Nothing screams British quite as loudly as pubs do. They are an essential and focal point of the British social life. The difference between your regular bars and pubs lies in the fact that pubs have a lot more to them than just drinking; they serve as the grounds to meet new people, catch up with old friends, throw an awesome stag party or meet up with someone special. However, no two pubs are alike. While some may have a blaring music piercing through the speakers to a wild crowd, another pub could be mellow with a soft music or hosting a big game screening to a cheering crowd.
If you’re hitting a UK pub for the first time, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you know your way around it and your experience is pleasant. This is your quintessential guide to a British pub experience.
- Finding The Correct Match
Since no two pubs are alike and can vary greatly in their atmosphere, crowd or a vibe, the first thing you need to do is identify where you want to go and if that pub really feels good to you.
Most pubs centred around the city have a wild cosmopolitan crowd. If you are looking to party hard, hitting pubs in the cities like Brighton, London and Manchester is a fail safe option. Just peak into one, if you like the vibe, get right into it and have a gala time.
The pubs in the suburbs and villages are more local and see the village and neighbourhood folks gather around for a quick meet up. The crowd in some of these pubs can be tense, hostile and unwelcoming of a stranger or a foreigner. Feel confident enough to leave a pub if you do not like the energy inside.
If you are up for a twist on the traditional pubs, there are also many themed pubs in the UK, especially in bigger towns. You get everything from Goth to match your mood or The Beatles themed club as an ode to the British rock stars.
- Self Service All The Way
You can’t dash through a British pub and seat yourself expecting a waiter to walk up to you and take your order. The pubs in UK work on the principle of self service. You have to walk over to the bar and place your order of drinks(s) and food and then wait by the counter to grab your drink(s) and carry them back to your table.
Remember to be patient and polite with the bartender and other staff. The more polite you are and make an eye contact, the more chances you have of getting your drinks earlier.
Additionally, the bar staff will not maintain a tab for you. You have to pay for your drinks upfront before you walk to your table in order to avoid any awkward run-ins with law on account of non-payments.
- Know your Lagers from Ales and Beer
While a beer pretty much means a lager in most of the western world, it gets a little complicated in the UK. ‘Beer’ becomes a blanket term for ales, lagers, wheat beers and so on. So just asking for a pint of beer will get you nowhere.
You can additionally try some taste testers of the wide variety of beer to make up your mind and then choose your poison. Also, if you are unfamiliar with British measures of a drink, ask for a pint if you want to drink a lot or just half a pint if you fancy just a little something to drink.
However, ales and beer are not the only things you can order at a pub. They serve a wide variety of spirits and cocktails, some even serving coffee. So visiting a pub in the UK does not necessarily mean it will a night spent drinking alcohol. You can visit for a cup of coffee, have a light snack and spend a good time with your mates or a date.
- Reciprocation is Common Courtesy
It is an unsaid golden rule of a UK pub- if someone buys you drink, you buy them one too. Not reciprocating this common courtesy is considered rude an scorned upon by the Brits. After all, it is a land of etiquettes and manners.
So if you’re out drinking with the Brits, when someone gets the first round, you volunteer to get the second round. No questions asked.
- Closing Time
While some pubs have a license that lets them stay open till 5:00 am or for 24 hours, most pubs close around 2:00 am, especially in London. To indicate the closing time and announce the last call, the pubs may use different methods.
Some pubs ring a bell or flash lights which means it’s the last order call after which you have twenty minutes to finish up, gather yourself and walk yourself out. The Brits are serious about time, so your twenty minutes do mean twenty minutes.
Going to a pub on a visit to UK is a must on your travel itinerary. However, you must be well versed with the basic pub etiquettes to ensure you have a good time and don’t end up offending someone or getting thrown out of them. Keeping in mind the above stated rules is guaranteed to make your British pub experience unforgettable. By the end of the night, you may have made new acquaintances, thrown your best friend in the world an awesome stag do or ended up meeting someone special, but the one thing you definitely make are beautiful memories.