Whenever you arrive in a new location, do you seek out the nearest neighborhood pubs, bars, or whatever locals call popular watering holes? If so, you are like many other travelers who prefer to learn about other cultures by way of imbibing a glass of an alcoholic drink, engaging in a game of friendly billiards, or just chatting up the bartender and learning the latest gossip. Whether your journeys take you to faraway lands or domestic destinations, it’s always great fun to explore the various forms of pub life, sample new brews, and enjoy a slice of a different kind of life.
What are some of the best cities for pub and bar lovers? It’s impossible to make a shortlist because there are too many excellent candidates. But for pub-life aficionados, Tokyo, Glasgow, Guadalajara, St. Louis, and Los Angeles usually make anyone’s top-25 roster. Here’s why each of those cities ranks so high in this very special category.
Pub devotees get a two-for if they begin their journey in London. After spending an active few days checking out some of the English capital’s historical, famous pubs, you can put your trip into high gear by purchasing train tickets from London to Glasgow for a gorgeous five-hour ride. After arriving in Glasgow, you can indulge your thirst in more than 100 pubs and tiny taverns that dot the city. Some are massive operations owned by corporations, while others are mom-and-pop eateries off the beaten path. Whether your pleasure is wine, spirits, or ale, Glasgow has plenty to offer, along with some of the region’s finest seafood and baked goods.
Japan’s capital gets unfairly criticized for being frighteningly pricey. If you only shop, eat and drink in the tourist traps, it is. But for those who know their way around town, like locals and seasoned travelers, there are plenty of places where you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy adult beverages like sake, shochu, and home-brewed beers like Kirin and Sapporo.
Most pub owners in Tokyo allow regular customers to keep bottles on the shelf, which means the bar holds your whiskey or wine in its storeroom until you arrive and call for it. You get the bottle at a discounted price, and the proprietors know you’ll come back to consume your stash. In marketing, that’s called a win-win. You can also check out Tokyo’s beer gardens some of which offer all you can eat and drink packages so you can get a chance to sample the local brews and bites at the same time.
One of Mexico’s top-ranked cities for bars, pubs, and taverns, Guadalajara is home to more family-owned establishments than any other town in the nation. Some of the best drinking places only have seating for four or five guests, which makes the experience as memorable as it is fun. You’ll make friends when you drink in Guadalajara.
Not even New York City can rival LA’s status as one of the best drinking cities in the world. Every of the individual LA neighborhoods has its own special spots, most complete with pool tables, dartboards, and active karaoke stages. One downside of the LA pub-bar scene is that you need a designated driver because the city is geographically spread out, and public transport is not reliable.
Many travelers are surprised to discover so many unusual, interesting, and homey drinking establishments in St. Louis. After all, it is a major sports city. But SL is also a historical town that straddled North and South during the War Between the States. You can enjoy beer, wine, and hard drinks in family-owned and commercial establishments and then take in a professional game of baseball, American football, or hockey afterward.