Quick question for UK dopers.

Although here in the US, establishments that serve alcohol are predominantly called bars, we have places that call themselves taverns, and some even call themselves pubs.

So, my question is then, are there drinking establishments in the UK that call themselves a bar?

Yes, for example places that you might call a cocktail bar.


Bars, in my fairly limited experience, tend to be a bit more upscale and cater more to the yuppie professional crowd, while pubs range from the student-oriented to the snug old village local.

London also has several wine bars, like Gordon’s: http://www.gordonswinebar.com/

Yes. A ‘bar’ is usually a pub that at least has aspirations to being faintly ‘up-market’ or trendy, and wishes to distance itself from the average ‘spit and sawdust’ pub on a street corner.

Just for added confusion, ‘the bar’ refers to the actual physical structure with beer pumps and taps on it and people on the other side serving drinks. So even if you are sitting in what is defiitely a ‘pub’, you will hear people say ‘I’ll just go to the bar and get the next round in’.

You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, when I met you.

I would agree with the above.

There are also clubs of various sorts, for example in the small town where I drink we have the Catholic club, the Miners welfare and Institute, and the Progressive club. There used to be a Royal British Legion Club but that’s closed now.

I cannot say that I have heard “tavern” in general usage here though

On Friday I was at a works do, and we went to a bar for cocktails, then we went on to a pub for a pint, then to another bar for more cocktails.

Decor-wise, the bars were very modern. The pub very traditional.

Confusingly, the first bar used to be a pub but restyled itself as a bar.

The second bar used to be a church.

The term “bar” could also be used to denote different rooms in the pub :-

  • You may come across pubs with rooms marked ‘Public Bar’ and ‘Lounge Bar’ or ‘Saloon Bar’. The Public Bar usually has more modest and functional furnishings, and houses pub-games such as pool and darts, while the Lounge or Saloon Bar is more luxurious, comfortable and conducive to quiet conversation. Traditionally, both prices and social classes were lower in the Public Bar, but these distinctions no longer apply.*

Tell that to my old local. (But in general I agree with you).

I knew this was going to be Freuds before I clicked on it. I used to live just up the same road.

I think there are lots of pubs in Britain and Ireland that have a name like “Cameron’s Bar” - although they are all called “bars” they can be pretty down market.

On the other hand, I would aver that real pubs never have the word “pub” in their title (“public house” is ok) - any that do are trying to appeal to tourists rather than local punters.

I just came back from a week in Brighton, and I have a couple of questions related to this: what is up with the seemingly random closing times? Here in Québec, bars/pubs/etc pretty much uniformly close at 3am, with last call at about 2:30 or so. In Brighton, we got kicked out of one pub at 10:30, another at 12, another at 1… do pubs not WANT people to stay and drink? It seems they all have different liquor licenses, even when located next to another pub that stays open longer. Seems like bad business to me!

FWIW, I did see a few places with “Tavern” in the name.

Scottish licensing laws are different from England’s, but here a “standard” license will only grant you until 11pm. Every establishment then has to apply for a late license to open any later, and this will vary - sometimes 1am, sometimes midnight. It’s very unusual for a normal pub or bar to open after 1am - that’s restricted to night clubs. It’s not to do with bad business; just different culture.

As for places with “Tavern” in the name, it may be the name, but nobody would refer to them as a tavern. For example, near where I am there are two definitely downmarket pubs with the names “Robertson’s Bar” and “The Station Tavern”. One is in no way a bar, and the other is not a tavern - they are pubs.

Ah, that makes some sense. We just couldn’t figure out a pattern to it, and found it hard to figure out where to go. Back here in Montreal, when we go out for drinks, we find a pub-like bar and stay there 'til 3am, and assumed we’d find something similar in England. We weren’t interested in “night clubs”, which appeared to be more cocktails and dancing. We wanted beer and conversation. We also kept going out at 10pm due to my husband’s work schedule (the other people we were with were all his co-workers) - I guess we’ll know to go out early next time. It’s just unusual for us to start drinking earlier than that. Heck, no one hits the bars around here until at least 11 or so!

That said, we did visit some great pubs and had great food in the restaurants, and I’d be happy to visit again any day (especially since my husband is still there for another week!!)

Another use of ‘bar’ is to refer to the place serving drinks in, for example, a theatre foyer.

Actually, my local here in Dublin - not the UK, but extremely similar in drinking culture - doesn’t really fit into the above categories and I would still call it a bar rather than a pub… it’s much closer to something you’d find in the Lower East Side than to most of the drinking holes in this part of the world.

Thanks for the answers. For as far as I can remember, about the only term I’ve ever heard about drinking in the UK was pub. People going to the pub after work, pub culture, pub rock, etc…

So, that just made me wonder if bar was just an American term. Guess I was just being over-simplistic.

I’ll confirm that in my not entirely limited experience, a bar is usually somewhere you get served in the pub.

Yes, ‘tavern’ is rather an antiquated term and not often used these days. You are more likely to find it in touristy places where they will use ‘tavern’ intentionally to try and convey a reassuring olde-worlde tone. But the actual place will probably have as much to do with local history and culture as a 3G phone.

Closing times… normal closing time for a pub is 11pm. After that, if you want to carry on drinking, you go to a nightclub or a private club that has its own bar (intended to be for members only but members can usually sign in 1 or 2 guests). Or people go to a hotel bar. Most hotels are licensed to sell drinks 24 hours a day or as long as they want to, but only to residents. However, there’s nothing to stop one person who is a resident buying drinks for friends. There’s also nothing to stop someone from borrowing a key or other ‘proof’ from a resident in order to buy drinks from the hotel bar, and this is a common practice (sometimes with the willing collusion of an actual resident, and sometimes… not).

Pubs can apply for licence extensions to sell liquor beyond 11pm, but they have to fill in paperwork and get approval from local magistrates, whose decisions can be arbitrary and capricious, to say the least. There was some legislation a few years ago to relax the rules and give more pubs the chance to open later, but it didn’t seem to have much of an effect.