When expats learn they are moving to London from America they often envision close mates enjoying a pint together at the local pub. While that definitely is a British scene one will most likely experience while in the UK there are rules one must learn in order to succeed (and not offend) in the pub scene. Many of the British etiquette rules pertaining to pub manners are similar or identical to those in US bars or restaurants but many are quite different and must be learned in order for one not to appear rude after moving to London from America.
Moving to London from America – Drink Buying
Typically if a group goes out to get drinks at a pub each person either takes a turn buying a round for the group (buying everyone’s drink) or each person gives money (say, ten pounds) to a community pot with one person the designated drink buyer. If a round is bought it is only polite to offer to buy that person a drink. That is good manners around the world, but buying rounds may be a new concept for many expats just moving from America.
Moving to London from America – Tipping
Bartenders in the UK are not tipped. If one is impressed by a bartender’s service it is customary to offer to buy them a drink of their choice which is not typically done in the States. If dinner is bought while out drinking a tip is in order but is much less than the standard 15% or 20% tip Americans are used to paying. In England if the tip is not included in the bill (which it often is) one is only expected to tip 10% or a pound or two.
Moving to London from America – Closing Time
One of the biggest differences between the local pubs and American bars is the hours kept. Many cities in America allow bars to serve alcohol into the early morning hours. A typical English pub will close at midnight – some even at 11pm! Also like American bars British pubs have ‘last call’, the last chance to buy a drink before they close. Once ‘last call’ is called drinkers have about twenty minutes to finish up before being kicked out into the street.