Were There Bars in Ancient Times?

When we think of bars, we generally imagine a modern-day establishment with a wide selection of alcoholic drinks and an atmosphere that encourages socializing. However, the concept of bars has been around for thousands of years.

The Early History of Bars

Bars, or similar establishments, have existed since ancient times. One of the earliest recorded examples is the Greek symposium, which was a gathering of men to socialize, discuss philosophy and politics, and drink wine.

These symposia were often held in private homes or public buildings and were attended by wealthy members of society.

In ancient Rome, there were also similar establishments called tabernae. These were small shops that sold food and wine to customers who could consume their purchases on-site.

Tabernae became popular meeting places for people to socialize and exchange ideas.

Bars in Medieval Europe

During the Middle Ages, bars began to take on a more recognizable form as taverns. These establishments primarily served ale and mead rather than wine.

They were often located near monasteries or churches as these institutions brewed their own beer. Taverns quickly became popular gathering places for locals to relax after a hard day’s work.

One unique feature of medieval taverns was the inclusion of a long table called a “trestle table.” This table could be easily dismantled and stored away when not in use.

It was used to serve food and drink to customers who would sit on benches or stools.

The Rise of Modern Bars

The modern-day bar as we know it began to emerge during the 19th century with the rise of industrialization. Urbanization led to an increase in leisure time for workers who sought out places to socialize and drink alcohol.

This led to the creation of bars that were dedicated solely to serving alcohol rather than food.

The first American bar, called the “Cocktail House,” opened in New York City in 1850. This establishment served mixed drinks, which were a new concept at the time.

The popularity of cocktails led to the creation of speakeasies during Prohibition in the 1920s. These hidden bars became popular gathering places for people to drink illegally during a time when alcohol was banned.


In conclusion, bars have been around for thousands of years and have evolved significantly over time. From Greek symposia to modern-day bars, these establishments have always been places where people can come together to socialize and enjoy alcoholic beverages.

  • Key Takeaways:
  • Bars have existed since ancient times.
  • The Greek symposium and Roman tabernae were early examples.
  • Taverns emerged during the Middle Ages and included trestle tables for customers.
  • The modern-day bar began to emerge during the 19th century with industrialization.
  • Cocktail bars and speakeasies became popular during Prohibition in the 1920s.