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Bar Vs Pub: What's the Difference?

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Even though pubs and bars may seem somewhat similar, they have some major differences. And to my surprise (and maybe yours too), a lot of people don't even know that pubs and bars are two different things. That's when I thought I should play my part to talk about the difference between pub and bar. 

A pub is basically an establishment where you get to buy alcoholic drinks and lots of appetizers as well. Meaning, it does not just sell alcohol but also other food items too.

While on the other hand, a bar sells different kinds of alcoholic beverages, and the diversity is huge. They don't sell heavy foods; rather, they concentrate on alcoholic drinks only, with little or no food. 

Now, that's just the main difference I talked about; there are others. You might want to jump to the details now. 

What Is a Pub?

irish pub
A Typical Irish Pub

The pub is basically the short form of 'Public House.' So yes, the pub is more like a public house, only they're renovated, and you can find alcoholic drinks there.

However, unlike bars, you'll also get other food items as well. You can say it's somewhere in between a restaurant and a bar. They focus on not only the quality of the drinks but also the food as well.

What Is a Bar? 

A Modern Bar

While a pub concentrates on both foods and drinks, a bar is a place where you get alcoholic drinks only. However, since bars only focuses on drinks, you get the maximum variety over there.

Initially, in the US, bars were places where they used to serve brewed spirits and hard liquor. The term 'bar' comes from the higher counter where the bartender serves the alcohol.

Differences Between Pub and Bar

Want to know what makes a pub and a bar different? Here are some common differences.

Alcoholic Beverages 

As we said, a pub offers you both food and drinks. So, if you want to taste a bit of both, you can go to pubs. Alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, desserts, snacks, appetizers, you name it, most pubs offer things you get in a restaurant. However, when it comes to drinks, pubs usually have a minimal menu. 

Since bars, on the other hand, specialize in serving alcohol and alcohol only, their full menu offers you wider options of alcoholic beverages and cocktails. From vodka and beer to vintage rum and whiskey, the diversity will make you go wow.

While some bars do offer snacks and appetizers, they add these items to the menu only to make the alcohol taste better.

Music: Loud or Nah! 

If you step inside a bar, you'll see a younger crowd full of vibrant people. Do you enjoy loud music, want to party, and have fun? The bar is your thing! There's this huge crowd where everyone gets crazy on the dance floor. There are karaoke bars too that let the customers sing.

But not everyone loves loud noise, though. If you want to enjoy some calm and soothing music, you can try going to an Irish pub or a British one. Usually, pubs have arrangements for live music. It's all about a relaxing and calming ambiance. If you're a big fan of rock music, you might want to give the rock pubs a try.

Age Limit

Almost everyone can go inside a pub to have a fun time. Since a pub is a lot like a restaurant, there is not much of a strict age restriction. Yes, it's true that a lot of pubs have this 'age-limit’ sign that says you have to be at least 18.

However, even minors or children accompanied by adults can get inside it since not everyone orders beer or wine. You can simply order some snacks, maybe play with the dart boards a bit. No one will stop you. From teenagers to a senior in his/her 60s, almost everyone can hit a pub.

That said, bars have an age limit since they're serving alcohol most of the time. So, unless you're 21, there's a huge possibility that the gatekeeper won't let you even enter the zone in the first place. Plus, if you're a senior in his/her 60s or 70s, we don't think you'll feel great when the night is pretty young.


Usually, bars are found in large cities. The design, lighting, entertainment factor, and a lot of other things can give you a hunch whether you're stepping inside a high class bar. The ones in the cities are pretty expensive, though.

As for pubs, they're this center point of a community, generally in an Irish or British village. Mostly middle class people go to a pub, but there are high class pubs as well.

Closing Time

While the opening hours of pubs and bars may match, the closing time differs a lot. Most pubs close by 11 PM. At best, you can find some pubs that may still keep their doors open till midnight. However, it's pretty rare that a pub stays open past one.

