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Rough Pubs

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The Pitbull and Hammer, a traditional British rough pub.

“The landlord of The Broken Arms, Brentford, took issue with my smoking jacket and general demeanour, mistaking me for someone called "Nancy". Funny story, and the main reason I walk this walk to this day. Never did find those missing teeth though...”

~ Noel Coward on Rough Pubs

In every town in any country with a pub culture, there will be at least one rough pub. The names change from venue to venue, but they can be recognised by certain traits they all share such as broken windows, semi-derelict appearance, mouldy plasterwork and smell. If you walk past a pub and later discover you have caught fleas, you can be certain that you've found a rough pub.

How To Find A Rough Pub

If, for some reason, you feel the desire to go drinking in a rough pub, you will first need to locate such an establishment. Rough pubs can be found in different places in different countries. A number of Rough Pub Guides can be found in most good book stores.

  • In Britain, they can generally be found in deprived city centres or on industrial estates. Friendly local neo-Nazis may be able to enlighten you as to their whereabouts, otherwise just watch which direction all the police cars head towards at closing-time on a Saturday night. Should you stumble across a rough pub while it's closed - and many of them never close - you will be able to recognise it as a traditional rough pub by the bloodstains and puddles of vomit on the pavement in front and unconscious drinkers slumped up against the exterior walls.
  • American rough pubs - known as rough bars - tend to be placed in different areas to those commonly taken by their British equivalents. For a start, they're usually in America. Most of them will be situated out of town, often on the state line or in the desert. They usually have a large car-park (or parking lot) at the front, which will be full of Harley-Davidsons, hot-rods and trucks, which makes them much easier to spot than British rough pubs.
  • Australian rough pubs are the easiest of all to find. Ask any local where the local pub is (you may have to ask in Strine. Try: "G'day moit. Ya wouldn' happen ta' know whe' th' nearest watering-hole eez would ya?", or the simpler "Whereza pub?") and then follow their directions. It doesn't matter which pub they direct you to, because all Australian pubs are rough pubs. If you find yourself in an Australian city, just walk 20 meters in any direction and you will find yourself outside a pub, which will be guaranteed to be rough, as the roughness of a pub is a legal condition of its liquor license.
  • The Scottish have regulated their rough pubs and helpfully relocated them all to one area. If you can find Glasgow, you've found the rough pubs. Confirmation that you're in a Glasgow pub invariably takes the form of the friendly greeting, "What are you lookin' at?"
  • In New York City rough bars often have people passed out outside in pools of vomit. This is confirmed when the bartender asks "You talkin' to me wiseguy?" when you order a drink.

Types of Rough Pub

Eric Babyface McMiggins, diminutive Landlord of "The Angry Dwarf", Cambridge is currently serving 3 to 5 at Her Majesty's pleasure following the "accidental" death of 47 of his regulars.

Many rough pubs are consciously rough. The management (often retired gangsters) are well aware of their establishment's reputation and wish to preserve it, hence they name their pub something along the lines of "The Pitbull and Hammer" (pictured above) or "The White Supremacist". This type is the classical British rough pub and often serves as the centre of the community, holding free events for the local populace such as British National Party meetings and hosting gigs by far-right neo-nazi skinheads.

Oirish rough pubs are, interestingly, never found in Oireland where all the pubs are full of cheery, happy-go-lucky men all named Paddy or Mick and beautiful red-headed ladies named Siobhan (pronounced Sarah). The clientele of these establishments spend all day every day drinking Guinness (which, they will tell you, is far better than the stuff you get in London) and listening to live traditional Celtic music. If the pub ever closes, they merrily make their way home, perhaps stopping to shoot a (preferably British) Protestant or two and maybe plant a few bombs, if the mood takes them. To find an Oirish rough pub, you will need to go looking in the UK - the best way to find one is to listen outside a few different pubs until you come to one where somebody is singing Danny Boy, very loudly, very drunkenly, and getting the words wrong.

'Wanky' rough pubs are often disguised as wine bars, cocktail bars or ten-pin bowling alleys. Most large towns have at least one, often to be found in an old, converted cinema or warehouse. These are the largest pubs of any type and may have a capacity of over a thousand people - however, on a Friday or Saturday night, they will often squeeze in more than three times this amount. Scientists who specialise in pubology have not yet been able to explain why every person in a pub of this type will be named either Kevin or Wayne if male, or Sharon (Sheila in Australia) or Tracy (pronounced Try-see) in the case of females.


