Our A to Z of Bar Styles In Europe

(Nearly A-Z, anyway!)

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Ale House (English)🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

A business, such as an inn or tavern, where ale is sold.

Synonyms: bar, beer parlour, brewpub, pub, saloon.

A popular term to distinguish a drinking hole from being a pub or bar. Often these places fall somewhere inbetween the two, but the term in my mind still feels unnecessary and not necessarily indicative of what to expect, limiting its descriptive usefulness.

Example: Arcadia Ale House, Leeds, United Kingdom

Ausschenk (German)🇩🇪

Literally, a counter from which beer is poured, however in common usage it refers to a venue, and you will see many larger bierhalle and brauhauses make space for a ‘Schenke’ (similar sounding to Szynk, a Polish term for pub), usually a small communal area next to the taps where you can get a beer served and drunk super quick. While some are a little too utilitarian, being set up for short business, they can also possess real atmosphere.

Example: Aachener Brauhaus, Aachen, Germany


Baiuca (Portuguese)🇵🇹

A working class tavern.

Traditionally signifying homely down-to-earth venues offering port, wine, sherry, spirits, though more recently beer. Often they will provide musical performances, so you pay a cover fee on entry which covers the cost of drinks and sundry snacks.

Example: A Baiuca – Fado Vadio, Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal * (full European Bar Guide review)

Bar (Universal)

Any drinking establishment with a bar area could reasonably be called a bar, so this is a safe term one can use fairly broadly. However once you start adding comfortable communal seating and other amenities such as food, pub is a more suitable term to use.

Baras (Lithuanian)🇱🇹

baras m (plural bãrai)
A reasonably catch-all term in Lithuanian for a pub or bar. Easy to remember as well.

Beisl (Austrian / Viennese)🇦🇹

Vienna is famous for its culinary culture and the local Beisls are a must-visit in this field. The word Beisl (or Beisel) is probably Jewish and it originates from the word Bajiss, which means house. Beisls, which evolved in the 18th century are effectively inns offering local specialities. The style of a Beisl is like trattoria in Italy or Kneipe in Germany. In Vienna, these can be stuffy, formal places, and often unsuitable for a drink. However, look out to see if there is an Ausschenk, or pub room, where more informal drinking may occur.
Example: Zur eisernen Zeit, Vienna, Austria

Bierhalle (German/Austrian)🇩🇪🇦🇹

As with many Germanic words this describes in direct literal terms what you can expect. Cavernous halls with long communal tables which specialise in churning out high volumes of easy-to-drink lager and hearty food. Associated with Bavaria for a number of reasons but there are plenty of authentic venues elsewhere in central Europe.
Example: Hofbräuhaus, München, Germany

Bierinsel (German/Austrian)🇩🇪🇦🇹

Insel meaning “island”, this term conjures a sense of refuge about it. Relatively common in Austria, especially Vienna. Not to be confused with the Bierpinsel (Beer brush) in Berlin, a piece of modern architecture.
Example: Gösser Bierinsel, Vienna, Austria

Bierkeller (German/Austrian/Prussian)🇩🇪🇦🇹

An underground bierhalle – in the cellar!

N.B – In Bavarian culture a Bierkeller is – unintuitively – located above ground, normally referring to beer gardens based above or near to where a brewery’s beer is stored. Customers will refer to going ‘on the cellar’
Example: Auerbachs Keller, Leipzig, Germany

Bierstub (German/French/Alsatian)🇩🇪🇫🇷

The word bierstub is an Alsatian word composed of ” beer “, meaning, of course ” beer “, and the word “stub” which designates the heated room in winter of traditional Alsatian houses.
Example: Le Schluch, Strasbourg, France

Bierstube (German)🇩🇪

A room, or other place (usually a German style inn, or tavern, where beer is served. These places should be small and to-the-point minimal, focused on drink. Often these days the term is used for marketing rather than any strict application of the definition, so in terms of what you can expect to find, that may differ a little. Often these places will not open until mid-late afternoon.
Example: Mogk’s Bierstube, Frankfurt, Germany
Bife (Serbian)🇷🇸

Literal translation is ‘Buffet’, however you’re very likely to find a traditional tavern blended with typical Yugoslavian Caffe Bar vibes. Working class, smokey and local. Absolutely. A dive into the unfamiliar.

