The Economist.com: Pubs are Britain’s national pastime. Three-quarters of the population indulge and a third consider themselves regulars, far higher proportions than are claimed by any of the country’s religions—football included. And they are unique to the British Isles. The Germans have beer-halls, the French have cafes and most other societies have bars, but only in Britain and Ireland can you find pubs. There are procedural differences (there is no table service at pubs, something that causes endless confusion for tourists) as well as different pastimes once you arrive (it is hard to imagine sophisticates in a Parisian bar playing darts or Scrabble). But what really sets a public house apart from its foreign counterparts is the conceit that it is not a place of business, but a part of a person’s home that is open to anyone.
Ahhhh. Makes me thirsty. Read the whole thing (over a beer).