Bar Hopping Puzzle Hunt Ideas
February 18, 2011 10:31 AM   Subscribe

I'm planning a bachelor party in a few months. As a surprise for the "bar hopping" part of the evening, we plan to have a puzzle/scavenger hunt from bar to bar. Starting at our dinner location, there will be some puzzle or task that the bachelor has to perform to figure out where to go next (and maybe what to do there). For example: At one bar, he will have to try to buy a drink with Monopoly money. The bartender will know to give him his drink and also an envelope full of scrabble tiles, which he then has to unscramble into a name of another bar and.. well..

We've got four or five half-of-an-idea things like that, and we're trying to assemble them into a full plan. Can you give us some more ideas for puzzles or tasks? Some guidelines:

• He's pretty smart and loves puzzles (obviously).
• It should be something that's still somewhat doable after four or six drinks, but nothing super-easy.
• We don't want to be the source of the puzzles or hints. They should be waiting for him there, or acquired via some third-party means. So "Win a game of pool and then your Best Man will tell you where to go next" is not a good one.
• If it takes him out of his comfort zone a little, that's good. Nothing bawdy or dangerous (or over-drinking) -- I don't want him to refuse to do anything.
• Something that some of the guys with us can help with (or at least observe) would be good.
• I'm expecting to have to set some things up ahead of time, so that's not a restriction. Arranging plans with waiters/bartenders. I've even considered stashing something and a hint would be GPS coordinates

(I'm purposely not mentioning my location and posting this Anonymously, because I know he's a MeFi lurker. I can tell you that we will be on foot in a major city.)
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I love this idea so hard that I want to get a sex change and get married so I can experience it myself!

- Hide a clue in an infrequently-accessed newspaper honor box ("Hardcore Marxist & Poodle Enthusiast Monthly" or somethin').

- Laminate a clue (or stick it in a plastic bag) and hide it in a bar's toilet tank.

- OR, if you can find a bar with one of those "horribly unsanitary loop of towel on a roller" hand-dryer contraptions, write a clue on there in Sharpie!

- Insert a rolled- or balled-up paper clue into an infrequently-probed orifice of a public sculpture.

- Newsstand rebus: give him the names of four or five popular magazines. Have him find an open newsstand and write down the people/things on their covers... which, when parsed together, will form the next clue.

- At least one clue should have to be fished out of a public fountain in some creative fashion.

- Have him order a layered drink somewhere; the colors/names of the various liquors can contribute to the next clue (Kaluha + Pernod = black and yellow = Steelers = nearest douchey sports bar! Also = disgusting, but that's irrelevant).

- During my last in-city scavenger hunt, two of the ABSOLUTE hardest things to find were posters from the losing candidates of the last major political race AND pinecones... I have no idea why, but they were rare commodities.
posted by julthumbscrew at 11:06 AM on February 18, 2011

If the bachelor speaks another language [difficulty depends on his fluency], have him complete a task only in that language. For example, a taxi driver, bartender, only speak to the bachelor in that language.

Have him expect to go to a place (Based on a previous clue), but arrange in advance for the bouncer to refuse the bachelor entry and give him another clue (although I'm skeptical on the bouncer's participation, unless it's a very slow night - regardless, a good starting idea.

If he uses foursquare, you could leave a hint as a todo in foursquare.

- public park nearby ? make him hop on the monkeybars, go down a slide to get the next clue.

- does he look like one of his brothers, friend, someone else in the wedding party ?! Have the bouncer, one of his brothers' friends, random person at the bar, mistake him for that person.

Better yet, if he looks like a celeb, have a couple people act as paparazzi and fawn, hound him for his autograph, picture, mistake him for the celeb, maybe even the bar/club could also 'mistake' him for the celeb and give you vip access.
posted by fizzix at 1:06 PM on February 18, 2011

Go to bar, find a clue hidden behind the condom machine/hand dryer/whatever, and must order a specific, unusual drink, maybe even make one up, like Newlywed. Bartender supplies drink; next instructions are on the umbrella.

Some bars have an exterior that would accommodate a bit of paper or something with the next instruction inside.
posted by theora55 at 2:44 PM on February 18, 2011

Get a girl ahead of time to stash something in the women's toilets. He has to either sneak in there to retrieve it or sweet talk a girl into retrieving it for him.

The drinks thing is good, what you could do is give him a piece of paper with a key,
composed of a list of colours and bar names.

Then you can have a clue which is "order an x, after you have finished it go to the bar listed against the colour of the drink".

You could use this multiple times throughout the night to fill in time between other games.