Example: Bife Joca, Novi Sad, Serbia

Birtija (Bosnia/Former Yugoslavia)🇧🇦🇸🇮

Translating to ‘Tavern’, these days any use of Birtija is more to conjure up nostalgia for times past, than being in every day usage. This is partly due to the standardised “Caffe Bar” format in the region, which itself is a result of licensing laws. If you find anything called Birtija, give it a try.
Example: Birtija, Sarajevo, Bosnia
Boazn (German / Münchner)🇩🇪

Small independent local pubs often Family-run or staffed by adored middle-aged/elderly women. A distinctive feature of Munich.
Example: Bei Otto, Munich

Bodega (Spanish / Danish)🇪🇸🇩🇰

In Spanish, a Bodega is similar to an Osteria (see below), serving drinks alongside food – often cold cuts – in an informal environment. Yet peculiarly, in Danish the term is completely different, referring to dark, smokey, usually cheaper working class drinking holes. Hopefully a Dane can help me explain why they adopted this word.
Spanish Example: Bodega Bellver, Palma di Mallorca, Spain
Danish ExampleToga Vin- og Ølstue, Copenhagen, Denmark

Boozer (British)🇬🇧

A colloquial term for a drinks-focused establishment, routinely on the more common and working-class side. Effectively a British Isles description for a dive or pajzl (see below).

Where did the term boozer come from?

The origin of the word “booze” is often mistakenly credited to E. C. Booz, who was a distiller in the United States in the 19th century. But the first references to the word “booze,” meaning “alcoholic drink,” appear in the English language around the 14th century as “bouse.” The spelling we use today didn’t appear until the 17th century.

The word “booze” itself appears to have Germanic origins, though which specific word it came from is still a little bit of a mystery. The three main words often cited are more or less cousins of each other, and are very similar in meaning and spelling. One of the words came from the Old High German “bausen,” which meant “bulge or billow.” This, in turn, was a cousin of the Dutch word “búsen,” which meant “to drink excessively” or “to get drunk.” The Old Dutch language also has a similar word, “buise,” which translates to “drinking vessel.” It is thought that the English word “bouse,” which later became “booze,” has its origins in one or more of those three words, with most scholars leaning towards it coming from the Dutch word “búsen.”

Borozó (Hungarian)🇭🇺

A fast dying culture of working class wine bars. Simple taverns with a non-exclusive wine focus and simple meals with the final adherents coming to retirement age. Visit as soon as possible to experience an age where wine wasn’t exploited to divide by class and wasn’t synonymous with social climbing. Simple home spun hospitality.

Example: Mátra Borozó, Budapest, Hungary

Brasserie (French / Belgian)🇫🇷🇧🇪

Although this can and does refer to a lunch-diner, brasserie is also a more old fashioned term for a pub either offering its own beers or wanting to show off about how many other beers it has, as you will find more routinely in Belgium, and fairly often in France.  In terms of décor, expect to find a café with perhaps a few more pubby touches than most.

Example: Brasserie Bourgogne des Flandres, Brugge, Belgium

Brauhaus (German /Austrian)🇩🇪🇦🇹

Either a bierhalle with a brewery attached, or out a more homely house with a brewing operation attached. At their best, expect a fine welcome, hearty food, convivial atmosphere and enormously refreshing beer.

Example: Brauhaus Sion, Cologne, Germany

Brewpub (English)🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

An Anglospheric term but by no means an English concept. Any type of pub that also brews its own beer on-site.

Example: Sheffield Tap, Sheffield, England

Brown café / Bruin kroege (Flemish / Dutch)🇧🇪🇳🇱

Fondly named for their wooden, rustic interiors, the brown café is the staple pub of the Low Countries. Normally lacking any cushioned seating and simply offering a quiet egalitarian venue for a drink and a chat, the equivalent to the English or Irish pub. However, with many venues based in historic buildings you can find some incredibly quirky and characterful brown cafés – it is a loosely applied definition.

For extra money in the 19th century, people started to serve alcohol in their “woonkamer” which is Dutch for living room. Often it happened in a situation when the husband was unemployed, and his wife served the drinks. Much of the culture started from there.

If you want to know more about brown cafés, there is a lovely article by Saveur here.

Example: Au Daringman, Bruxelles, Belgium * (follow the link to our full review of the bar)

Buschenshank (Austrian)🇦🇹

A small Inn or wine tavern, similar to a Heuriger (see below). Buschen meaning bunch, schank meaning tap, both point to the wine dispensing on offer.

Example: Buschenschank Kratzer, Kittenberg


Café (Universal)

A venue which may or may not be pub-like or bar-like enough to qualify for this site. This is where Google comes in.