Bars, on the other hand, are for night owls. In fact, the real party begins after midnight in bars. Bars in New York, for example, are allowed to stay open until 4 AM, while in Connecticut, bars stay open until 2 AM.

Similarities Between Pubs and Bars

So, now you know the differences between pubs and bars. However, despite their distinctive features, they do have some things in common. Let's have a look, maybe? 

Similar Serving Area

Let it be bars or pubs, the bartender serves the drinks across a flat area. This area is known as a 'bar' (quite an irony that a pub has a bar too). Even patrons use the area to sit as well as drink from.

Opening Hours

Usually, both pubs and bars open when everyone finishes their working day. Now, the opening hour may vary. You can find a time difference from one region to another. However, all of the doors open once the locals retire from their working days.


Whether someone owns a bar or a pub, they need a license authorized by the local regulatory body. Not only do they need the license to do the business in a specific area, but also they need a license to serve. As for the key similarity in the licenses, both the bar and the pub match each other when it comes to the hours of operation.

Drinks Served

Beer and wine are the main drinks you'll get in both pubs and bars. Both houses have their self-brewed beers that come with unique tastes.

Some Unique Type of Pubs and Bars

Pubs and bars, like restaurants, hotels and motels, have their different kinds and types. Now, we can't really talk about all the types here, but here are some worth mentioning.

Sports Bars

Usually, customers gather together over here to watch sports on a large screen and enjoy alcoholic drinks. 

Bikers Bar

Biker bars are frequented by bike enthusiasts or motorcyclists. Some of these are owned and managed by locals who have this ‘thing’ for bikes, while others advertise their bars as biker friendly so that they can have more bikers and bike enthusiasts as their customers.

Gay Bars

These drinking establishments cater specially to LGBT supports. There was a time when gay bars were pretty few, and the houses were like a rendezvous point for gay people to socialize.

Now, as the world is accepting the LGBT movement, the Western world thinks there's no need for specific bars for gays since they can openly meet each other anywhere.

Cop Bar

Cops who save the day need a break too. That's when they go to cop bars. As the name says it all, these houses sell alcohol to cops only. After a tiring day of catching and chasing thugs, the off-duty law-enforcement agents step inside cop bars and gather together to have some quality time.

Some Unique Type of Pubs

Town Pubs

They're the regular pubs you see in the center of a town. The locals gather up together to have some food and drink.

Estate Pubs

Estate pubs are very comfortable to spend your time in. These pubs have got two separate rooms and some bench seating. 

Theme Pubs

Theme pubs are houses that align themselves to a specific style, culture, or activity. Their main objective, most of the time, is to attract niche clientele. Examples include sports pubs, Goth pubs, biker pubs, strip pubs, etc.

Lounge or Saloon

As soon as the 18th century came to an end, some pubs added this 'new room' called the Saloon. It's a room where you can enjoy drinks, dancing, singing, comedy, and drama in exchange for an admission fee. Usually, the price can cost you an arm and a leg.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which one is affordable: Pub or Bar? 

Well, it actually depends. Normally, bars are a bit expensive in the first place. Now, there are pubs where you might end up breaking your bank; true! But usually, bars can cost you more than a pub does. It has this 'made for rich people' kinda vibe.

What if an underage gets inside a bar?

First off, the authorities won't even let them enter the bar. Even if they do get in, the teenagers can get fined or apprehended by the local police once caught.

What are some typical foods in pubs?

The menu can vary from pubs to pubs. Common appetizers may include beef stew, egg sandwiches, chicken wings, Irish soda bread, Shepherd's pie, Welsh Rabbit, etc.

Wrapping Up!

So, that was pretty much it about the difference between pub and bar. Now, people who want to have a 'me-time' with no nerve-racking sounds, and that too at an affordable cost, usually go to pubs. However, party freaks will always choose bars over everything else.

Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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