You could also organise with the bar that when anyone orders a "metafilter burrito" or "metafilter cocktail" or whatever. It should be something that is already on the menu, so the bar is more likely to go along, it's just the name is the code word to put the clue with the meal or drink.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 5:31 PM on February 18, 2011

I've done some similar parties before, although for a pack of teens and not a bachelor party.

Be sure and plan your time well. Five or six bars sounds like a lot in the space of time from the end of a rehearsal dinner to closing time before a wedding day.

My most successful clue stations involved using friends as "plants." Especially if the clue to the next site requires doing something that would make for some funny and mildly embarrassing video to show the next day.

For instance, find a few lady friends who are particularly game who can "just happen" to be drinking at one of the bars you visit. Have them make him dance with them all at once (better if there is no actual dance floor. Even better if these are elder relatives of the wedding party.) and at some point in the song they all snap open their outer blouses to reveal a three part rebus puzzle printed on the t-shirts they are wearing underneath that show the clue to the next place.

Public singing is fun too. I've had "plants" dress up as "tough" types -- construction workers, motorcycle gang members, etc. The players have to go up to these guys and ask for the clue. After giving him a hard time for a few minutes, they burst into a hearty rendition of some touchy-feely love ballad and require your player to sing along. Then one tough guy, who has found his new "special friend" reveals a tattoo with the next clue.

Anyway, it's a lot of trouble to arrange for clue stations with live "plants" but they are the ones that people talk about for years afterwards. I know this by experience.
posted by cross_impact at 8:09 AM on February 21, 2011

I was the one who posted this question. The bachelor party in question was this past weekend, and although it didn't get completed in the traditional sense, everyone had a great time while it was going on. First, the lessons learned:

1) Everyone will have a couple (or three or four) drinks at dinner. The bachelor had had two martinis, wine, and scotch by the time the hunt started. So after one or two stops he was pretty much done. We intended to have four stops after dinner, we only managed two.
2) The puzzles need to be easy. The first couple: good. The third one: oh, christ, what were we thinking?
3) The stops should be close together. If I were to do it again, I'd have two or three puzzles at only a couple different locations. We were in Back Bay area of Boston, and the bars were only a couple blocks apart, but that was enough to make inertia (especially with a big group) a little tough to overcome.
4) You need the right kind of group for this to be a hit. We had the right kind of group.

And now, what we ended up planning:

* We made four packets ahead of time and assigned them to four different people. We brought $5 bars to slip to bartenders or waitstaff when the bachelor wasn't paying attention, along with instructions to not tell him that it was us.
* We also got a puzzle created at Piczzle. Every attendee was given one at the start of the night. They were told that whenever the bachelor swore, to wait a few seconds and then give him the piece. Try not to give him more than one piece per swear, and don't tell him what's going on if he asks.
* At the end of dinner, (a steakhouse), he got packet 1: a Rubik's cube with letters on each face. When solved, it includes a URL that led him to a form letter from K-Mart. Him of an alternate future has paid them to change his past. The letter explicitly tells him to go to Solas. (The bachelor in this case is a Rubik's whiz. Not world-champion caliber, but after four alcoholic drinks and in low light, he solved it in under 8 minutes.)
* At Solas, he got packet 2: a physical form letter with a QR code to a Twitter feed with hints about "his favorite bar". The solution is Bukowski's.
* At Bukowski’s, he gets packet 3: a note with GPS coordinates in a Voynich Manuscript font. This puzzle broke him. Check out how intimidating it is (the center letter). The solution was Corner Tavern, but we never left Bukowski's.
* At Corner Tavern, he would have been given packet 4: Just an envelope filled with Scrabble tiles: AACEHIILLNNORRSSSTUWW. Unscrambled, they say CORNWALLS WHITE RUSSIAN. So the answer would have been to go to Cornwall's and order a White Russian (the drink was a red herring, and was sort of silly. Cornwall's is a bar with a great English beer selection, and I didn't even realize they had a full bar until we were planning this hunt.)
* Cornwall's was the last planned stop. Ideally, he'd have finished the puzzle when we're there. It's a collage of photos of him and his fiancee in the shapes of Kenmore square. The block indicated a location where were going to stash a box. It'll had an embarassing shirt on it and a letter with a sort of "congratulations" note.

The bachelor (my brother) had a great time. We sorta broke his will with alcohol and the Voynich font. But there were 20 guys with us, and it might have been nigh-impossible to get to all of the stops even if he had been sober at the beginning. Did we finish the puzzle as intended? No. Did we have an excellent time doing it? Yes. That's a success in my book.
posted by Plutor at 5:47 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sorry, this is the right link to the cryptogram letter that broke the bachelor.
posted by Plutor at 5:53 AM on April 7, 2011

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