Caffe Bar (Former Yugoslav States)🇧🇦🇭🇷🇽🇰🇲🇰🇲🇪🇷🇸🇸🇮

Ubiquitous, it seems to be a legal requirement for every drinking establishment in Croatia to come prefixed with the term Caffe Bar. Even the menus seem to have come off the same government-regulated printer. Unfortunately it also seems to be a legal requirement for Caffe Bars to be deathly mediocre, swaying from bland promenade cafés to generic eurodance pumping venues with little in-between. You’ll struggle to find venues where much care has gone into creating atmosphere, let alone character. They do exist however, so persevere.

Example: Caffe Bar Libertina, Dubrovnik

Cârciumă (Romania)🇷🇴

A simple homely community pub, with a focus on food and usually a garden terrace where folk music is performed. However this is a term that incorporates a drinking hole as well. A derivative of the Slovak/Hungarian “Krčma” (see below).

Example: Cârciuma Veche, Iași 

Cerveceria / Cervejaria (Spanish / Portuguese)🇪🇸🇵🇹

A very common term found all around in Spain and Portugal, however while this title references beer (cerveza / cerveja), don’t be surprised to find the offerings restricted to one tap of standard lager and 2 or 3 bottles.

These places vary from being actual pubs with the décor and character you’d expect, to brewpubs to simple eateries with aluminium counters and simple seating, often serving tapas and cooked food from over the counter. There can be some character slices of local life to be found but the standout ones with interesting style, community events and so on are devilishly difficult to find.

Example: Cerveceria El Doble, Madrid, Spain

Cocktail Bar (Universal)

Universal and self-explanatory. The focus will be on drinks prepared from scratch from a range of spirits, liquors, bitters, fruits, and anything else they can think of.

More often bland, soulless, expensive and pretentious, but sometimes set in outstanding locations and with interesting decorations or concepts that make them essential to visit.

Example: Rasputin, Florence, Italy


Dive Bar (American English)

Commonly associated with America but frequent in Europe, these place developed the name dives due to their basement situations which you dived-into. Expect a narrow but possibly quite long space with a bar close to the door and often a stage at the back of the room. There is a negative connotation these days to call a bar a ‘dive’, which is based on the seedy and rough historical reputation of many of these places, but the term can be intended affectionately too.

Dorfkrug (Northern Germany / Schleswig-Holstein)🇩🇪

A rural inn with rooms, similar to a Gasthof.


Eetcafé (Dutch / Flemish)🇳🇱🇧🇪

A café bar with kitchen open in the beginning of the evening, where you can also have a meal.

Example: Eetcafé Rosereijn,Amsterdam, Netherlands

Eck (German)🇩🇪

German for “corner”, a common colloquial term for a neighbourhood pub one can drop in for a quick drink.

Example: Eckkneipe, Berlin, Germany


Gaming Pub (Pan-European)

A drinking venue where games of all kinds are available, but predominantly video games. Usually either down and dirty, aimed at the young, or sterile and well financed, aimed at 80s/90s kids. Balancing the gaming and drinking can be difficult though, and some blur the line between A Pub/Not a Pub

Example: Dungeon Pub, Bratislava, Slovakia

Gaststätte (German)🇩🇪

An old-fashioned and quaint format. Old-school pub restaurant, perhaps nearest to the Czech hospoda (see below). Less formal than the average restaurant and reasonably communal too.

Example: Lommerzheim, Cologne, Germany

Gin Palace (English)🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

All the rage in England and parts of the British Empire during the 1700s and 1800s, receiving lavish, ornate decoration, the legacy of which is now – in theory – carefully preserved.

In the 18th century, gin shops or ‘dram shops’ were just small shops (often originally chemist’s shops as gin originally had medicinal associations) that sold gin mostly to take away, or to drink standing up.

In the late 1820s the first ‘Gin Palaces’ were built, Thompson and Fearon’s in Holborn and Weller’s in Old Street, London. They were based on the new fashionable shops being built at the time, fitted out at great expense and lit by gas lights. They were thought to be vulgar at the time, although hugely popular. Charles Dickens described them as “perfectly dazzling when contrasted with the darkness and dirt we have just left

Whether you like Gin or not, these places are often fabulous to sit in.

Example: Gin Palace, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Gostilna (Slovenian)🇸🇮

Now a nationally protected trademark, the Gostilna is a stereotype of a welcoming country inn, with hearty cooking, enormous portions and folk traditions. You will often find a separate pub-room for locals popping in for a drink, while the guests dine separately.

Example: Gostilna Pri Planincu, Bled, Slovenia


Heuriger (Austrian)🇦🇹

A family winery which hosts, for certain periods of the year, big buffets and open-house, pub-like socialising. They open in order to show off their new wine (the term being an abbreviation for ‘This Year’s Wine”. Often making use of partially covered courtyards and open spaces, barbecues and performance areas, this is a social scene distinct from many others.

