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In the colonial era of the United States, taverns were an important meeting place, as most other institutions were weak.
During the 19th century saloons were very important to the leisure time of the working class.
Today, even when an establishment uses a different name, such as "tavern" or "saloon" or, in the United Kingdom, a "pub", the area of the establishment where the bartender pours or mixes beverages is normally called "the bar".
The sale and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages was prohibited in the first half of the 20th century in several countries, including Finland, Iceland, Norway, and the United States.
If those under legal drinking age are allowed to enter, as is the case with pubs that serve food, they are not allowed to drink.
In some jurisdictions, bars cannot serve a patron who is already intoxicated.
A cocktail lounge is an upscale bar that is typically located within a hotel, restaurant, or airport.
In some jurisdictions, bar owners have a legal liability for the conduct of patrons who they serve (this liability may arise in cases of driving under the influence which cause injuries or deaths).
Bars often also sell snack foods such as potato chips (also known as crisps) or peanuts, for consumption on their premises.
Some types of bars, such as pubs, may also serve food from a restaurant menu.
Cities and towns usually have legal restrictions on where bars may be located and on the types of alcohol they may serve to their customers.
Some bars may have a license to serve beer and wine, but not hard liquor.