The ‘Best of Times’ Tailgating Bar
by Bruce Raffel
The ‘Best of Times’ Bar instantly transforms your tailgating experience into a whole new level of entertaining, as you can show your Baltimore Ravens pride in style with this portable and easy to set-up bar. Packaged into a movable suitcase with wheels, it stores in the trunk of your car, then blossoms into the best-looking tailgating bar in the stadium parking lot.
It comes in a ton of different team colors, from college to pro sports, as well as tropical and other styles. Built of high grade materials, it is solid to hold the weight of whatever you put on it, yet light enough to be moved around and set up by one person in minutes. It comes with an L-shaped bar which holds an umbrella and has a built-in cooler to stores cold food and beverages. A separate matching table holds your portable grill in addition to four matching bar stools.
The team colors are removable and attach via a series of Velcro tabs, letting everyone around know you are a true fan, as you can see in the above photos of mine, which was set-up quickly by my son right out of the box without any problems.
By: Mike on Oct 20th 2011
I have been in the market recently for a decent canopy and new table in an effort to improve my tailgating experience. The football in Denver might not be what it should be, but the parking lot is as good as it has ever been. Seriously, I would put our fan’s tailgating setups and hospitality up against anyone in the league’s. My good friend, and co-owner, Lee asked if I had seen one of the new ads that came up on our site. Of course, I hadn’t (sorry ad folks) because I rarely look at them but I am VERY happy that I clicked on this one.
The ad was for the Best of Times Bar, who happen to be a partner with the folks that we partner with for ads . . . .so it’s family, yay! I noticed that they offer a free trial for the setup, so I shot them an email asking if I could be fortunate enough to get one in order to review. Thanks to Alex, I had my setup here in less than a full week, complete with a Denver Broncos wrap. The timing was perfect, because it was just in time for the Broncos and Chargers game this past weekend. The Best of Times Bar is basically a portable bar. Read that again boys and girls . . . A PORTABLE %$#*&@# BAR! The company touts being able to quickly assemble this bad boy in minutes and be on your way to making everyone in the parking lot drool. They are correct on both counts, but I will get to those later.
The setup is available in a few different packages. You can design your order to include the bar stools (do it) as well as a grill stand. In addition to the different wraps that they offer, you can get any of the 32 NFL teams, several NCAA teams, a NASCAR wrap for Dale Earnhardt Jr. or you can have a wrap custom made. But wait . . . there’s more! You can split the cost of the setup into payments to make it even more affordable! I was absolutely drooling when I saw the pictures, and felt like a kid on Christmas when I got to put this thing together. Upon receiving my setup, I couldn’t unbox it fast enough. I decided to set it up in my backyard for a trial run and really get a feel for how it works and see if it’s as easy as it seems. Who am I kidding . . . I set it up because I am a 37 year old child. But I digress, it’s exactly what it’s cracked up to be. I had it unboxed in a matter of 10 — 15 minutes and set up in about 5 — 10 minutes. Truthfully, I was going back and forth from directions to material so I could have cut the time down but it was still very fast. Here are some pictures from the initial set up using the default tan wrap they sent along with the Denver Broncos wrap.
After I had it set up, I decided to see how quickly I could swap out looks. If it took me 5 minutes to change everything out, I would be shocked. I completely transformed a bar that looked like it would be ideal for a patio BBQ or pool party into a full-fledged Denver Broncos tailgating center of glory. The umbrella, bar, grill stand and chairs were all completely different, and ended up looking like this:
The next step, and possibly just as important as setup, was the break down time. Sometimes mother nature won’t play nice, so being able to break down and pack up quickly is aÂ bonus. Not to mention, you really maximize your tailgating time with not having to worry about setup and breakdown times. I was able to break it down and pack up the set in less than 5 minutes easily.
And now, for some of the details, the nitty gritty if you will. The bar was surprisingly solid. When I say that, I don’t mean that I was expecting some piece of cheaply constructed crap but I was curious and maybe a little skeptical with the quality of something portable like this. The folks from Best of Times Bar didn’t skimp on quality, I can say that with full confidence. The metal frames are extremely solid and well built. I was actually a little surprised at how heavy they are, and that is not a bad thing. The shelves and counter tops to both the bar and the grill table are made of material much like you would find on a lot of camping tables. It’s very sturdy, and light weight. There are notches for each piece to fit into the others as well as magnets to secure some pieces to the metal frame. On the bar counter tops and the grill table top there are locking levers that keep the counter tops attached to the frame. Such a small, but awesome addition that really lends to the engineering and design that went into this setup. I was also very pleased with the height of the bar. I am 6’3â€³ and it was just perfect for me but it’s also not so high that those who are not as tall as I am can do just fine with it.