Example: Lucky’s Heuriger, Graz

Hospoda / Hospůdka (Czech)🇨🇿

The universally understood Czech word for pub, also a catch-all term to describe pretty much any public establishment serving beer that isn’t a café or restaurant.  Known as ‘gospoda’ in Poland which, funnily enough, is the Serbian term for a gentleman.

The stereotypical hospoda is a minimalist arrangement with simple tables and chairs, often without windows looking out onto the street. The entrance way will be protected by way of a curtain (traditionally to allow men to check on the state of the place before inviting their partner into the pub). Food is almost universally available at a hospoda – even the most drinks focused will prepare ‘beer snacks’ – an array of pickled vegetables, cheese, meats, and quite often klobasa – hot sausage.

Example: Krkonošská Hospůdka, Prague, Czechia

Hostelry (English)🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

A colloquial description for an inn offering some form of comfort and shelter from the outside of some sort. Best used to describe ‘traveller’s rest’ type places, especially those with rooms. You won’t see this used on signage very often.

Hostinec (Czech)🇨🇿

If you can tell me the true difference between Hospoda and Hostinec , I’d like to know. In the past these terms may have implied differences in grading and quality, which in turn went along class lines. These days, whatever difference used to exist is now blurred. It seems to now be mostly to distinguish a business for marketing purposes.

Example: Hostinec U Bláhovky, Brno

Howf/Howff (Scottish/Scots)🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

A haunt, a hidey hole. In this context, a cosy little pub.

Example: The Wee Howff, Paisley, Scotland


Inn (English)🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

A fairly broad term for a pub offering rooms, usually located on important travelling stops. ‘Coaching Inns’ broke up long journeys made on horseback, but these had a nostalgic revival in the mid-20th Century with the advent of the motor car. Now an Inn is most likely associated with country cooking or those enormous ex-coaching inns that have been turned into open plan ‘day out’ family pubs with children’s play areas. The former function of offering accommodation is far from guaranteed at Inns nowadays.


Kajuit (Dutch / Surinamese)🇳🇱

A room or establishment where alcoholic drinks are served over a counter. So, that narrows it down. Not in very frequent usage in Netherlands.

Kapileió / καπηλειό (Greek)🇬🇷

An alternative Greek term for ‘tavern’. So similar to the English word ‘Chapel’ that it’s amusing to think of a pub given such reverence.

Karczma (Polish)🇵🇱

See Kocsma/Krčma below. A kitchenette/pub, usually with rustic stylings and home comforts. Not uncommon to have evening folk performances. More of a community venue.

Example: Karczma Smily, Kraków, Poland

Késdobáló (Hungarian)🇭🇺

An amusing description of a rough pub in Hungarian, translating as “knife-thrower”. Universally understood and likely to raise a smile if you bring it up with a Hungarian.

If you want to learn more about the rich history behind the term, I recommend spending time to read This (.pdf download)

Example: Fácánkakas, Debrecen, Hungary

Kneipe / Knajpe (German / Pomeranian / Silesian)🇩🇪🇵🇱

Small, bar-like pubs, traditionally focused on offering tap-dispensed beer and often consumed while standing/leaning. Working class at their core, you these days you will find these cosy, often smokey and down-to-earth. Don’t be surprised to find sports screens and pumping eurodance.

The term is a shortening of the term kneipschenke, which already existed in the 18th century.  These were rooms that were so narrow that the guests had to sit together.

Example: Tscharlies Musikkneipe, Wurzburg, Germany

Kocsma (Hungarian)🇭🇺

Originally, a traditional Hungarian pub or ‘kitchen’ offered basic food served around communal tables. Generally down-to-earth in nature, these types of kocsma are unfortunately dying out in droves, along with the case of the 60-somethings that inhabited them.

Kocsma remains a carry-all turn for a pub, and so while one tradition dies, the ritual itself lives on.

Example: Jazz Kocsma, Szeged, Hungary * (Click here to read our full review!)

Kõrts (Estonian)🇪🇪

A traditional Inn with focus on simple, often rustic hospitality, although like other terms it has a general catch all application that may be applied to a restaurant or city pub too.

Example: Nõmme Kõrts , Nõmme

Kra / Kro (Icelandic / Danish)🇮🇸🇩🇰

Meaning not just pub but ‘quiet corner’. Whether that turns out in practice when the beer starts flowing would be up to an Icelander to tell you.

