Bars and Taverns, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

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Life in the USA
Public Services II
Bars and Taverns

Bars and Taverns
A Great Variety. Bars and taverns have the same variety as restaurants. Since people tend to spend entire evenings in bars or use them as social gathering places to “hang out” and meet their friends, different groups of people have their own types of bars. Tip the bartender, waiters or waitresses about 15% to 20% just as in a restaurant.

Singles bars can be found everywhere. Some cater to people in their twenties, some to an older crowd. Single people go to these bars to meet other single people. In some cities, dozens of these bars can be found within a small area. These bars will have video games, dancing and other entertainments.

Sports bars attract crowds interested in watching sports events. They are usually decorated with flags, logos, and uniforms from popular sports teams and signed photos of sports celebrities. A typical sports bar will have large televisions strategically placed through the establishment so patrons can watch one or more sports events at any given time.

Gay bars have been popular meeting places for homosexuals for many years. There are all types, from elegant cocktail lounges to “leather bars,” which attract a fairly rough crowd.

Irish bars exist in nearly all American communities. These bars are usually run by Irish immigrants or Americans of Irish descent. The often serve dishes associated with Ireland, like bangers and mash and corned beef and cabbage, in addition to the usual array of bar food. Popular Irish bars may offer a wide variety of specialty beers and ales, commonly on tap. At some Irish bars, traditional Irish music is performed.

Blue Collar Bars. Most working class areas have simple bars where working people, mostly male, go after work and on weekends to meet their friends and socialize. Ethnic areas also have neighborhood bars catering to their own groups.

Serious Drinking Bars. Big cities and rural areas also have bars which primarily attract an alcoholic crowd--people who go to the bar mainly to fulfill their need to drink rather than to socialize. These bars are often quite run down.

Elegant cocktail lounges draw a more sophisticated crowd. These can be found in the better hotels or as part of “upscale” restaurants. This is the kind of place you can find a cocktail pianist who provides pleasant background music.

Many bars feature music--rock, country, jazz, soul, pop, Latin, and every type of ethnic music--to attract their patrons. The high end of this is the nightclub, a fancy bar with elaborate entertainment and high prices. Music bars and nightclubs often have a “cover” charge (admission) and a minimum number of drinks you must buy (usually two). The growing number of comedy clubs, which offer live comedians who compete with each other to make the audience laugh, also operate on this basis.

The food served at bars ranges from potato chips and pretzels to sandwiches, to a full menu, depending upon the bar. See the Life In The USA section on Bar Food for a complete rundown. The type of alcohol served depends on local laws, local tastes, and the income level of the patrons. Wine can be purchased at most bars, although specialized wine-bars, which serve different varieties of wine to connoisseurs, are becoming more common.


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