Bars are such a ubiquitous feature of fine dining restaurants, asking why they became and remain such an important feature of fine dining may seem moot. Additionally, the purpose of the bar may seem sufficiently obvious to make a discussion of it seem unnecessary. It’s there because people like to have alcoholic drinks during dinner, or a nightcap afterwards.

While people enjoying a drink with dinner is obviously not an insignificant part of a bar’s appeal, from the downtown Boise restaurants to the most exclusive New York eateries, there’s actually a far more complex and interesting series of reasons that bars and their product enhance the dining experience. And that enhancement of the experience goes beyond serving drinks that make people feel good after drinking them, although that doesn’t hurt.

The Basics

Obviously, there are some basic, pragmatic reasons it’s good to have a bar in a fine restaurant. It’s good for the restaurant because bars tend to have a pretty decent margin, and the same can’t always be said for the restaurant business. Bars also draw in business, as even people coming in to meet someone just for a drink often end up ordering food.

Additionally, a bar typically functions as the main social hub of a restaurant for its customers. The bar is often the natural place for customers to chat and have a drink while they wait for the rest of a party, for their table to open up, etc. There is also a noticeable uptick in the pleasant liveliness of the atmosphere when a round or two of the social lubricant has been distributed.

Why Food and Alcohol Are Complementary

That alcohol makes food taste better is the kind of broad, common consensus that apparently transcends humanity’s divisions. It’s been experienced and noted by everyone from college kids ordering extra pizza for their kegger to well-heeled gourmands ordering another serving of richly marbled American Wagyu beef after their second glass of VeuveClicquot Brut Champagne.

Science stepped in to test this observation, and after some initial suggestions that alcohol was actually just making people hungrier (albeit happier while they ate), research indicated that the relationship between alcohol and eating is actually a bit more complex. According to the study, when alcohol was administered to participants, their brains demonstrated increased responsiveness of the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for certain metabolic processes. In particular, it made the hypothalamus more responsive to food odors than other smells. And more responsive to food smells meant more responsive to food tastes.

The Apéritif Phenomenon

How does this apply to those looking to take advantage of the “aperitif phenomenon” among the fine dining Boise has to offer? Well, the enhancement of food aromas with a drink doesn’t require that much alcohol. In fact, alcohol being an intoxicant means its value as a food-enhancement agent offers diminishing returns the more is imbibed. Alcohol making food taste better doesn’t seem to be an aggregating property, which would mean the more you drink the better food tastes. And even if it were, being intoxicated would dull any increase in flavor.

Finally, there’s the fact that alcoholic drinks have unique tastes that interact with the flavor profiles of a meal. Wine, of course, is particularly complex. Since wine varieties all have distinctly unique flavors, there are other flavors they either complement or clash with. Similar comments could be said about a favored type of beer or beloved cocktail. But regardless of what you’re drinking, there’s likely some food on the menu that would pair well with it. Cheers!

About Chandlers

Chandlers has the distinction of winning Boise’s vote as simply the best restaurant in the Treasure Valley, bar none, repeatedly.Chandlers offers the best steaks in town, including American Wagyu beef cuts, as well as the famous Ten Minute Martini™, the finest seafood Boise offers, and live music for an incomparable atmosphere. Enjoy fresh tuna flown in daily and the most delicious, local ingredients.

Find out for yourself what makes Chandlers so uniquely excellent, at