Krčma (Czech / Slovakian / Hungarian)🇨🇿🇸🇰🇭🇺

Difficult to distinguish between Krčma and Hospoda these days, but Krčma is a more direct indication that the establishment will serve cooked food (90% of hospudky do this anyway) and therefore there is a certain extra onus on the place to do this well. Overall they can be more rustic country leaning venues.

Example: Krčma u Parašutistů, Prague, Czechia

Kroech (West Frisian)🇳🇱

A West Frisian derivative of Kroege (see below). Friesland is in the North of Netherlands and shares some cultural heritage with the neighbouring region of Germany.

Kruchma / Кручма (Bulgarian)🇧🇬

A derivative of Koscma / Krčma / Karczma (see above) . You can certainly see how the old empires and language of the Slavic races led to a lot of language and cultural overlapping.

Kroege (Dutch / Flemish)🇳🇱🇧🇪

Low Countries term for a café, but don’t expect coffee to be the primary concern. These places are often small, minimalist in style and focused on simple beer drinking. Don’t be surprised to see retired folk tucking into their first beer early in the morning.

The bruin kroege, or brown café (see above) is the oldest, and usually finest example of a kroege.

Example: In De Reisduif, Bruges, Belgium
Krog (Swedish)🇸🇪

A Swedish term for a pub or bar, reasonably catch-all as this seems to apply to restaurants, modern theme bars and old-man venues.

Krog is so similar to Krogs and Kroege, (see above) that one imagines this term was coined during the Hanseatic League where Dutch and German traders established links with the Baltic ports.

Example: Aifur, Stockholm, Sweden

Krogs (Latvian)🇱🇻

A Latvian term for a pub or bar, reasonably catch-all as this seems to apply to modern theme bars just as much as old-man venues.

Krogs is so similar to Kroege, (see above) that one imagines this term was coined during the Hanseatic League where Dutch and German traders established links with the Baltic ports.

Example: Krogs “Sidrabiņi, Jelgavkrasti, Latvia

Klubokawiarnia (Polish)🇵🇱

Club and coffee house? In my experience of going in venues with this description, it is an awfully long way of saying ‘Bar’, though there is perhaps an expectation for a venue with this name to open later and stay open later.

Example: Klubokawiarna Proletaryat, Poznan, Poland


Lokal (Germany & Central Europe)🇩🇪🇦🇹🇨🇿🇸🇰

A widely-used central European term for a neighbourhood/corner pub, most likely serving lunch.

N.B –  Lokál is now a brand name for a nostalgia-chic Czech diner franchise (one which – beer aside – is already becoming mediocre and not-so-good value)

Example: Wenkers am Markt, Dortmund, Germany


Механа / Meyhane / Mejhana / Mejhandžinica ( (South Slavic/Turkish)🇧🇦🇧🇬

Meaning house of wine and is composed of two Persian words: mey (wine) and khāneh (house). A meyhane used to serve mainly wine alongside mezze platters until the late 19th century when rakia established itself as the quasi-official national drink of Bulgaria. In Serbia, the word is considered archaic, while in Bulgaria it refers to a restaurant with traditional food, decoration and music not unlike a pub setting.

Example: Механа “Старата къща” Самоков

Mescita (Italian)🇮🇹

A tavern or wine shop in Italy. Staffed by a mescitore.

Micro-Pub (English)🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

A one-room pub format attempting to revive a time before mobile phones, fruit machines, thumping music and so on. Some have taken on an overly Luddite attitude which even extends to banning swearing. However, the format is very effective in its simplicity, and when done well genuinely redolent of old-time pub going and similar to brown cafés that can be visited in Belgium, Netherlands and Northern France. The craze was popularised first in Kent before spreading elsewhere, taking off after relaxation of licensing laws governing certain retail spaces, for instance shopping arcades.

You can now browse England’s Micro-Pubs via the Micropub Finder!

Example: Stumble Inn, Scarborough, England


Obecni Hospoda (Czech/Slovak)🇨🇿🇸🇰

A municipal pub. Yes, that’s right. A community owned, often council funded venture. While increasingly rare, these serve as the focal point in small or isolated villages, and represent a true oddity. Expect a very simple unstylish format, albeit with amenities such as food, games, etc.

Example: Obecní hospoda Chodouň, Chodouň, Czechia

Ølstue (Norwegian / Danish)🇳🇴🇩🇰

An Alehouse or Tavern. Øl meaning Ale, stue meaning Room. Stue is similar to the German word Stube, and so Bierstube see (above) is a near identical translation.
Example: Toga Vin- og Ølstue, Copenhagen, Denmark

Osteria (Italian)🇮🇹
A drink-focused bar where food is present but to compliment what you are drinking. These can be ancient places with hams hung on wooden beams and food prepared behind the bar itself. Due to market demands these are becoming ever more food-focused and restaurant-like, but there are some that retain the atmosphere of a pub, albeit in a more low-key way.

