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Tuesday · July 06 2004

A guide to British pub etiquette
Everything you need to know about British pubs.

From the dos and don'ts primer to catching the barman's eye:

Do adopt an expectant, hopeful, even slightly anxious facial expression. If you look too contented and complacent, the bar staff may assume you are already being served.

Don’t ring the bell. Some pubs have a large bell attached to the wall at one end of the bar. This is used by the publican or bar staff to signal ‘last orders’ and ‘time’ (see Chapter 5 for explanation). If you ring the bell, customers may interpret this as the ‘last orders’ signal, and will all rush to the bar to buy their last drinks - making it even more difficult for you to get served, and incurring the wrath of the publican!

Ladies' drinks in Scotland:

An anthropologist working in the Scottish Highlands provided an amusing example of the male Scots’ attitude to what are known in this area as ‘ladies’ drinks’ – i.e. anything other than beer and whisky. In cultures where female drinking is subject to some degree of social disapproval, alcoholic beverages consumed by women are often conveniently granted a sort of honorary ‘non-alcoholic’ status, such that their consumption does not count as ‘drinking’. Among the Scottish Highlanders, this classification of ladies’ drinks as ‘not really alcohol’ is sometimes taken too literally: the researcher recounts an incident in which a drunken man who drove his car off the road one night, miraculously escaping serious injury, insisted that he had not been drinking – he had only had Bacardi-and-Coke!

I'd like to see a write-up for surviving the various bar flavors around town: hipster dive, trendy-tini, dirty white hat, etc.

What you had to say:
July 06 2004

I should have read this before our Scotland trip!

© 2004 Jason Keglovitz