Mongolian pubs are a lot like our own but without the smell of yak urine and the women are a lot less hairier.
  • Wifebeater XXXX is by far the most popular drink in rough pubs. Based in Belgium, this brewer has attempted to improve its image by sponsoring independent and art film festivals, also paying for such films to be shown on national television in the UK. However, it remains the favoured beverage of British chavs, neds, and violent arseholes. Wifebeater comes in bottles made of extra-thick glass, making them the most suitable bottles to smash people in the face with during a pub fight.
  • Scheißebräu is also served in British rough pubs. This high quality German beer is often found in the roughest of pubs. This beer is popular among the chavs, gaining a huge amount of drinkers in 1992 when it was banned across most of Europe for its violent after-effects. This beer is made of roughly 0% alcohol, but the chavs, neds, and liberal undesirables who drink it are such lightweights that they would get drunk if they took a deep breath of British puke air on a misty morning.
  • 15% Skullfucker, also known as Special Brew, was originally brewed to cater for the 'crazy street-drinker' demographic, a valuable niché market for brewing firms as drinkers of this type often spend as much as £50 a day on alcohol.
  • All rough pubs serve cider, because cider is the favourite drink of teenage girls, and rough pubs want to attract teenage girls because they in turn attract lecherous old men - one of the biggest drinking groups yet identified. However, almost all pubs serve cider, so discovering it in a pub is not necessarily a sign that the establishment is a rough pub. You will need to pay attention to how the cider is served: if it comes by the cute little British dimpled pint, you are probably not in a rough pub. If it's served in a three-litre blue bottle with a label saying "Diamond White," you are almost certainly in a rough pub. If not, ask for a Dicken's Cider.
  • A sure sign of a rough pub is a methylated-spirits tap on the bar. The better type of rough pub will have two types - traditional Meths, consumed at room temperature, and Meths Extra Cold for the ladies.
  • Urine remains a perennial favourite tipple, generally from the tap marked 'F.'

The Licensee

Smiler McPsycho, the landlord of "The Merry Stabbers", Bristol, warmly welcomes all new clientele.

As stated previously, the landlord of any rough pub is likely to be an ex-gangster, who will have acquired the capital to buy the premises by robbing a bank. It is quite likely that they have kept the sawn-off shotgun they used and now keep it under the bar to help persuade anyone who complains that the beer is watered down that this in not, in fact, the case.

One notable example of this type of licensee is Peggy, landlady of the notorious Queen Victoria situated in Albert Square, Walford, London, who made an undisclosed sum of money from various illegal activities in the East End during the 1960s.

In the case of Oirish rough pubs, the licensee is very unlikely to actually be Oirish - especially if it's an American Oirish pub (although their great-great-great grandparents may have met an Oirishman once). One rare example of an Oirish rough pub with a landlord who is, in fact, Oirish is Pete O'Phile, landlord of "The Pig and Hurl" in Liverpool (note: 'hurl' refers to the axe-shaped weapon stick used in the traditional Oirish sport known as hurling, rather than to bodily functions displayed by regulars after their seventeenth pint of Guinness at about 2pm every afternoon).


Rough pub-style meat curry, as served at "The Track-Marked Arms", Chavham, Kent. That's not a parsley garnish, it's actually something growing on it.

On the whole, food in rough pubs will be limited to crisps, served by the packet from a large box with the best-before date scribbled out. However, in recent years, rough pubs began to experiment with other foodstuffs in an attempt to increase their turn-over.

The first food tried was peanuts, which went on sale at "The Sawn-Off and Rottweiler Tavern" in Bradford, in 1989. Peanuts were an instant success, with sales of over 20 packs a week. The manufacturer of the peanuts then came up with a revolutionary idea - they attached the packets to a piece of card with a picture of a naked lady printed on it which could be hung behind the bar, so that every pack bought revealed a bit more of the image. Sales instantly rocketed to 40 packs a day.