The wraps are also extremely durable, and seem like they will do very well over time and through the elements. They fasten to the frame and grill table with velcro on the sides, top and bottom. I was also very impressed with the construction of the umbrella. It comes in 2 pieces and is extremely sturdy and well built. The umbrella locks in the open position and has a pin to keep it from closing unexpectedly. I also did not notice at any point that it was wobbling or causing any sort of imbalance with the bar itself. I say that with confidence as we really leaned on, ate on, drank on and used the bar for all it was worth at the game. Speaking of stability, the bar itself has feet that pull out to add more stability. The bar stools are also very well built. They are rated for 200 lbs but I can assure you, they work fine for people that weigh more than that. I am around 225, and I felt very comfortable on them. They are made of metal with aÂ comfortableÂ seat top and they also feature a locking pin so that they won’t collapse when they are open. The bar also includes a cooler which fits nicely into a shelf. You can zip it up, and it has an insert that keeps the sides stable and upright. We used the cooler and I have no complaints so far, it did it’s job and is made from very nice material both inside and out which seems very durable. We did use a grill on the grill table and I was pleased with the height of it. In other words, I wasn’t leaning over to cook (maybe some of you would like that . . . this isn’t that kinda’ party) and it also wasn’t so high that I would feel uncomfortable putting a hot grill on there. It is very stable, which is obviously a key for something you will put a grill on. It’s also built so that you could easily fit a propane tank inside or use it to store other things. I should make some reference points as well in terms of how much room it takes up broken down and all set up. I have a Nissan Xterra which isn’t a real large SUV, and I got all of this in the back and was able to get the rest of my tailgating needs in just fine. There is a travel bag with wheels available that really enhances the storage and portability of this setup as well. When fully set up, it is designed to take up no more than a parking stall and it worked out perfectly for us.
I was surprised at how many comments I had about the setup, it was clearly something that was different and drew people in to talk about it. I am keeping names out of this to protect the innocent but these are actual quotes from people this weekend:
“Wow man, you $%^$# win!”
“My God, is that a bar? You have a bar, with Broncos stuff on it? I want one!”
I heard at least 5 of these: “Wow, that is awesome!”
“That would be awesome at home!” (after I let them know you can get non-sports wraps for just such a thing) “Oh man, my wife is going to hate me”
No she won’t brother, well . . . maybe, but your friends will love you.
So, enough of my yakking, here are a few pros and cons along with my rating and a video I put together showing the basic setup of the bar.
Very fast setup and breakdown
Shelf space and counter top area
Solid construction, very stable
Durable material on the wraps, stools and cooler
Comfortable and sturdy stools
The surfaces are a little slick (more on that in a second)
Room for some accessories (again, keep reading)
I will be honest, I struggled to find many “cons” with this product. I wanted to be fair and I really was keeping an objective eye on the thing from start to finish. When I say the surfaces are slick, I mean that when you put a wet glass or bottle on them you could tell it would slide given the right amount of force. In fairness, I was using a bottled beer all day yesterday, fresh and wet from the cooler and I never had an issue but it’s worth mentioning anyhow. In the interest of being constructive, I think you could easily find some rubber matting or evenÂ place matsÂ and use them if it’s a concern. Another thing I thought would be nice, and it’s really not fair I suppose to make it a con, are some accessories. Some hooks for grilling utensils that clip on the edge of the counters, or hooks made for a trash bag or paper towel roll to attach to the bar counters. I am reaching a little with cons, but I could have gushed for pages with the list of pros on this product.
If you are in the market for a new setup, or just want to be the hit at any tailgate you go to . . . this is a must have. I haven’t even had the pleasure of using it for a BBQ at home yet but I know that will be a hit also, it’s just that slick of a product. I wanted something functional, and had no idea I would end up with something functional that had such a “wow” factor to it that people would ask where I got it. Depending on the setup you get, they could cost as much as just under $400 plus shipping and handling. It seems expensive, but if you break that up into 8 payments, it’s very affordable for any budget. Well worth the money in my opinion.
In the end, I give The Best of Times Bar a 5 out of 5 rating.
Check out their website. Also be sure to follow them on Twitter @BestOfTimesBar
By: Brandon Oct. 6th 2011
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.