The Difference Between a Bar & a Pub

Written by don rainwater
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The Difference Between a Bar & a Pub
Bars and pubs differ in clientle and atmosphere. (Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

While both bars and pubs are establishments that serve alcohol, the two places have several distinctions. A pub, short for public house, is a traditional British drinking establishment that has been around since the Bronze Age. Bars are also drinking establishments and come in a variety of types.

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Bars and pubs generally have a different type of clientele and ambience. Pubs have been historically located in British villages, and thus become a favourite of locals. They also tend to have a more mature crowd, including executives and other business people. On the other hand, many bars feature a younger crowd, especially ones that feature dance floors and DJs. Some other varieties of bars can attract a mixed age range of customers or a more mature crowd, as well.


Traditional pubs, including British and Irish pubs, are typically more relaxed gathering places, whether typically frequented by younger or more mature clientele. Many pubs have pool tables and other games for their patrons. However, the ambience can be quite different in the two establishments. Because so many types of bars exist, the ambience can include a dance bar, a singles and a music bar. Generally, bars are more likely to have entertainment, such as live music or dancing, and tend to be busier and louder than pubs.


Although most pubs tend to have a more relaxed atmosphere for locals to gather and enjoy games and conversation, bars tend to be louder, busier establishments. Bars, unlike pubs, are more likely to have a theme. Some examples include gay bars, dance bars, which often have live entertainment, especially in the form of DJs, as well as special events, karaoke bars, which often have a steady crowd of regular patrons, and sports bars, where people gather to watch sports games.

Food Served

One of the most common differences between pubs and bars is that nearly all pubs serve food, while many bars serve little or none. Pubs typically serve proper meals. Traditional food served in British pubs includes shepherd's pie, fish and chips, pastries and other traditional British fare. While some bars serve food, many just serve light snacks and appetizers. However, "restaurant and bar" establishments serve a full restaurant menu. Many restaurant and bars are also open longer hours than other bars because they serve food throughout the day.

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