A man walks into a bar. Ouch. The poor bastard should have walked into a pub, because they're better on practically every level, at least according to our London correspondent/professional drinker Jason Allen.
He swears he doesn't mean to slander the whole US drinking scene (the 50 states are producing some of the downright finest craft beers and cocktails in the world), but rather to remind us Americans of the glorious forums for drinking said goodness that they left behind.
So why should Johnny Stars & Stripes have kept the pub? See his 15 reasons below...
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Atmosphere It's intangible, but you can't beat it. Historically, pubs (or "public houses", to give them their full, point-backing-up name) have been a place geared towards social interaction, with the booze acting as a lubricant. Bars sometimes seem to be there to get you hammered first and foremost, with social interaction being an occasional, accidental by-product.
Relaxed ID-ing The average Brit teen is fine in his/her local pub around 16yrs old. At a bar/the US in general, even being 21 is no guarantee, unless you have an ID, a birth certificate, and a letter from the president saying it's cool for you to drink Buttery Nipples.
"Domestic" = European Beers from incredibly-good-at-brewing countries like Belgium, Germany, France, etc., are all so commonplace, they're barely considered imports. In the US, anything other than domestic means $$$. In Britain, it's almost like the monks are enslaved in the basement.
On That Subject -- No Light Beer There is a place for light beer, and that place is the refrigerator of a middle-class woman who stopped doing pilates but doesn't want anyone to know.
History! Pretty much all pubs have it. A lot of it. In fact, there's a pub in London called The Mayflower, from which the ship that carried the pilgrims set off was lent its name. In a way, this pub is the extremely disappointed father of all American bars.
Awesome Names When a pub is called something hilarious/awesome (Dirty Dicks? The Hung Drawn and Quartered? Both real, both literally hundreds of years old), it's not a cheap laugh, or a novelty, or a pun that gets old fast. Sorry, Amy's Winehouse.
No Tipping! Or, "how to save 15% to 20% off your bar tab every single time you visit".
Sunday Roasts And, by extension, all food. To be clear, Sunday roasts -- those joyous sessions that involve dominating meat, and potatoes, and weirdly-named vegetables, and beers while maybe watching football -- would win this whole thing alone, and that's not even taking into account the fact that Michelin star-winning, restaurant-scene-changing gastropubs only exist because they had more than mere wings and burgers to build on.
They're Family-Friendly It's extremely common for families, infant progeny included, to go out for a pub lunch on the weekend. When family & child go to bars for lunch, odds are that daddy will end up behind them at some point in his life.
Cask-Conditioned Ale It requires a slightly acquired taste, but so does whiskey and -- let's face it -- all beer. You won't find it outside of a pub unless you're crazy-lucky.
Cider! It's delicious, and there's always at least one draught in every pub. At most bars, you'd be lucky to find a bottle. And it's called "hard cider", presumably referring to the ease of finding it.
No TV A decent pub will bust out a big screen for big games, but will put it away afterwards. And then you talk to each other. It's weird, but you might get used to it.
Darts When you're a couple of pints in, there's almost nothing that's more fun than throwing sharp, pointed, face-endangering mini-arrows around, and for everyone around you to be totally cool with it.
Lock-Ins When closing time rolls around, if you're in a nice country pub, they'll often have a lock-in: they close the doors to the public, serve you all night, and make you feel like a member of the damn family (which, for legal reasons, you briefly are). When an American bar closes, they play Semisonic.
There's No Dress Code Bars often make you feel like you have to look like you made an effort. You can go to a pub in your dressing gown. That's not formal, even though it sounds like it. Ahhhh, Britishness.