Example: Osteria del Sole, Bologna, Italy

Oluttupa (Finnish)🇫🇮

An Alehouse or Tavern. Olu meaning Ale, tupa referring to room, although it is interesting to note how ‘toper’ is English for a heavy drinker.
Example: Heinäpään Oluttupa, Oulu, Finland


паб / Pab (Bulgarian / Ukranian)🇧🇬

A Cyrillic translation of pub, and routinely used to describe pubs across most East and South East Slavic nations, covering a fairly broad range of informal pub/restaurant.

Example: Pab47, Lviv, Ukraine

Pajzl (Czech)🇨🇿

A Czech term for a dive. Expect these to be based in the half-basements of old Czech buildings where you can still see street level through the windows. Smokey, usually small, down to earth and raw, pajzl is often used just as much as a term of endearment as an insult.

Example: U Drevona, Prague, Czechia

Pijetore (Albania)🇦🇱

Colloquial term rather than a marketing one. Often a guesthouse with a bar and pub room, their version of an inn.

Piváreň (Slovakian)🇸🇰

There is little discernible stylistic difference between a Piváreň and a Czech pivnice, but you will see this word in Slovakia A LOT. It may denote a brewery or a taproom specialising in one particular brewery’s wares.

Example: Piváreň Lagúna, Ružinov, Slovakia

Pivnice / Pivnica (Czech / South Slavic)🇨🇿🇧🇦🇭🇷🇽🇰🇲🇰🇲🇪🇷🇸🇸🇮

Pivnices are often located in cellars or rooms with curved ceilings and there are many featuring the name that sport that distinctive look. These are food-focused, arguably casual pub-restaurants and rely on being busy to generate atmosphere. However, pivnice, which contains ‘pivni’ (beers)  is still routinely used simply to refer to simple pubs focused on drinking.

Meanwhile, Pivnica, is a common word in the Balkans for a bar focusing on beer, which can be anything from a grand bierhalle to a generic Caffe Bar.

Czech Example: Pivnice U Rudolfina, Prague, Czechia
South Slavic Example: Pivnica “Tajson”, Sarajevo, Bosnia

Pivnushka / Пивнушка (Ukranian / Moldovan / Russian)🇺🇦🇲🇩

A vodka-belt term for a beer-focused pub. Often very small, old-fashioned and working class. Definitely the most exotic-sounding term, though!

Pivoteka (Czech)🇨🇿

A newer term, Pivoteky are often similar to micro-pubs in format, one room, or bar area + side room in format, and the focus is minimalistic, all about the latest tapped beers. These can be pretty good – friendly and communal, or they can be cold and soulless if they go for the craft-beer look.

Example: Pivoteka Žižkoff, Prague, Czechia

Presszó (Hungarian)🇭🇺

A dying breed of pub-bars (a nostalgic and sad tale can be read about them here) the Presszó, aka Eszpresszó is a link between the Iron Curtain days and the modern era. Rent has forced working class people, and the businesses they frequented out to the fringes, and so these places are clinging on, or having to change their appearance and prices to survive. A revivalist movement of sorts has emerged however they have taken the name on rather than the format.

Example: Terv Presszó, Budapest, Hungary

Proeflokaal (Dutch / Flemish)🇳🇱🇧🇪

A ‘tasting house’, a highfalutin term for what are usually down-to-earth homely venues. The tasting will often refer to the Dutch liquor jenever, but includes pubs or cafés which offer a range of beers too. In my experience most pubs starting with this title are likely to be of interest.

However, to confuse matters, in the last few years, some soulless copycat modern venues have begun to adopt the title Proeflokaal, some not even offering the tasting format this term was intended for, making searching for the authentic venues a more difficult task.

Example: Proeflokaal Arendsnest, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Pub (Universal)

Perhaps the ultimate catch all term for a communal space for people to drink and socialise, but generally not an appropriate word to describe a ‘bar’, where the focus is on the bar area and more on drinks preparation. At the very least, a pub should allow for social conversation.

Public House (English)🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

The full original term for pub. Self-explanatory, however worth noting that its origins were for families to invite people around to their house and offer their cooking and refreshments.

