AskDefine | Define barroom

Dictionary Definition

barroom n : a room or establishment where alcoholic drinks are served over a counter; "he drowned his sorrows in whiskey at the bar" [syn: bar, saloon, ginmill, taproom]

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


  1. A room where alcoholic drinks are served over a counter.

Usage notes

In the US, this term is uncommon, as is bar room, both eschewed in favor of bar.

Extensive Definition

A bar (also called a pub or tavern) is a business that serves drinks, especially alcoholic beverages such as beer, liquor, and mixed drinks, for consumption on the premises. Bars provide stools or chairs for the patrons along tables or raised counters. Some bars have entertainment on a stage, such as a live band, comedians, go-go dancers, a floor show or strippers (see strip club). Bars that are part of hotels are sometimes called long bars or hotel lounges.
The term "bar" is derived from the specialized counter on which drinks are served and is a synecdoche applied to the whole of the drinking establishment. The "back bar" or "gantry" is a set of shelves of glasses and bottles behind that counter. In some bars, the gantry is elaborately decorated with woodwork, etched glass, mirrors, and lights. When food is served elsewhere in the establishment, it may also be ordered and eaten at the bar.


There are many types of bars, which can be categorized according to the types of entertainment provided at the bar and by their clientèle.
Bars categorized by the type of entertainment or activities offered at the bar include: Topless bars, where topless female employees serve drinks or dance; sports bars, where sports fans watch games on large-screen televisions; salsa bars, where patrons dance to Latin salsa music; and dance bars, which have a modest-sized dance floor where patrons dance to recorded music. However, if a dance bar has a large dance floor and hires well-known professional DJs, it is usually considered to be nightclub or discothèque.
Bars categorized by the clientele who come to the bar include: biker bars, which are bars frequented by motorcycle enthusiasts, and in some regions, motorcycle gang members; gay bars, where gay men or women dance and socialize; cop bars, where off-duty law enforcement agents gather; and singles bars where (mostly) unmarried people of both genders can socialize and meet.
A bar's owners and managers typically choose establishment names, decor, drink menus, lighting and other elements they can control so as to attract a certain clientele. However, bar operators have only limited influence over who patronizes their establishments and a bar envisioned for one demographic can become popular with another. For example, a gay bar with a dance floor might attract an increasingly-straight clientele over time and vice versa. As well, a blues club may become a de facto "biker bar" if its main clients are biker gang members.
There are also retro bars and lounge bars.

Wine Bars

Although the trend of wine bars in the United States was not well-received in the 1980s, they began to gain popularity in the 90s. By early 2000, wine bars became very popular and started popping up in many metropolitan neighborhoods across the country. Wine bars now rival the local hangouts such as coffee shops and local bars. The wine bar phenomenon offers the taste before you buy philosophy. Wine is offered by the glass or in sample size portions. The method of pay as you go paired with sample size portions makes wine drinking more affordable and therefore appealing to a larger group of consumers. These bars expose people to different and interesting wines they would either not know existed or be too intimidated to inquire about.
Wine bars put a new spin on wine tasting. They seek to remove the association of wine with upscale clientèle and overwhelming wine lists and replace it with a more casual and relaxing atmosphere. Many of these bars are furnished with nooks and booths encased in rich colors and plush surroundings in hopes their guests will linger. Wine bars look to embrace the intellectual stimulation linked to wine and offer an alternative to the bar scene. The laid-back environment lends itself to a good socializing setting with a less crowded feel and more intimate appeal.
Modern wine bars have begun to incorporate a larger variety of food choices. Traditionally associated with cheeses and desserts, wine bars are looking to combine wine with appetizer-sized gourmet selections to enhance the palate. The concept brings the tastes of fancy restaurants to a dressed-down setting. Restaurant owners and chefs take the opposite approach and use wine bars as an opportunity for expansion.


