When you want to unwind, a place with a relaxed ambiance and your favorite drink is sometimes the best option. So, where will you go—the bar or a pub? Wait, aren’t these the same? Not really. There are more differences than you’d expect.
Bar vs. Pub
The word “bar” refers to the counter from which a bartender serves drinks. “Pub” is another name for a public house. All pubs are bars, but not all bars are pubs.
Bars are licensed to serve hard liquor. In a bar, you can order beer, cocktails, liquor, and wine, among other types of drinks. In pubs, the emphasis is on ales, beers, wines, and ciders. Drinks at pubs tend to be more affordable and are commonly run by breweries. If you want good drink prices at a bar, be on the lookout for happy hour.
In a bar, if there is a menu, you’ll normally be able to order small bites or appetizers. Pubs usually have a full menu, complete with appetizers, salads and soups, entrees, and desserts.
Bars usually attract night owls, dating couples, or people ready to cut loose and party. Because of this, bars usually stay open late or right until a state’s regulated closing hours. For example, bars are allowed to stay open until 4am in New York City, but only 2am in Connecticut. Pubs typically operate till midnight.
Children are not allowed into bars or allowed to sit at the bartop at a restaurant. In the U.S., the minimum age for entry into a bar is 21 years old. In pubs, the minimum age of entry is 18-21 years old. However, children can enter when accompanied by adults. This is because pubs are also restaurants.
Entertainment and Clientele
Entertainment in a pub and bar differ, mainly due to the clientele they serve. Bars are great for a lively scene, with bands, karaoke, live music, dance floors, and sometimes exotic dancers. Those who frequent bars tend to be young and very often bar hop from place to place. Older patrons, locals, and families usually prefer to go to pubs—they typically don’t get as rowdy as a bar. You’ll find jukeboxes, billiards, dart boards, snooker, and dominoes.
Bars like to create a social ambiance. Because of this, bars can feel like a night club—or they can feel like a good place to cry to the bartender over a breakup. Pubs tend to lean more towards a casual sports bar feel, with TVs, servers, and decent lighting.
The next time you go out with a group of friends, definitely remember the differences between a bar and a pub. Where you end up will set the tone of the night. If you want a party, best go to a bar. But if you don’t mind everyone on their phones at the table, and don’t want to wake up with a hangover, try a pub.