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BAR: where the word comes from

Genesis of a characteristic place of our culture

Almost all of us have a bar on the corner of the street that has become over time the place of the heart where to be to chat, meet friends or grab a coffee, have a snack standing at the counter.


This is because in Italian culture,the bar has always been a versatile place: by its nature open from early morning until late evening, which sells sweets and small sandwiches or pizzas, coffee and drinks (alcoholic and not) all day. It's the place to go for a typical breakfast,or a snack at any time of the day. And after dinner, late in the evening, it is the ideal place for a bitter and an aperitif in company.

In Tuscany it is also the order of the day to find historical ones, complete with chandeliers and original furniture, in a privileged position in the most picturesque squares of the city.


The clientele can be composed of tourists (if we think of those described above) but the hard core is made above all by citizens, often by pensioners, who often spend part of their day inside them: we can safely say that both types of bars are part of the iconography of Italian and Tuscan culture.


But where does the word BAR come from?


  • The hoax on social media

No, we do not want to disappoint you, but the word bar is not the acronym of "beer and alcohol room" hoax that is circulating so much on different social networks, especially in the English-speaking world: in simple words according to these sources BAR would indicate a room where to consume beer and alcohol. It seems perfectly acceptable as a hypothesis, but it is usually a reverse acronym excellent especially for hoarding likes.


It is a fairly common practice that of inverse acronyms – phrases built ad hoc and a posteriori in order to resemble the real acronyms, but precisely does not tell the true genesis of a word, and in our case, it is certainly not the story linked to BAR.


  • The most common version


Although there are several slightly different hypotheses, the most accredited worldwide is that the word bar is the result of the contraction of the term bar.

Sbarra should have its origin from English (barrier) or French (barre), Latin (bar) or Old Germanic (baro)... In short, there is no single version, as there are also different interpretations on why the word bar has become the term to indicate the public establishments in which drinks are consumed.

A first theory derives from the custom, in the ancient taverns, to separate from the rest of the room (with a bar in fact) the corner dedicated to the sale of alcohol.

Another possibility, is that the original meaning was barred,in the sense that the entrance to the alcohol area was prevented, a custom very typical of the English-speaking world, where English legislation prohibited its consumption.

Another version claims that the concept of bar referred to the physical separation between the seller of alcohol and customers, but here it is... Let's say that a unique explanation is not given.


  • The version we like the most


There is a further version, and it is the one we like most of all (sorry for the parochialism!).

There is a strong possibility that the term BAR, was literally invented by a Tuscan, to be precise in 1898 by Alessandro Manaresi, an entrepreneur who opened the first restaurant of this kind in Florence: BAR, would be the acronym therefore of Banco A Ristoro.


Many want to take credit for the birth of the word: what do you think?



Image sources: bar italiano, il reporter, pinterest, wine news