Beers and Bars

Coming home brings levels of reverse culture shock to an all time high. I forgot how tall and evergreen the trees were. I forgot the rules of personal space and even suggested to friends that we meet for dinner at 10pm. Most of all I’ve been thinking about how different it is to go to the average bar here, where I come from beer is the drink of choice and its anything but run-of-the-mill. Bars that sell craft brews, I think, in a way celebrate a local tradition and product the same way the average wine bar back in Spain might. I decided to compare the two for everyone, hopefully you get a kick out of seeing how just the basics change for me being back home.

In the Northwest

• Not 21? You’re likely not getting past the front door.
• Last call for drinks is around 1:45 and bar is closed more or less by 2am.
• HAPPY HOUR! A time of day (early evening, afternoon) when you can get food or drinks for a reduced price.
• Bar tenders are friendly they work for tips and try to maintain great customer service.
• The average beer is ~7% alcohol by volume, served in a pint glass and will set you back around $6.00
• Food is usually available for purchase, otherwise you just get your drink
• Water is free and made readily available
• It’s typical in many bars to take your credit card as a way to ensure you close your tab. You pay upon ordering.


In Madrid

• If you appear under 16 years old and you’re not with your family you may not get in. After 16 you’re welcome to order whatever you want.
• There is no last call, bars typically close around 4:30am, and dance clubs close around 7am, sometimes later.
• Bar tenders take a quick and dirty approach to their job, they don’t make tips and they don’t seem to really care the slightest about you. They know, however exactly who is next in line and absolutely honor the order, no matter how mixed up and pushed around people get.
• The average beer is ~4-5% alcohol by volume, served in a small 4oz glass and will set you back around $1.25.
• Food is available for purchase but every drink you order includes a tapa, a small little snack usually bread with tortilla or olives.
• Water is not readily available and absolutely not free, unless you ask very politely.
• Nobody will take your card out of your sight, its an EU law and you typically pay once you’ve enjoyed your drinks and are ready to leave.


See the slight differences? I think comparing the way bars operate totally shows how things we consider commonplace in either setting can throw you off, change your schedule or alter your expectations.