What\’S The Difference Between A Pub And A Bar

When people think about enjoying a drink or a night out with friends, they often use the terms “pub” and “bar” interchangeably. However, there are actually some differences between the two types of establishments. In this article, we’ll explore the distinctions between pubs and bars, and provide some examples of each.

Definition of a Pub

A pub, short for public house, is a British establishment that typically serves a variety of beers and ciders, as well as traditional pub food. Pubs are known for their relaxed and friendly atmosphere, making them a popular spot for socializing and meeting new people.

Pubs often have a long history and are deeply ingrained in the local community. Many are located in historic buildings and have unique features like fireplaces and wooden beams. It’s not uncommon for pubs to be named after local landmarks, historical events, or even famous people.

One of the defining characteristics of a pub is its focus on serving beverages. While most pubs offer a small selection of food options, the primary draw is the wide range of beers, ales, ciders and other alcoholic drinks that are available. Pubs typically have a broader selection of drinks than bars, and many specialize in serving regional or locally brewed beers.

Definition of a Bar

While a pub is typically a British establishment, bars are more common in the United States. Bars are known for their lively atmosphere, loud music, and focus on socializing. Bars often serve a wider variety of alcoholic drinks than pubs, including mixed drinks and cocktails, and they are typically more concerned with entertainment than traditional pub fare.

Bars often have a more modern decor than pubs and may feature live music, DJs, or other entertainment. Unlike pubs, they are typically open late into the night and may attract a younger crowd looking for a night out on the town.

Another defining characteristic of bars is their focus on entertainment. While some pubs may have live music or other events, bars are typically more committed to hosting events and providing a social space for patrons to let loose and have fun.

Key Differences between Pubs and Bars

As we’ve noted, there are a few key differences between pubs and bars. Here are some of the most notable distinctions:

Alcohol Service: Pubs primarily serve beer and cider, while bars have a more extensive selection of mixed drinks and cocktails.

Food Offerings: Pubs serve traditional pub fare like fish and chips, while bars may have more extensive menus and offer specialty snacks and meals.

Atmosphere: Pubs are known for their cozy and friendly atmosphere, while bars are typically more lively and energetic.

Entertainment: Bars often have live music, DJs, or other events while pubs may have more traditional entertainment like board games or trivia nights.

Location: Pubs are typically located in older buildings, while bars may be found in more modern locations.

Examples of Pubs and Bars

To get a better sense of the differences between pubs and bars, let’s take a look at some examples of each:


The Victoria in London: This historic pub has been a favorite of locals since 1848. The pub has a cozy atmosphere, with dark wooden furnishings and a traditional bar.

The Hargreaves Arms in Manchester: This pub serves a variety of regional beers, including cask ales and craft beers. The pub also features a lively quiz night and a cozy outdoor seating area.

The Brew Dock in Dublin: Located in an old Bonded Warehouse, this pub serves a variety of locally brewed beers and ciders. The decor is industrial-chic, with exposed brick walls and metal beams.


The Varnish in Los Angeles: This speakeasy-style bar is tucked away behind an unmarked door. The decor is old-school glamour, with exposed brick walls and vintage chandeliers.

The Dead Rabbit in New York City: This lower-Manhattan bar serves up some of the best cocktails in the city. The bar is decorated to look like an old Irish pub, complete with vintage furnishings and a cozy atmosphere.

The Social in London: This bar is located in the trendy West End neighborhood and features a lively atmosphere and a wide variety of cocktails. The bar is known for its late-night hours and popular DJs.


While the terms “pub” and “bar” may be used interchangeably, there are significant differences between the two types of establishments. Pubs are typically British establishments known for their cozy atmosphere, focus on traditional pub fare, and wide selection of beers and ciders. Bars, on the other hand, are more common in the United States and are known for their lively atmosphere, extensive cocktail menus, and focus on entertainment.

Despite these differences, both pubs and bars provide a fun and social space for patrons to enjoy a night out with friends. Whether you prefer the laid-back atmosphere of a pub or the energetic vibe of a bar, there are plenty of options to choose from in cities around the world.