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A bar is a long raised narrow table or bench designed for dispensing beer or other alcoholic drinks. They were originally chest high, and a bar, often brass, ran the length of the table, just above floor height, for customers to rest a foot on, which gave the table its name. Over many years, heights of bars were lowered, and high stools added, and the brass bar remains today. The name bar became identified with the business, (also known as a saloon or a tavern or sometimes as a pub or club, referring to the actual establishment, as in pub bar or club bar etc.) is a retail business establishment that serves alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine, liquor, cocktails, and other beverages such as mineral water and soft drinks. Bars often also sell snack foods such as crisps (also referred to as potato chips) or peanuts, for consumption on their premises. Some types of bars, such as pubs, may also serve food from a restaurant menu. The term "bar" also refers to the countertop and area where drinks are served. The term "bar" derives from the metal or wooden bar (barrier) that is often located along the length of the "bar".
Bars provide stools or chairs that are placed at tables or counters for their patrons. Bars that offer entertainment or live music are often referred to as "music bars", "live venues", or "nightclubs". Types of bars range from inexpensive dive bars to elegant places of entertainment, often accompanying restaurants for dining.
Many bars operate a discount period, designated a "happy hour" or discount of the day to encourage off-peak-time patronage. Bars that fill to capacity sometimes implement a cover charge or a minimum drink-purchase requirement during their peak hours. Bars may have bouncers to ensure that patrons are of legal age, to eject drunk or belligerent patrons, and to collect cover charges. Such bars often feature entertainment, which may be a live band, vocalist, comedian, or disc jockey playing recorded music.
Patrons may sit or stand at the counter and be served by the bartender. Depending on the size of a bar and its approach, alcohol may be served at the bar by bartenders, at tables by servers, or by a combination of the two. The "back bar" is a set of shelves of glasses and bottles behind the counter. In some establishments, the back bar is elaborately decorated with woodwork, etched glass, mirrors, and lights.