United States

In the United States of America, legal distinctions often exist between restaurants, bars, and even types of bars. These distinctions vary from state to state, and even among municipalities. Beer bars (sometimes called taverns or pubs) may be legally restricted to only selling beer or possibly wine, cider and other low-proof beverages. Liquor bars sell everything from beer to hard liquor.
Bars are sometimes exempt from smoking bans that restaurants are subject to, even if those restaurants have liquor licenses. The distinction between a restaurant that serves liquor and a bar is usually made by the percentage of revenue earned from selling liquor, although increasingly, smoking bans include bars too.
In most places, bars are prohibited from selling alcoholic beverages to go and this makes them clearly different from liquor stores. Some brewpubs and wineries can serve alcohol to go, but under the rules applied to a liquor store. In some areas, such as New Orleans and parts of Las Vegas, open containers of alcohol may be prepared to go. This kind of restriction is usually dependent on an open container law. In Pennsylvania and Ohio, bars may sell six packs of beer "to-go" in original (sealed) containers by obtaining a take-out license.
Historically, the western United States featured saloons. Many saloons survive in the western United States, though their services and features have changed with the times. Newer establishments have been built in the saloon style to duplicate the feeling of the older establishments.
Many Irish or British-themed "pubs" exist throughout United States and Canada and in some continental European countries.
La Crosse, WI has the most bars per capita with 362 bars and only 51,034 people living in the city limits.


Belgium is well known internationally for its wide range of beers, as well as its bars ("cafés" as they are called there). All cities and villages have a great concentration of them. For a long list of the cafés of Brussels, please stroll through this list.


Canada has absorbed many of the bar traditions common in the UK, such as the drinking of dark ales and stouts, and the establishment of British-style pubs. Canada adopted the UK-style tavern, which was the most popular type of bar throughout the 1960s and 1970s, especially for working class people. Canadian taverns, which can still be found in remote regions of Northern Canada, have long tables with benches lining the sides. Patrons in the smoky taverns order beer in large quart bottles and drink inexpensive "bar brand" Canadian rye whisky. In some provinces, taverns used to have separate entrances for men and women.
As Canada borders the United States, it has also adopted many U.S. bar traditions, such as the "biker bar", the "country bar", and the blues bar. The U.S.-style sports bar has become very popular in Canada. Canadian sports bars are usually decorated with merchandise and paraphernalia featuring the local hockey team, and patrons watch the games on large-screen televisions.
Legal restrictions on bars are set by the Canadian provinces and territories, which has led to a great deal of variety. While some provinces have been very restrictive with their bar regulation, setting strict closing times and banning the removal of alcohol from the premises, other provinces have been more liberal. In Alberta, for example, patrons can order beer for "take-out" at the end of the night, a practice which is illegal in provinces such as Ontario. Closing times generally run from 2:00 to 4:00 a.m.
In Nova Scotia, particularly in Halifax, there was, until the 1980s, a very distinct system of gender-based laws were in effect for decades. Taverns, bars, halls, and other classifications differentiated whether it was exclusively for men or women, men with invited women, vice-versa, or mixed. After this fell to the wayside, the issue of water closets led many powder rooms in taverns being either constructed later, or in kitchens or upstairs halls where plumbing allowed, and the same in former sitting rooms for men's facilities.

United Kingdom

In the UK bars are either areas that serve alcoholic drinks within establishments such as hotels, restaurants, universities, or are a particular type of establishment which serves alcoholic drinks such as wine bars, "style bars", private membership only bars. However the main type of establishment selling alcohol for consumption on the premises is the public house or pub. Some bars are similar to nightclubs in that they feature loud music, subdued lighting, or operate a dress code and admissions policy, with inner city bars generally having door staff at the entrance.
'Bar' also designates a separate drinking area within a pub. Until recent years most pubs had two or more bars - very often the Public bar, and the Saloon Bar, where the decor was better and prices were sometimes higher. The designations of the bars varied regionally. In the last two decades many pub interiors have been opened up into single spaces, which some people regret as it loses the flexibility, intimacy and traditional feel of a multi-roomed public house.