Putyka (Czech / Slovakian)🇨🇿🇸🇰

Yet another Czech pub term beginning with P, putyka denotes a ‘greasy spoon’ type establishment. Colloquially, “boozer” (see above) is a reasonably synonym. Down-to-earth (that’s sometimes putting it mildly), raw and ungentrified, however even this concept has started to take on hipster-leanings and been brought into line with the various all-dress and no-knickers modern pub formats where the quintessential elements of pubgoing are being forgotten.


Ruin Bars / Romkocsma (Hungarian)🇭🇺

Bars that have inhabited derelict buildings and not fully refurbished them, instead offering the surroundings as a sort of museum to wander around. Strewn with graffiti and DIY décor, these all tend to be individual in character. Most provide a wide range of amenities in order to fill the space. An idea that to our knowledge originated on the east-bank of Budapest, Hungary.

Although there are bars elsewhere in Europe which have taken inspiration from this movement, they tend to be on the clean and corporate side.

Example: Szimpla Kert, Budapest, Hungary * (Click here to read our review of the bar!)


Saloon (English)🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

An alternative name for a bar room, traditionally a space within a wider pub rather than a pub itself. Saloons generally offer more comfort in terms of the seating, or serving to partition different groups of people. Synonymous with Western films.

Similar to the French term ‘Salon’, often tea rooms or cafés, which became a bohemian term when alcohol was served in these decorous places. While you may find some splendid Victorian saloons in England, these tend to be less showy and simply denote the type of room in a pub.

Schwemme (German)🇩🇪

A simple communal area of a bierhalle (see above) or tavern (usually the cellar vault) which serves as the main congregation area for drinking, as opposed to dining. The word itself loosely translates to both ‘inundation’ and ‘sink’, partly nodding the head to the hordes that descend to drink beer, also potentially a reference to the large volumes of beer tapped and poured. Schwemme is a colloquial term and perhaps intended to be used pejoratively – seeing as this was traditionally this was an area for the working classes – before adopting a more fond recognition and sentimental quality these days (possibly because the levels of hygiene are better).

Be aware in Nord-Rhine Westphalia, Schwemme is synonymous with Ausschenk (see above) a small tap room area, dedicated to drinking typically distributing Kölsch or Altbier from the barrel.

Example: Hofbrauhaus am Platzl, Munich, Germany

Síbín / Shebeen (Irish / South African)🇮🇪

A síbín was originally an illicit bar or club where excisable alcoholic beverages were sold without a licence. The term has spread far from its origins in Ireland across the Commonwealth nations. Pubs attempting to revive their atmosphere are well worth seeking out for their intimacy and cosiness.

Shisha Bar (North African / Middle Eastern / Turkish)

An establishment to smoke shisha and drink tea. Not things we are overly concerned about here, but it has novelty value if you fancy socialising without alcohol. It is possible to find bars where both drinking and shisha are available.
Slijterij (Netherlands)🇳🇱

A pub that either used to or still will sell hard liquor such as Jenever to drink in or take away. In practice many carrying the name have ceased and use it for affectation, however that is not exclusively the case and some venues carrying the name even distil their own wares.

Example: Cafe Slijterij Oosterling, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Sörház (Hungarian)🇭🇺

A brewery taproom, sometimes to sample and take away the wares of the brewery, other times with seating + food.  “Sör” refers to beer.

Example: Gyertyános Sörház, Debrecen, Hungary

Sörozo (Hungarian)🇭🇺

A common thrown-around term for a bar or pub in Hungary. Actual appearance, style and atmosphere may vary wildly. Very commonplace.

Example: Clock söröző, Budapest, Hungary

Speakeasy (American English)

Referring to prohibition-era bars in the US, speakeasies became clandestine locations to drink and – inevitably – partake in lots of other illegal activities without fear of arrest. However, since the ending of prohibition, bars are now set up in the style of the time, often substituting exclusivity for the genuinely anti-establishment thrills which they can no longer achieve.

Example: Nightjar, London, England

Staminee (French / Dutch / Flemish)🇫🇷🇳🇱🇧🇪

A colloquial abbreviation of Estaminet, meaning tavern, consisting of a bar and public rooms that serves light meals, but isn’t focused primarily on food, usually turning into an outright bar later in the day.

Example: L’Estaminet, Brugge, Belgium

Szynk (Polish)🇵🇱

A taproom or saloon, these days normally used to denote a focus towards the quality of tapped offerings, be that beer, kvass or cider. Szynk is a derivation on Ausschenk (see above), a Germanic format of taproom.

