Difference Between Bar and Pub

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Bar and Pub

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The words ‘Bar’ and ‘pub’ are used interchangeably; however, they subtly differ from each other. Both establishments offer alcohol, but bars are more focused on providing alcohol and helping their customers have a memorable drinking experience. Most authors use bars as a setting in their novels when writing about city kids being dramatic or mafia dons convening for a secret meeting. Compared to a pub, a bar is far more sophisticated (except in the case of dive bars).

Pubs, on the other hand, offer a limited variety of alcohol and focus more on providing food, too. Of course, the food served may not be on par with that of restaurants, but they are worth trying. ‘Pub Grub’ such as steak and pie, fish and chips, burgers, chicken wings, and so on make pubs a good spot for teens to hang out (fortunately, minors are allowed inside a pub). Most people prefer pubs because of their cozy ambience. They are ideal for catching up with old friends and having a hearty meal.

Moreover, one cannot see many fights erupting in pubs. However, bar fights are pretty common. That is not to say, a fight breaks out in bars every day; bouncers have a knack for recognizing signs that a fight is about to break out. Usually, their mere presence is intimidating and people think twice before looking for trouble. It’s just that a bar brawl is much less surprising than a pub fight.

Bar Vs. Pub

Bars serve every type of alcohol their customers may want, while pubs are famous for their limited but popular variety – beer, cider, and wine. Fancy business parties or formal celebrations usually take place in bars, whereas pubs have an informal atmosphere that makes them endearing.

The main form of entertainment in bars is music (live bands or DJs), stand-up comedy, dancing, and karaoke. Pub patrons usually indulge in a game of darts, billiards, or snooker. In modern days, slot machines and video games are available in pubs; they had to adapt to changes to stay relevant amidst stiff competition.

Difference Between Bar And Pub In Tabular Form

Parameters of Comparison Bar Pub
Variety of Alcohol A wide variety of alcohol is available. Cocktails, beers, whiskeys, and every other drink a customer may want. Customers have limited choices in pubs. Pubs are better suited for those who like to eat heartily and grab a drink or two.
Food Served Only snacks and light appetizers that go well with drinks are offered. Ploughman’s lunch, pasties, appetizers, lasagna, pickled eggs, and much more are available in Pubs.
Types/Classifications Many bars have recognized various niches and started to serve them. As a result, there is a bar for almost every type of community (cop bars, college bars, hipster bars, old man bars, and so on). They are further sub-classified based on the entertainment provided (dance bars, karaoke bars, arcade bars, etc.). Gastropubs, roadhouses, country pubs, theme pubs, and micro pubs are the different types of pubs.
Patrons Bars cater to the needs of many types of clientele. Some bars serve only high-profile/VIP clients, while others target the common man. As pubs are chosen because of their proximity to the workplace or home, clients are mostly made of locals.
Age Restriction 18-year-olds may enter the bar; however, they cannot legally consume alcohol till they are 21. No age restriction is imposed, as alcohol is not the sole product offered by pubs.
Ambience/Atmosphere Most bars have a rich, sophisticated feel (VIP bars), some strive to look ‘cool’ or ‘hip’ (bars for youngsters), while some less visited bars are best describes as ‘seedy’. Successful pubs create an atmosphere of homeliness that appeals to their long-time patrons. Though modern pubs are adopting several changes to remain in the competition, they do not let go of their traditional practices.
Music Classy music plays in high-profile bars, while loud, pulsating music is often heard (or rather felt) in bars that cater to the need of party animals (usually college kids but not limited to them) Pubs choose music that kind of blends into the background and never disturbs the customers. This way, patrons can continue their conversation with pleasant background music.
Predominant Form of Entertainment Live performances by different bands, DJs, Karaoke, and, most importantly, dancing. Game of darts, billiards, snooker, big screen TVs showing football matches, slot machines, and video games are available to entertain a pub’s patrons.

What Is A Bar?

Bars are, in layman’s words, establishments that focus on serving alcohol. Customers will be able to get whatever drink they are in the mood for – tequila, vodka, whiskey, beer, gin, rum, fruit drinks, soft drinks, or fancy cocktails. The term ‘bar’ refers to the countertops on which the drinks are served (remember how Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron slid their drinks along a wooden countertop in the song ‘To the Other Side’? Yep, that’s a bar.)

Types Of Bars

Though a bar may have been designed with one theme in mind, what kind of bar it becomes depends completely on its patrons. That is why so many bars clearly advertise what kind of customers they want to serve. Let’s take a look at some of the popular bar types:

Cocktail lounges have a refined, classy feel and are part of hotels, restaurants, or airports. A Full bar is a bar that offers all kinds of liquors (the traditional bars). Some consider dive bars (bars with informal ambience) notorious, while others consider them fun. Temperance bars serve non-alcoholic drinks such as mocktails, alcohol-free beer or wine, cream soda, blood tonic (no they are not for vampires, they are strictly for human consumption only), ginger beer, milk (hey, adults need calcium, too) and sarsaparilla. Wine bars focus on providing a satisfactory variety of wines rather than beers and other alcohol or liquors.

Classification According To The Entertainment provided

Arcade bars are popular among youngsters, as they have several video game consoles. Music bars have live music – piano bars, blues bars, and honky-tonks (bars that play country music, and yes, Blake Shelton mentions this in his song ‘Hillbilly Bone’), and are typically haunted by music lovers. Dance bars have a separate dance floor where patrons can dance their hearts out.

