I tend to place tailgaters and their parties in different levels. On one level we have the “trunk”-gaters that usually have a grill, table, cooler, and a couple of chairs. The next would be the folks who set up the tent, and have the TV going. This trend continues all the way up to the RV or converted bus crew. Personally, I usually fall somewhere smack dab in the middle. I don’t drive an RV to the game, but it’s pretty rare that I just take the bare essentials. Sure I keep it simple every now and then, but occasionally I follow the other saying of “Go Big or Go Home.” The hard part is finding things to take it to that next level. Well it seems that luck was on my side because not more than a week after I first saw it, we were asked to review the Best of Times Bar.
While this isn’t the first portable bar system that we’ve reviewed, it is the first that I have personally tested. Among those things that I wanted to test were portability, ease of set-up, functionality and overall response. Naturally I’ll also begin things off with a quick overview of construction, and quality. Since I will be referencing them in the review I am going to put the pictures up before, so that you can see what I’m talking about.
(Disclaimer: We did receive a sample Best of Times Bar for free. The fact this sample was provided to us in no way influenced our opinion of the product nor did it impact our ability to test and review the product fairly and objectively.)
After playing with it for a while I can say with certainty that the Best of Times Bar seems to be quite well built. The frame is made of steel which, while adding weight, does make the product feel very sturdy. The shelving is made of molded plastic and feels very similar to some folding tables I have seen at various tailgates. The fabrics used for the wraps is much heavier than I expected, and feels to be very durable, yet not “tarp” like. The folding bar-stools, while only rated for 200lbs, did not feel like they would buckle with more than that weight placed on them. I would be remiss if I didn’t clearly state that exceeding the weight limit is not advised, and doing so is at your own risk. Lastly the included cooler bag has a good quality feel to it, and seems like a very durable component of the Best of Time Bar. Since we’re talking about build quality it seems appropriate to say that the Best of Times Bar boasts a 10 year warranty which, to me at least, says something about the quality the manufacturer expects.
As I mentioned before, the first test looked at was portability. By looking at the pictures you can probably infer that the Best of Times Bar is not some tiny little thing that you just throw in the car, and you’d be right in that assessment. For starters it does have some legitimate heft to it. Now I don’t have the most precise scale but I found the Best of Times Bar to weigh about 63lbs. This may not seem like too much to start with, but when you are getting ready to tear your party down after a long day, any weight is going to be exaggerated. The upside is that the whole thing collapses down and fits into a nicely constructed wheeled storage bag that is included with the bar. The frame has hinges so you just fold it up, and because of the hinges (unlike a map) you can’t really mess it up. The shelves take up the most volume, but if you stack them on the frame in the bag, and put the velcro strap over them, it should zip up easily. You can see what I’m talking about in the pictures above. Once in the bag you can roll it around to where you want it, and in case you had any doubts, they rolled on grassy ground just fine. The stools have a bag of their own (the smaller of the 2 in the pictures), but that is much lighter and easily managed. I would have liked to see a bag for the umbrella, but storing it in the box doesn’t seem like too much of a trade off. Altogether it seems like the typical tailgater would be able to handle the Best of Times Bar with little difficulty.
For the the second test I wanted to look at how easy the Best of Times Bar is to set up. As we all know, more set-up and tear down time means less tailgating time. A quick description of the assembly of the Best of Times Bar would go:
- Open up the frame
- Put the 6 shelves in
- Insert the cooler into the cooler shelf
- Place the wrap around the bar
- Slide the umbrella in and open it (if you took the cover off you’ll want to put it back on before opening)
- Open up/cover the stools
My first attempt at it all was pretty slow, however my subsequent assemblies became much faster. In fact, I was able to get everything downstairs, set it all up, take pictures, drink a beer (it is a bar after all), pack it up, carry it back upstairs, and set it up again in less than 40 minutes. I feel confident that if I started the timer with everything in my set-up location that I could assemble the Best of Times Bar in less than 10 minutes. Truthfully, for what you end up with, it’s incredibly easy and quick to do.
When I think of a bar I don’t think of a table with some liquor on it. Thankfully the Best of Times Bar is a whole lot more than a folding table with a fancy cover. The overall counter height is comfortable enough for either standing or sitting . With ample shelf space, and the drop in cooler you could do a lot with this set up. Speaking of that drop in cooler, it has a cover that closed with a zipper so you can fill it up at home and transport it full. I can see myself filling that thing up with plenty of ice and brew to make for a wonderful tailgate. The middle shelves have enough clearance for the typical grocery store mixer bottles, and your typical 750ml bottles. What doesn’t fit there will certainly go on the bottom shelves with room to spare. Short of a sink I don’t really know where you would make improvements.
Next I wanted to gauge what people thought of the Best of Times Bar. In fact one of the things I like to do with all my product reviews is just show people pictures and ask them what they think. And since I’m approaching this product as a way to up your game, so to speak, this is a very important test.
First I showed the Best of Times website to a couple of my coworkers, and I would say that the reception was very positive. From there I sent pictures of the actual sample I received to my friends, both those that I tailgate with and those that I don’t. This time I was met with a lot of “Yeahs!” Finally I posted a picture of the sample product to my personal Facebook page. Among the things posted there was an “Oh my goodness”, “I will own this…”, a “Like”, and “Oh. I’m interested.” Needless to say I think that you would meet a similar reception if this were to show up at your tailgate.
I am a huge fan of getting the most bang for your buck, and the ability to change the appearance with different wraps increases the range of the Best of Times Bar even more. As you can see from the pictures mine was dressed in Buffalo Bills colors, but they have a ton of different wraps available. In fact, on Friday night you could have a home luau with the tiki wrap, on Saturday you can dress it up in your school’s colors, and then on Sunday you could have it sport your NFL team’s logo. Since the wraps are super easy to change, the ability to change the look of the Best of Times Bar is probably one of it’s biggest selling points. If you’re curious to see what designs they offer, they have a have a great tool on their website to check them out.
My final impression of the Best of Times Bar is that given the right circumstances, it is most definitely Tailgate Approved. For the small scale family that goes to a game a couple of times a year, it may be overkill. On the other hand if you’re a die hard every weekend tailgater you would love this. But mostly I would say that if you’re in a bit of a tailgating rut, the Best of Times Bar may be just what you need to break out.
The Best of Times Bar starts at $399 and is available at bestoftimesbar.com.