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What's the difference?

This has come up a couple of times lately. If I can get a good enough understanding, i might try to write a Wikipedia entry. What is the difference between the following terms as you understand them?


In the midwest anyway when my folks were growing up, there used to be a Tap in many small towns. A Tap is a drinking establishment that sells beer only. Thus the term "on tap".

A Bar or Pub sells beer and wine but no hard liquor.

A Tavern which many small towns have now sells all manner of alcohol but also serves food.

A Lounge or Club sells food and liquor but also features some sort of entertainment.

Anyone else care to weigh in?



( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 18th, 2009 11:01 pm (UTC)
Tap - what you put on a keg to get the beer out
Tavern - upscale bar or dive bar depending on location and clientele
Bar - cheap liquor/beer, loud music, a lot of 18-21 year-olds
Pub - a hangout place that serves liquor, has televisions where one may watch various popular sporting events
Lounge - no idea
Club - mostly loud music and bad dancing, females' drinks frequently spiked with knockout drugs

I have lived in a college town for far too long.
May. 18th, 2009 11:14 pm (UTC)
Somewhat similar definitions from my experience except without the knockout drugs. Most of the places I drink there would be no need.

May. 18th, 2009 11:34 pm (UTC)
Don't Taverns generally haver some sort of music? Also a Bar is likely to have a pool table where as a Pub isn't.
May. 19th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
See all sorts of regional variations.

May. 18th, 2009 11:36 pm (UTC)
Tap: thing you stick in a barrel's bung to let the beer out. Alternately, the thing with the pump and the hose.
Tavern: primarily a meeting place, with a minimal dinner selection and beer. Less emphasis on hard liquor, may be attached to an inn.
Bar: Serves hard liquor, and beers, less of a social space.

Pub: Like a tavern, but with more food options, and some entertainments: TV, pool, darts. Usually carried off in the British style.

Lounge: contains velvet somewhere in the non-curtain upholstery, or any item with a leopard-print pattern. Note: Separate from "ultra-lounge", which is entirely furnished in spare-lined ultra modern furniture, serves techno and gin or vodka, and is populated by utter douchebags in very expensive trendy clothing.

Club: generally more run down, may be attached to a card club or fraternal organization, and serves as a sort of living room for the same.
May. 19th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
Apparently Tap is a term isolated to the midwest I'm finding. I agree with your lounge assesment. I'd forgotten about hte fraternal organization clubs and I used to bartend for an ELK's lodge too.

May. 19th, 2009 12:37 am (UTC)
A bar in my def likely sells liquor too. And I imagine pubs usually serving food more so than taverns.
May. 19th, 2009 03:23 pm (UTC)
I generally call every drinking establishment a bar. Just easier that way. This developed from a round of drinking in a bar of course.

May. 19th, 2009 01:02 am (UTC)
I would agree with your assessment, but would add that I think a "club" generally means they can be selective with who they let in.. either by designated memberships or just some guy at the door who decides if you're cool enough or not.

(Not counting when it means "dancing")
May. 19th, 2009 03:22 pm (UTC)
The selective clubs seem to be an isolated phenomenon. I know in NC, nearly every bar is a private club and you have to be a member or signed in by a member. Of course in big cities they have clubs where they decide at the door to let you in or not. I just don't frequent those kinds of clubs.

May. 19th, 2009 01:24 am (UTC)
British folks call certain places the "Tap" short for Taphouse or Taproom. Usually from the definition of liquor being from a spigot, long plug, or stopper for closing an opening through which liquid is drawn, as in a cask. I think it's also called that because those serviing the drinks would put "taps" on their liquor so that it's easier to store and ready to pour. (Hey that rhymes!) Hence the phrase and reminder "Don't forget to tap your liquor" is common.

A tavern is a place that caters to travellers. They serve food, sometimes they also provide accomodations like a room to sleep in for the night. It's not just a place for booze.

A pub is a place of gathering where booze is served and consumed. It is called a pub which is short for "public house". It used to be that pubs and taverns are interchangeable. But now, the difference is that one is more like a bed & breakfast establishment whereas the other one is a come here and drink up then go home sort of thing. Also some places require people to purchase "memberships" to be able to enter such establishments. A pub (public house) is open to everyone, membership isn't required to gain access.

A lounge is a public waiting room. Cocktail lounges are usually found in airports where people are served drinks before or after flight. Sports lounge are places with big screen tvs that serve up all sorts of alcoholic drinks. These type of lounges are found in stadiums, arenas and such. They are there so that people can still watch the game while drinking up a storm. This sort of "lounge" brought on the evolution of the "sports bar". Which is more of a restaurant style establishment they serve food and alcohol.

A bar is an object that you run into. :P You usually say "Ow" after doing so. It's also a place where people get drunk and try to flirt with people.

A club is an object you hit people witha weapon of sorts. Supposedly, back in the cavemen era, men would hit women with a club and take them home. I guess that's why a club is place that people go to flirt with other people and to find potential "mates" and where they can move spastically almost in a seizure-like manner (pass it of as dance) to some sort of rhythm (no more cro-magnon drum beating here). The more alcohol they buy and consume at said establishment, the more their spastic seizure-like movements become uhm... erratic and well, you get the picture. :P

That's all I know. I figured I'd take a crack at it. Hi poppabear.
May. 19th, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC)
"no more cro-magnon drum beating here"

Really? I guess you've never heard Techno.

May. 19th, 2009 03:25 pm (UTC)
And who says you can't club a woman and take her home anymore.

May. 19th, 2009 11:08 pm (UTC)
Now you have to have a safeword if you're gonna do that.
May. 19th, 2009 02:23 am (UTC)
tap - Refers to an entity's beer selection: "What d'ya have on tap?"

tavern - a roadside waystation featuring food, drink, and (in older times) sleeping accommodations.

bar - a drinking establishment featuring the full range of alcohol. Lower class musical entertainment may also be featured for dancing.

pub - a snooty tavern, without the traditional accommodations for overnight stay.

lounge - features high end drinks, high end musical entertainment, no dancing, and really not much fun. It's the place for people who want to be seen, rather than those seeking an evening's entertainment.

club - features music and what might pass for dancing. alcohol and drugs are prevalent, but it's mostly a modern hook-up location.

May. 19th, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)
Incidentally, my ex - Deva, the one who worked in the ranch department at Philmont - had a grandmother who ran a tavern in Michigan. (It wasn't in her grandmother's name, of course, since women were not permitted to own establishments with an alcohol license.) This tavern didn't provide rooms for the night, so much as I know, but the locals did converge there for food as well as for drink.
May. 19th, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)
So did you not ever run across a Tap in Missouri? In Illinois anyway, all the little towns had either a tavern or a Tap. These are the only things left now that the town has faded away. I can think of several roadside taps in central Illinois now. That reminds me, I left roadhouse off the list.

May. 20th, 2009 03:08 am (UTC)
I've lived several places: Maine, Ohio, Missouri, Arizona, New Mexico... And I've stayed long periods of time in many more. "Tap" was never used to refer to an establishment.
May. 20th, 2009 05:12 am (UTC)
Hmm...it must truly be an Illinois phenomenon.

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )