Pub is the abbreviated form of public house and refers to an establishment where alcoholic drinks are served. Pubs are common sight in British soil, where virtually every town has at least one, and other English speaking countries have imported the institution along with the language.
Many pubs in British soil belong now to chains under the control of breweries and often beer is cheaper than wines or spirits. You would be able to drink cask ale -real ale for many, brewed and matured in the pub employing traditional methods; served at cool cellar temperature by a hand-pump- or beer from the keg -made in industrial quantities, pasteurized, pressurized, and chilled. Pubs also serve a range of non-alcoholic drinks and most offer food as well as drinks, whatever the landlord fancies.
Sometimes you will find lodging as well as food and drinks and could the word inn would be part of the pub name; the curious fact is that many places known as inns or hotels no longer do, but only hostelries were allowed to serve alcohol in former times.
The bar usually provides the focal point in the local. Frosted or smoked windows to protect customers from curious viewers make pubs dark, needing ambience lights even when there is still sunlight outdoors, nevertheless, they help to produce a homely feeling. The old chimney and a roaring fire make them cozy; in a cold, winter day one comes to appreciate that chimney and the comfort derived from having your favorite drink sitting in front of the fire. In the summer, one can take advantage of the garden and the outdoors tables. Darts or a pool table often completes the decoration.
Initially food was not important in a pub, just a few snacks served at the bar or tables and mostly salty ones, to encourage more drinking. Pubs have gradually increased their food offer going through ploughman lunches –cold lunches including bread, cheese, pickles and a salad- to full lunches and dinners, not as formal as a restaurant but sometimes very satisfying, though some pubs do have a small restaurant attached.
Find below a list of pubs worth a visit, if you want to have an experience of what all this pub business is about.
London & South East of England
Black Friar – This pub is famous for its unusual decoration with pink and cream marble walls and bas-reliefs carved in bronze depicting merry, fat monks in different activities. The snug, a smaller bar like a chapel, has arched mosaic ceilings and wooden carved sculptures of monks as lamps - 174 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4.
George Inn – in London. The pub started as a coaching inn and it is under the care of the National Trust as it is the only example of a galleried coaching inn left in London. – 77 Borough High Street, London, SE1 .
Haunch of Venison – Apart being in possession of a fine collection of whisky and brandy, it is the oldest pub in Salisbury, dated back to the 14th century when the workers at the cathedral were lodged there. You can try some British very traditional food such as bubble and squeak at the restaurant. There are claims of ghost haunting - 1 Minster Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire.
Old House at Home – This is a 16th century pub of historic interest apart from being charming with its half timber and oak beams –two of the beams come from Spanish Armada ships. They serve food and real ales that you can enjoy in front of the traditional open fire, in the winter, or in their walled garden, in the summer. As another historic note, it has a post where dancing bears were tethered once – 2 South Street, Havant, Hampshire.
The George Inn – in Eton. You would not yhink this is a 300 years old. It is family friendly and offers different menus for day and evening meals so you can have a snack, a light meal or a full diner. The George Inn is a perfect stop when touring around Windsor and Eton – 77 High Street, Eton, Berkshire.
The Swan Inn – It is a place to stop when exploring the area. It belongs to the gastro-pub category – Petworth Road, Chiddingfold, Godalming, Surrey.
Wykeham Arms - Nested betwixt college and cathedral in a tranquil niche of Winchester, this is a snug coaching inn from the 18th century, keeping much of the Georgian style. Indoors, you will find two bars and two dinning rooms serving highly thought of local food, close to a restaurant in menu and prices in the evenings, more traditional pub fare at lunch time. Real fires in winter, college memorabilia, corners and crevices tote up to great ambiance. There are rooms in the main house and extension for those who fancy something different to a hotel - 75 Kingsgtate Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 9PE.
South West of England
Hope and Anchor – Serves real ales and imaginative Sunday roasts that include vegetarian options. Home made dishes and very generous portions are two more reasons to treat yourself to a British weekend tradition at this classic pub, although you can try its food and ales any day, it opens daily – 38 Jacob's Well Road, Bristol .
Red Lion – A really old pub. One of its rooms was used to bring to court conspirators agains Henry V in 1415. It has a formal restaurant and a bar area where one can have a snack or an informal meal – 55 High Street, Southampton, Hampshire.
Ship in Distress – Has a famed seafood restaurant as it befits to a 300 years old place, formerly a smuggles's in. Book in advance if you are planning a visit. It gets busy and you may get disappointed – 66 Stanpit, Mudeford, Christchurch, Dorset.
The Castle Inn – This charming 16th cnetury pub has a thatched roof and whitewhased walls. It offers real ales and very decent food. Make it a stop after visiting Lulworth Cove on the coast. You can make a weekend of it as the pub also has rooms and it is family friendly – Main Road, West Lulworth, Dorset.
The Griffin – This is a pub for a family day at the Isle of Wight.The garden has a tree maze where children can play, apart from the play area. If you are partial to spirits, you will find they offer and ample selection of cognacs – High Street, Godshill, Ventnor.
The Royal Standard of England – Claims to be the oldest working pub in England, its origin dating to Saxon times - Forty Green Road, Forty Green, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire HP9 1XT.
The Star Inn – Serves locally brewed ales from the only brewery at Bath, Abbey Ales. The interior of this unspoilt pub can be classified as of outsanding historic interest and a perfect example of a traditional pub – 23 The Vineyars, Bath.