For a country as geographically small as the UK, it sure has its fair share of diversity with what to drink.
Summer? Pimms No 1.
Winter? Mulled Wine!
Daytime? Tea tea tea.
Just kidding - there's no right time for a hot cup of tea or a great gin martini, right?
The world of alco-beverages in the UK has expanded over the years but products like Sparkling English Wine, the good old ciders, ales and lagers, and of course, whisky without the “e” are timeless.
As with the rest of its neighbouring EU countries, the UK likes to drink in social settings and might be one of the world's most buzzing destinations for drinks. Because London is culturally diverse and has a population from nearly everywhere in the world, it is rather hard to pin down set rules on how to drink in the city.
However, the following 5 guidelines will surely help you blend in with the local crowd
1. Buy Rounds
It is common for one person to head to the bar, order for the entire group, and pay the total amount. Once all glasses are empty, another person takes cue to repeat the activity. This is especially true for casual evening beers or match days.
You’ll rarely see people splitting up the bill, or “paying their share” on the spot.
2. Dress Well
A hat, suede shoes and a smart jacket might sound over the top, but it's not. No matter where you go, t-shirts or flip flops are looked down upon, even if it cannot technically keep you out of the bars. Dressing well is part of life for the English, and the attempt will surely be appreciated.
3. Serve yourself
Unless you go to an absolute fine-dine, most other places have little service staff. The bars are full, and when you place your order, you’re expected to wait a couple mins, get your glasses directly from the bartender and walk over to your table. There might even be trays on the side of the bar in case you’re buying a round for the whole group!
4. Public drinking is not allowed
But it is common - especially in the numerous parks, along the canals or the sides of the river. It is extremely ordinary to pick up takeout food, get a couple of beers from the local Sainsbury and pop it open in a picnic. It's a great way to save a lot of money while still enjoying the London experience - Just pray that the rain gods are on your side that day.
5. Don’t be afraid of a Wetherspoons
Wetherspoons is the largest, oldest and most popular pub-chain of England, and each branch looks different. The menu accommodates the area's local preference, and there is a difference in how classy, laidback, or notorious the place can be. It could be looked at as a “budget” venue mostly meant for students or retired people, but there is a strange sense of comfort, especially if you’re in a new borough.
Of course, there are exceptions everywhere, especially in a city as big and populated as this one. So in general, go with the flow. The English are largely polite people and will be approachable enough in case you’re unsure of your conduct.
Written by Stuti Khetan, Beverage Trade Network