Drinking in the UK
To drink in the UK you need to be 18 – and things are getting stricter. If you look under 25 you may be asked for ID and once you’ve been asked they can’t take it back, you must provide some official ID like a driving licence or passport.
Drinking in the UK is an important part of the culture among both young and old. Every village, town and city will have a selection of pubs to choose from, which serves spirits, wines, beers, cider, and alcopops. The best ones will also have a range of beers, bitters and stouts to choose from too. Most pubs are friendly affairs and as long as you’re fun and welcoming, the other patrons will be too.
Smoking in pubs is now illegal.
If you’re lucky you’ll be in a pub when there’s a lock in. This is when the pub stays open after hours and class it as a ‘private party’ meaning that they can do what they want. If this happens you won’t be allowed in and out again, as it’s against the laws.
If you see ‘Free House’ written above the door it doesn’t mean the beer is free. What is means is that they are not linked to any particular brewery and so can serve a range of beer. If you’re well into your ales look out for a ‘Cask Marque’ plaque outside the pub. This symbolises that the contents inside are of top quality.
Cider is a very popular drink in the UK, from the national Kopperberg and Bulmers varieties to the West Country cloudy ciders known as ‘scrumpy’. It will come from a wooden barrel, rather than the metal kegs used to serve the more common types. Scrumpy is super strong, cheap and comes in massive bottles – approach with extreme caution.
Few tips for visiting a pub in the UK
- Don’t tap money on the bar surface to attract the barman’s attention.
- Take all of your change – tips are not expected. If you do want to treat your bar worker offer to buy them a drink, like this: ‘A pint of your best, landlord, and one for yourself”.
- In ‘local’ pubs, keep your voice down and avoid drawing attention to yourself.
- Don’t mention politics, sex or religion.
- Waiting patiently at a bar is imperative to the pub culture in the UK. Pushing in line will not be tolerated and could lead to confrontation.
- Don’t talk to other men in the male toilets while they’re going about their business – especially if you’re a woman.
- Beer and cider in pubs is served in pint (568ml to be precise) and half-pint measures, or in bottles. Just ordering a beer will get you a pint – you need to specify if you want otherwise.
- Spirits and shorts are normally 25ml although some pubs use 35ml. In Northern Ireland, the standard measure is 35ml.
Closing times are generally 11pm and 10:30pm on a Sunday – although some pubs will be open later. Check at the bar if you’re that bothered. Theoretically, a pub can ask for a 24-hour licence, though few have done so.
There are many wine bars in the UK – the dress code is generally swankier, there’s more of a focus on wine and prices tend to be higher. They can be a fun place to visit before you go clubbing though, as the music tends to be louder too.
The dress code for clubs in the UK depends greatly on where you’re going – check out their website if you need any advice. Nights out in London tend to be a lot more casual than in the Northern cities for example. Just don’t wear trainers and you’ll be alright. Clubs are generally cheaper during the week as they cater more for students. If you want to go for a weekend night at a big club with a well-known DJ you could be looking at £25+.
Staying sober in the UK
People in the UK drink a lot of tea as standard. PG Tips, Yorkshire Tea and Barry’s Tea are the most popular brands and it’s served with milk and sugar. Cafe culture is huge in the UK – in the big cities there are coffee shops on every corner.
Bubble Tea shops are also becoming more popular, as well as milkshake bars that will pretty much stuck anything in a blender for your milky pleasure.