Pubs in London

Pubs in London

Ordering beer: the basics

There is no waiter service in British pubs. You have to go up to the bar to buy your drinks, and carry them back to your table.

It is customary for one or two people, not the whole group, to go up to the bar to buy drinks. Bar staff are generally very tolerant people, but large packs of tourists crowding the bar counter can try their patience.

If you wish to pay for your drinks individually, then order individually; if you order as a group, the bar staff will total the cost and expect a single payment.

To get served, you must attract the attention of the bar staff without making any noise or resorting to the vulgarity of too-obvious gesticulation. This is much easier than it sounds!

Simply asking for “a beer” in a British pub is a bit like asking for “a wine” in a French restaurant. Pubs often have a range of around 20 different beers behind the bar, many of them on draught (on tap), some in bottles and a few in cans.

At a basic level, the bar staff just need to know whether you want bitter, lager or another sort of beer, and whether you want a pint, a half, or one of the wide variety of imported and domestic beers sold by the bottle (look at the glass-fronted coolers and shelves behind the bar to see what bottled beers are available).

A pint is 0.568 litres (i.e. quite a big drink). ‘A half’ means a half-pint. The ‘pint’ element is silent. When ordering,  you just say “A half of lager, please” or “A half of bitter, please”. This is very often shortened to “Half a lager, please” and so on.


Video from youtube

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