The british pub is a huge part of social life in the UK, but they can be a little bit daunting if you don’t know the rules, etiquette or the expressions that are used there. Don’t worry though, today I am going to tell you everything you need to know to survive down the pub. Let’s get cracking!

What is a British pub?

I guess we should start by defining what a pub actually is. It is a place where you can go to drink alcohol, but you can usually get food there too. Usually they are in pretty old looking buildings and the interior is quite cozy.

It is more than that though. It is usually a pretty relaxed atmosphere where you can socialise with your mates and is often the centre in the local community. There are a few different words for the pub. You can say pub of course but you can also say the local or the boozer.

People will often call the pub by its name. English pubs usually have names like “The queens head”, “The lamb and flag” or “The dog and handgun” so keep an eye out above the door for the name of your local pub.

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Inviting people to the pub

The first thing that usually happens is that you need to invite someone, or be invited by someone to go for a drink. I mean, you can go on your own if you want, but it’s usually way more fun with some mates. We have a bunch of ways to do this. you can say

  • Do you fancy going down the pub?
  • Fancy a pint?
  • Do you want to go out for a drink?
  • Shall we go down the boozer?
  • Let’s go down the local.
  • and the easiest of them all… pub?

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Buying a round

Once you have actually arrived at the pub, you need to get some drinks. **I mean, that is why you are there right?** There is something that you need to know first though.

In groups of people it is pretty common to buy drinks in rounds. This means that one person buys everyone in the group a drink, you know, a round of drinks. Then when everyone has finished their drinks, it is the next persons turn to “get their round in”

It is common for people to ask you “What are you having?” “I’ll get these ones, what’s yours?” when they are inviting you to take part. Be careful though. There is always one stingy bastard that tries to miss their round, so keep your eyes out for them. Don’t be like that… always pay for your round when it is your turn!

You don’t have to do this though. It is not an obligation, it is just something we do sometimes. If you want to opt out of the round buying system, just say “Don’t worry about it. I’ll get mine.”

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Going to the bar

When it is your round, you are going to need to head to the bar. This is the place in the pub where you can order drinks and is usually made of wood with some beer mats on it. There are a few things you need to be careful of here.

Queueing is an essential part of British culture. Us Brits love a good queue and we despise queue jumpers. When you get to the bar, have a look round and see who is there before you and wait your turn. Usually the person behind the bar knows which order to serve people in, so just be patient and wait until they get to you.

When it is your turn, the barman, or barmaid behind the bar might ask you “What can I get you?”. Before you start reeling of the list of drinks you want, be nice and start with a greeting.

When you order, be polite about it. Rather than saying “I want…” or “get me…” we tend to use expressions like “can I have…” or “could I get…”

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What can you order?

At this point, we should really talk about quantities of drinks, right? It kind of depends on what drinks you are ordering. Beer, larger, cider and ale usually come in 2 sizes. A pint or a half pint, which we call half. For example you could say “Could I get a pint of cider and a half of lager please?”

When it comes to wine, you can get it in a small glass, or a large glass. I’m not much of a wine drinker, but I guess you could also buy it by the bottle if you fancy.

When it comes to spirits, you know like vodka, gin and whiskey, you can order it as a single, or a double, which is either one shot or two. Some places even do quads if you are really looking to get smashed.

You might also want to get a pub snack while you are at it. Common snacks are crisps, which americans call potato chips, Salted peanuts, pork scratchings and even pickled eggs depending on the pub. And people say British cuisine is terrible… What is available is usually on display behind the bar.

It’s time to get supping!

Anyway, After you have ordered and the person behind the bar has poured your drinks and grabbed your snacks, it is time to pay. They tell you the total price and then will ask you “How would you like to pay?”, “How are you paying?” or simply “Cash or card.” Choose the best method for you and pay like you would in any shop.

Some pubs, especially if you are a regular, might let you open a tab. This means that you pay for all the drinks at the end of the night, rather than each time you go to the bar. Depends of the situation and the pub itself, but this is sometimes an option. I don’t think I have ever actually done this though.

Now it is time to get to the drinking, but before you start supping (this is slang for drinking alcohol) you should touch glasses with your mates and say “cheers!” It is an important part of the pub experience, so don’t forget!

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