Once it was shown that food could be a valuable money-spinner in rough pubs (after all, a high percentage of the clientele in rough pubs never leave, and they have to eat occasionally), several establishments introduced other dishes. As a case in point, "The Pitbull and Hammer" currently has an extensive menu, including the following:

  • Special Brew and Kebab Meat Pie, made from road-kill the freshest ingredients and deep-frozen then warmed up in the microwave cooked to order by their NVQ Cookery (failed) fully-trained chef. The recipe is along the lines of that traditional and popular British pub staple, the Steak and Ale Pie, but adapted so as to appeal to Real Men.
  • Meat Curry at just £1 a plate.
  • Named Meat Curry at £2 a plate.
  • Various drugs.
  • Dead babies.
  • Seventeen different varieties of Kittens.
  • Microwaved pies which are scalding hot round the crust but frozen solid at the meat (if you want to call it that) centre.

Rough Pub Games

'Big' Bev Buckfast, a regular at "The Crow Bar," Portsmouth is the current reigning champion in the all UK Happy Slapping League. (Picture of Codeine's Mother kindly provided by Codeine)

Pub games have been a feature of pubs since pubs were first invented, and usually take the form of darts, snooker, cribbage, dominos and the like - pleasant, gentle games that can be played for small wagers. Rough pubs have adapted some of these activities to suit their discerning clientele, for example:

  • Traditionally, darts is played by throwing small, pointed darts at a dartboard. In rough pubs, this has been transformed into a game known as shooting, in which a hand-gun is used to propel a small metallic object known as a 'bullet' into the head of 'that bastard who still owes me a hundred quid for that cocaine I sold 'im last month, the cunt.'
  • Snooker has been replaced with a game known as GBH, which requires less space because it does not use the large and ungainly snooker table - this has the added advantage of freeing up more space to fit drinkers into. Instead, the snooker cues are smashed round the head of a similar character to that used in 'shooting.'
  • Fighting is a popular game in rough pubs. The participants in rough pub fights usually have no training from a recognised body such as a martial arts club, and hence are often over-looked as sportsmen. However, anyone who can hold their own down "The Cross-Bow and Coke-Habit" come closing-time on a Saturday night is a true professional.
  • Badger Baiting. Contrary to popular belief, badgers are not the gentle and jovial creatures that appear in The Tales of Beatrix Potter and The Wind In The Willows. They're actually extremely hard, vicious and usually very pissed-off mentalists that spend much of their time getting shit-faced on rotten, fermenting apples. Feeding a badger a bottle of Scotch and shoving it in a pit with a couple of English Bull Terriers is a popular entertainment in many rough pubs, with most establishments waiving their usually-strict 'No Children' rule so that the kids of regulars can come along and join in the fun.


Fun and fellowship at "The Razorblade and Racist Inn", Oldham, Lancs, as regulars enjoy a televised football match.

Walk into any rough pub anywhere in the world, and you can meet exactly the same sort of people. No matter which country, and no matter which type of rough pub, only the accents of the regulars change.

  • Gangsters can be found drinking in all rough pubs, not just running them. You can recognise them by their facial scars (worn proudly as proof of survivng a 'Glesga Chibbing' attack) and limping, a sign that they've been knee-capped at some time in the past. They will usually wear a suit with an odd, gun-shaped bump on the chest.
  • Gangstas can also be found in rough pubs. This group can be recognised by the way they talk - much like a combination of the gangsters and Rastafarians. They too have facial scars, but theirs are caused by overly vigorous wanking rather than vicious beatings at the hands of enemy gangs. Rather than suits, they tend to wear clothing with fake designer labels and baseball caps.
  • Homo Habilis They first appeared on Earth about 2 million years ago. They did not do much at first and just sat at home inventing things like the wheel, discovering things like fire and trying to beat their previous highscore on geometry wars. Now they have given up these former hobbies and have instead taken it upon themselves to rid the world of bad booze. They are however doing this in a stupid way; they have not grasped the concept of supply and demand.
  • Women, of a sort, can often be found in rough pubs. The younger ones are usually touting for business and can be recognised easily as they often have at least two small, screaming children stuffed under the table (and often a small, screaming child-to-be on the way stuffed in the womb). They will be drinking either cider or WKD Blue. The older variety are best kept away from - although they tend to be in the rough pub to get drunk rather than to find trade, many of them will, after thirty pints a glass of wine or two, develop a delusion that they 'still have it'. This will lead them to try to ensnare the attentions of a young man - if you are unfortunate enough to be the young man in question, be warned that this sort of 'woman' is not actually a human woman at all, but a type of vaguely-female monster that is much, much stronger than you. If she wants it, you won't be able to do a thing to stop her.

See also

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