In Australia, traditionally the 'public bar' was where only men drank, while the 'lounge bar' or 'saloon bar' was where women or men could drink (i.e. mixed drinking). This distinction is not seen now as anti-discrimination legislation and women's rights activism has broken down the concept of a public drinking area accessible to only one sex. Where two bars still exist in the one establishment, one (that derived from the 'public bar') will be more downmarket while the other (deriving from the 'lounge bar') will be more upmarket. Over time, with the introduction of gaming machines into hotels, many 'lounge bars' have or are being converted into gaming rooms.
In the major Australian cities there is an immense and diverse bar scene with a range of ambiences, modes and styles catering for every echelon of cosmopolitan society. Melbourne maintains a strong hold of the up and coming drinking scene.


In Italy, a 'bar' is a place more similar to a Café, where people go during the morning or the afternoon, usually to take a coffee, a cappuccino, a hot chocolate and eat some kind of snack like pastries and sandwiches (panini or tramezzini). However, any kind of alcoholic beverages are served. Opening hours vary: some establishments are open since very early in the morning and close relatively early in the evening; others, especially if next to a theater or a cinema, may be open until late at night. In larger cities like Milan, Rome, Turin or Genoa, many larger bars are also restaurants and disco clubs. Many Italian bars have introduced a 'so called' "aperitivo" time in the evening: everyone who purchases an alcoholic drink then has free access to an usually abundant buffet of cold dishes like pasta salads, vegetables and various types of appetizers.


Bars in India are mainly clustered in metro cities, like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, etc. The rest of the country has very few bar formats. Mostly, drinks are served in establishments such as restaurants. Many consumers prefer to purchase liquor at "wine shops" (locally known as Thekas—shops that, until recently, stocked only beer and liquor) and consume it at home.
More recently, bars are showing up in smaller cities; but, these establishments cater to a mostly male clientèle and are unlike the social hubs of the west.
Since last few years, many international brand have entered the market, like 'Hard Rock Cafe', 'TGI Friday's', Ruby Tuesday's', 'Ministry of Sound(MOS)', etc. Similar chains of bars are now starting to emerge from within the country. Olives, Punjabi by nature, Geoffrey's and All Sports Bar are among the few popular ones.


Bars range from down-and-dirty "dives" which are little more than a dark room with a counter and some bottles of liquor, to elegant places of entertainment for the elite.
Many bars set a happy hour to encourage off-peak patronage. Contrastingly, bars that fill to capacity typically implement a cover charge, often similar in price to one or two cocktails, during their peak hours. Such bars often feature entertainment, which may be a live band, or a popular D.J..

Fictional bars

Several fictional bars have featured prominently in movies, including the following:
Several fictional bars have featured prominently in books, including the following:
Several fictional bars have featured prominently in television series, including the following:
Bars featured in plays
  • The Rumpus Room in Bar Talk by Jay Parker


barroom in Catalan: Bar (comerç)
barroom in Czech: Bar (podnik)
barroom in German: Bar (Lokal)
barroom in Estonian: Baar
barroom in Spanish: Bar
barroom in Esperanto: Trinkejo
barroom in French: Bar (établissement)
barroom in Scottish Gaelic: Bàr
barroom in Italian: Bar (pubblico esercizio)
barroom in Georgian: ბარი (მცირე რესტორანი)
barroom in Dutch: Café
barroom in Japanese: バー (酒場)
barroom in Norwegian: Bar (utested)
barroom in Polish: Bar (lokal gastronomiczny)
barroom in Finnish: Baari (liike)
barroom in Yiddish: שענק
barroom in Chinese: 酒吧

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

alehouse, bar, barrel house, beer garden, beer parlor, bistro, blind tiger, cabaret, cafe, cocktail lounge, dive, dramshop, drinkery, drinking saloon, gin mill, groggery, grogshop, honky-tonk, local, lounge, nightclub, pothouse, pub, public, public house, rathskeller, rumshop, saloon, saloon bar, speakeasy, taproom, tavern, wine shop
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