Example: Szynkarnia, Wroclaw, Poland


Tabanco (Spanish)🇪🇸

Traditional sherry bar from the Andalusia region of Spain (particularly Jerez de la Frontera) which offers sherry and vermouth from the barrel, often with tapas and live folk or Flamenco performances.
Taberna (Spanish)🇪🇸

Traditional Spanish tavern generally serving wines, vermouth and 1 tapped lager with a full kitchen, although smaller places may simply offer bread, cheese and cold-cuts of meat.

Example: Taberna Antonio Sanchez, Madrid, Spain

Taphouse (English)🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

A bit like Ale House (see above), this is largely a marketing term to let you know that, shock horror, this drinking hole offers drinks on tap, but isn’t a yuck-disgusting-spit-hack PUB! How awful and common! Generally a term adopted by establishments pretending to be something but not actually curious or bothered enough to actually do properly.

Tapperij (Dutch)🇳🇱

Dutch term for a simple no-nonsense watering hole focusing on drinks. Like a lot of terms however, fashions may mean that this term is adopted for new venues which don’t follow the original meaning closely, if at all.

Example: Tapperij Thijs, Utrecht, Netherlands

Taproom (English)🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

See Ale House, but often smaller. These days just as much a modern affectation for a bar.

Tafarn (Welsh)🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

See Tavern.

Tavern (British)🇬🇧

Pubs often converted from workshops/sheds/small barns, but nowadays this is simply another word that has travelled with us down the years and had its meaning bent and hewn to mean whatever you like, within reason. Want to call your craft-ale venue in a 1970s shopping arcade a tavern? Go right ahead. Being purist about it, my idea of a tavern is a multi-storey pub with exposed beams, a central bar area and table service. Don’t assume you’ll be getting that.

Tschocherl (Austrian)🇦🇹

Colloquial term for a small family-run Beisl, or Weinstuberl, often refers in class terms to a little dive bar or local rather than anything upscale. The phonic similarity to ‘Chuckle’ hasn’t gone unnoticed, so there are a couple of comedy clubs with this name.

Tiki Bar (Universal)

Hawaiian-themed cocktail bars inspired by beachside drinking. Amazingly, rather than simply being another theme pub they are spoken of in such specific terms I feel obliged to include this as a specific thing.

Example: Kona Kai, London, England

Trahter (Estonian)🇪🇪

A Tavern, often referring to a more rural pub. As usual, this gets applied broadly so some may be closer to restaurants.

Example: Trahter Tareke, Kose-Risti, Estonia 🇪🇪


Vinárna (Czech)🇨🇿

Anything from a cutting edge wine bar to the rapidly closing remnants of the old days, family run cosy old pubs with a wine focus.

Example: Vinárna U Bielase, Ostrava, Czechia
Vinoteka (Czech)🇨🇿

A place to buy wines with space to sample and drink wines, as with Pivoteka for beer. A drinking establishment as well as a shop.

Example: Vinotéka a vinárna Jezuitská, Znojmo, Czechia
Výčep (Czech)🇨🇿

Czech word for tap, referring plainly to a tap room. This may be smaller and simpler in style to a traditional Czech pub and will predominantly focus on tapped beer. It is not unusual to be stood up in these places.

Example: Výčep Na Stojáka, Brno, Czechia


Weinstube (German/Austrian)🇩🇪🇦🇹

A traditional Inn focusing on local wine. Dying out in Germany, those who keep it alive are awarded the ‘Stammtischbruder‘, or “brother of the locals” in honour of their efforts to preserve the tradition. The award seems to be a block of wood with some nails driven in to it. These venues are designed to feel homely, distinctive and very traditional, often family-run, however you may as easily fine one which has simply co-opted the name and provides a much more bland experience.

Example: Altfraenkisch Weinstube, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Wódki i Piwa bar (Polish)🇵🇱

Usually a small venue with a young crowd. Knock back a vodka and stand around with your friends supping your beer. As you’d expect, these places are loud and energetic, while the emphasis is often not on the décor, with the exception of some retro chic, perhaps.

Example: Pijalnia Wódki i Piwa, Olsztyn, Poland


Zapf (German)🇩🇪

A word for tap but a valid colloquial reference to a pub or kiosk serving beer vom fass, or on tap.

Zoiglstube (German)🇩🇪

A term for a family enterprise who make use of municipal brewing facilities to make their own beer, and then invite families in their town to their house. Zoigl may refer to ‘sign’, in this case the brewing star (which is identical to the Star of David) is hung outside their house at times of the month where they are open for business. Outside of a few villages in Northern Franconia near the Czech border who partly keep the tradition alive for the sake of novelty, this type of pub is dead. If you are interested I strongly recommend trying to visit.

Example: Zoiglstube Beim Binner, Windischeschenbach, Germany

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