay 8525 Bar pontoon boat brings everything to the table, or the bar in this case. This unique aft bar creates the ultimate fun boat, which is exactly what you need while you’re entertaining at your lake house.
The layout on this boat is the perfect bar setup. It makes a triangle with the top end opening up to the rear entry gate. While you have a bar on your boat, you still have ample walk room from the rear to the bow. Built with Sylvan's RPT tubes, this boat is made to perform as well as entertain. Perfect, right? The bar area contains a sink, refrigerator and plenty of counter space to make the whole fit together.
Tahoe Vision 27’ Entertainer
The Tahoe Deco Series has revolutionized and changed pontoon boating forever and the Deco Series Vision takes pontoon boating to new heights of design and style. The 27-foot Entertainer is the flagship of four unique interiors. The Entertainer features a fiberglass Bistro bar with Corian Style top and four bar stools with stainless steel seat brackets. The Bistro is illuminated with blue mood and cup holder lights, as well as a built-in cooler with smoked glass lid. Across from the bistro the full entertainment center provides a luxurious way to keep and prepare food. The entertainment center features a Full Corian style surface and is equipped with an electric refrigerator, large sink with a stainless faucet, and the industry’s only hidden electric wine rack that raises with the touch of a button.