If the dance floor is cavernous and the establishment focuses more on providing a wonderful dancing experience than serving alcohol, it is considered a nightclub rather than a bar. Some dance bars are further sub-classified based on the music the patrons dance to (ever visited a salsa bar?). Karaoke bars, Drag bars, and Sports bars are some of the other types of bars.

Classification Based On Patrons

Bicycle messenger bars, biker bars, sailor bars, singles bars, gay and lesbian bars, hipster bars, college bars, and cop bars are some of the popular ones. Interestingly, ‘Old man bars’ are famous for their long-time customers (male) who are usually retired and start drinking early in the day. These patrons usually, drink inexpensive alcohol and spend the day chatting, watching television (hollering at their favorite teams to ‘man up’), or quietly reading a newspaper (do not touch their crossword puzzle. They know what they are doing, thank you very much!).  

What Is A Pub?

Pubs are not quite restaurants but are not focused only on serving alcohol either. Therefore, they are ideal for those who hate formal occasions/celebrations. Public houses (pubs in short) have an informal and friendly atmosphere that oozes calmness. Teens can enter pubs as alcohol is not the only product they sell. People who want to unwind after a long day and do not care for the stuffiness of restaurants or loud music in clubs or bars love hanging out in pubs. Pubs provide everything from starters to desserts and a limited variety of alcohol (generally, the most sought-after ones).

Types Of Pubs

The five broad types of Pubs are as follows:


Gastropubs are restaurant-like pubs; they offer food, wine, and beer whose quality is on par with that of restaurants. Hamburgers, Sunday roast, and Shepard’s pie are some of the famous pub grub served here. The term ‘gastropub’ has become somewhat irrelevant due to almost all pubs improving the quality of food they provide to sustain their business.


These pubs can be found in less-populated areas predominantly near major roads (bypasses or arterial roads). The majority of roadhouses’ clients are passing travelers who stop for food, drinks, and sometimes, fuel. One of the most famous fictional roadhouses is Harvelle’s Roadhouse from the popular TV series Supernatural.

Country Pubs

These pubs are charming to look at and are simple establishments with that hard-to-come-by old-world charm. They serve as a place for locals to meet and plan any events together or merely exchange news. However, these pubs are rare, as most were converted into restaurants or gastropubs to meet growing competition. Unfortunate, but who can combat time and the changes that come with it? Brew pubs where freshly brewed drinks are served offer slight consolation to those who miss the good old country pubs.

Theme Pubs

Themed pubs are not as widely available as theme bars; however, some publicans (pub owners) decorate their pubs based on the chosen theme to attract and serve niche clients. Irish pubs, Rock pubs, and Goth pubs are examples of theme pubs.


Small, modern, and comfy are the words that jump to one’s mind when looking at micropubs. They are one-room pubs known for good ale and stimulating back-and-forth conversations.

Main Difference Between Bar And Pub In Points

  • Bars focus on serving alcohol to individual clients, while pubs focus more on serving lunch and dinner to families/groups.
  • Pubs are more common in suburban and rural areas and are known as the ‘heart of England’, whereas clusters of bars can be found in cities, each competing to attract youngsters who do not mind spending more to have fun.
  • Bars have an energetic atmosphere, as their clients are often party animals or business people celebrating small wins (clinching a deal) or big victories (higher rate of profit than ever before or the crushing defeat of a business competitor). Pubs are more laid-back and have a friendly atmosphere.
  • Having a conversation in bars is a Herculean feat. Most bars are noisy and have loud music that prevents one from hearing one’s own thoughts (may seem a tad dramatic, but in some cases it is true). Pubs are known for lively banter and easy conversations, as the music usually plays unobtrusively in the background.
  • Pubs open before mid-day to attract the early lunch grabbers and continue to be open till late at night. On the other hand, bars commonly open at 4 or 5 p.m. and close according to the ‘Last call laws’ of the state they are located in. Usually, the preferred closing time is 2 a.m.
  • Many types of theme bars can be found easily and people tend to visit those that best appeal to them. Most pubs do not take the time to develop or choose a theme, but a few pubs have started to do so to sustain (old) and attract (new) clients. However, only a few theme pubs are on par with theme bars.
  • The owners of bars are called Bar Managers, whereas a pub owner is known as Publican or Landlord. A bar’s employees have titles such as bartender or barmaid and bouncer. Busboys, waitresses, and hostesses can be found in pubs.


Some think Americans call a drinking establishment a bar, and the British call it a pub. However, bars and pubs differ in many subtle ways. One establishment takes pride in serving every kind of drink their clients may want ranging from low-alcohol drinks to fancy cocktails, while the other is known for its loyal patrons who have known each other for a long time.

So, if one wants to know which bar serves the best drink, barhopping is a good idea (though it may not seem like one in the morning). Visiting various local pubs may lead to the discovery of tasty treats; some pubs serve better food than restaurants! One merely has to take the time to go in search of it. In short, people craving a drink will be better off going to a bar, and those who want a filling meal will not be disappointed with a pub.


  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pub#Types
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar_(establishment)#Patrons
  • https://mybartender.com/articles/bar-vs-pub/


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"Difference Between Bar and Pub." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 10 Jun. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-bar-and-pub-1239>.

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