Bars, and quite frankly, alcohol have, for many centuries, played a central role in society and the way humans socialize.
If you are the curious type, you might wonder about the origin of the word bar and its modern use to describe a place where people go to consume alcohol and relax.
Is it true what they say that bar stands for beer and alcohol room? Read on to find out.
What is a Bar?
A bar has several meanings depending on the context. Most of us know a bar as a place where we go to enjoy an alcoholic drink alone or in the company of others.
The original and literal meaning of a bar is a long, chest, or waist-high platform over which alcoholic drinks are served. This platform serves as a barrier between the customer and the person serving the drinks, also known as a bartender.
The footrest at the bottom of the platform is also referred to as a bar and is usually made from brass or stainless steel.
In the early days, the word tavern and later pub was used to describe a place where people met to catch up over drinks. Today, these words have been replaced by modern vocabularies such as nightclub, club, or bar. In this sense, a bar also refers to the business premises where alcoholic drinks are sold and served to patrons.
A Short History of the Bar
Now that we’ve described what a bar is, let’s have a look at its history before answering the question of whether bar stands for beer and alcohol room.
While bars have taken on an ultramodern life of their own within the entertainment scene, the concept of stopping by a tavern to catch up with others over food and drinks is quite ancient.
As far back as the reign of the Roman Empire, travelers would check into taverns or inns that would serve their patron food accompanied by alcoholic drinks. With time, tavern owners offered not just food and drink; they also incorporated other forms of entertainment such as gaming and music.
In pre-colonial Britain, public houses, commonly known as ‘pubs’ gained popularity so much so that legend has it that it was made mandatory for each town to have at least one pub. Interestingly, pubs cropped up before churches were even built.
In America, taverns began sprouting up at the dawn of the 19th century. Prohibition was implemented in the 20th century to try to solve what the federal government saw as a drinking problem in the country. The Prohibition made alcohol illegal and this saw many taverns close down but later, alcohol was legalized through the 21st amendment, allowing savvy business people to continue with the trade of selling food and alcohol.
The modern-day bar is a complete game-changer. It is less an accommodation spot and more the epicenter of dizzying entertainment. Today, there are all kinds of bars—some designed to cater to a specific demographic while others are popular for the choice of drinks they serve. Bars truly have a life of their own within the big world of entertainment.
Characteristics of a Bar
What makes a bar a bar? Everything from the service to the décor and atmosphere all come together to make for a standout bar.
The counter is the centerpiece of any bar; it is where patrons like to sit. This area will constitute barstools as well as a footrest for added comfort. Ideally, the bar counter should be about 43 inches high and wide enough to safely and comfortably support guests’ drinks and food.
The area behind the counter where the bartender stands and the drinks are displayed is aptly known as the back bar. How the drinks are displayed is an art in itself and gives the bar, that is, the counter and the business establishment, its character. Bartenders take pride in a well-stocked back bar—from wines to cocktails, spirits to beers; a bar is nothing without a good selection of drinks.
The ambiance is also a defining characteristic of a bar establishment; other than the drinks, the overall atmosphere cupped by the décor are what keep the crowd coming and it is what differentiates a bar from, say a restaurant. The music is a particularly essential component of ambiance. The choice will depend on several factors including the target audience and the type of bar. The music played in a sports bar will be different from the kind you might find at a karaoke bar, for example.
Does Bar Stand for Beer and Alcohol Room: False Etymology
Let us now look at the question: does bar stand for beer and alcohol room? The simple answer here is: no.
The word bar is not an abbreviation, rather, as we have seen, it describes an establishment that sells and serves alcoholic drinks and often offers other forms of entertainment such as music and shows.
The idea that bar stands for beer and alcohol room is what is referred to as false etymology. A false etymology is a ‘falsely held belief about the origin and meaning of a word.’
It is unclear where the idea of beer and alcohol room= bar originated but it is safe to say that there is no truth to this concept.
Even though the word ‘bar’ is often associated with alcohol, many references to the word have nothing to do with booze. Common examples of the usage of the word bar are dairy bar, juice bar, ice cream bar, etc. Clearly, there is more to the word bar than beer and alcohol.
Bars have a special place in the vast world of entertainment. Unsurprisingly, something this popular is prone to all sorts of urban legends.
Although a bar can be a place where beer and other alcoholic drinks are served, the word itself is not an abbreviation for the activities that take place inside the establishment.
Like all urban legends, there is little to no truth to the idea that bar stands for beer and alcohol room.