I love a bar or what I like to call a joint. My idea of a great joint is diverse people, good food and good drink cheap. A place that you don’t mind going to often that is frequented by your friends. A meeting place, a place to relax, enjoy good conversation and grab a brew. In the states, we have places like that, but they are not places where you see families, kids etc. They are usually bars and the real reason for being there is to drink. Maybe there is some food on the menu. In Scotland the pub is a part of the Scottish culture.
Pubs were originally called Public Houses and their history can be traced back to Roman taverns. Pubs are a drinking establishment, but because so much information is traded there, in smaller places they can be the focal point of the community. Pubs are socially and culturally distinct from cafes and bars. Families frequent pubs as they serve good, usually comfort food and spirits cheaply. The biggest difference however, was that pubs also sold spirits and beer in small shops that were attached to the pub. Once supermarkets and gift shops were able to get licences to sell spirits the shops attached to pubs, colloquially known as the jug and bottle, went away and you are now left with the modern-day gathering establishment that I so enjoyed while in Edinburgh.
While in Edinburg I tried to have a beer at as many pubs as I could. I loved the atmosphere. You can sit with friends and have a conversation, catch up and enjoy a beer and a good meal in a happy atmosphere. I enjoyed how different each pub was from the next. Some were big spaces with lots of light and maybe some live music and others were smaller, cozy area with comfortable couches and chairs; places you could have a real heart-to-heart with someone. I loved the fact that all kinds of people came to pubs, families, groups of friends, co-workers, all there to relax and have a good time. I never once felt the “meat-market” atmosphere that I sometimes encounter in American bars. I felt comfortable enough in the pubs that I went to in Edinburgh to go to one alone.
The pubs I encountered in Edinburgh had many more beers on tap than in most bars I been to in Maryland. I enjoyed to cast ale and grew very fond of Innis and Gunn beer. It is a cast ale some of which is done in whiskey barrels and some old rum barrels. Tasty! I also loved the fact that I could get a half-pint. Most of the beer is 5 or 6% alcohol and as such I really didn’t need to drink a pint all of the time. Having the option of a half-pint was great. I also found pub food to be comfort food. Most of it was really good and relatively inexpensive so I had another reason to like pubs. I love to eat and the food was good. What else do you need?
So…if you are every in Edinburgh, stop into the local pub that you see and raise a glass. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.