I dunno if I'm right about the meaning of these words.

What do you call the person who owns a bar, or a pub? And the person who serves you with drinks at the counter? [As the two may not be identical ...]

What to yell [though maybe it is not that polite, but who cares when a bit tipsy anyway] to address either of 'em? :-)

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    What to yell to address the person who serves you drinks at a bar? “Hey! Oi! Hey!”, of course. Aug 31, 2014 at 23:28
  • So you wouldn't shout "Bartender!" or "Barkeeper!". Is it incorrect? Aug 31, 2014 at 23:35
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    Thanks Janus! And, just to clarify it for myself, a barkeeper owns the pub or bar, while the bartender gets you the drinks, right? So they are not the same guys, though can be in some small pubs where the owner himself works behind the counter. I mean when you're still sober and can identify faces ... :) Sep 1, 2014 at 0:03
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    Bartender certainly gets you the drinks. The barkeep(er) can be just another word for a bartender, but it can also be the owner. To be safe, the latter would simply be the owner of the bar (or bar owner). Sep 1, 2014 at 0:04
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    Bar means two different things: the bartender works at the raised table where the drinks are purchased (meaning 1); the bar owner owns the entire establishment (meaning 2). Pub and inn only have meaning 2, so pubtender and inntender don't exist. Bars, pubs, and inns are different things, so their owners and keepers are different things, to. The fact that they're often called barkeep, innkeeper, and pub owner, with three different second elements in the compounds, is just idiomatic icing on the, erm, booze. Sep 1, 2014 at 0:31

3 Answers 3


In England, in my 10 years running pubs, and another 10 years working in them, I have encountered many terms for the various people you might find working in a pub:

  • Licensee: holder of the licence to sell alcohol. Often the owner of the business (not necessarily the owner of the premises), sometimes a manager. In some cases there are joint licensees. You would not address someone as "Hi, licensee" though. However, the Police (or similar) may ask to speak to the licensee, or licence-holder. Since the Licensing Act 2004, they may now ask for the DPS, which stands for Designated Premises Supervisor, who may be the licensee or a duty manager.

  • Landlord/Landlady: Generally the person, or one of the persons, who runs the pub. This is usually used in terms of independent pubs, in which the owner is a single-site operator. In this case it is generally also the licensee and his wife/husband/partner who hold these titles. You might say "Good evening, landlord/lady", as a regular customer, but would not use "Hey, landlord" to get their attention.

  • Publican: Similar to the above but refers to the profession of running a pub, and is how I described myself to people when they asked what I do for a living.

  • Barman/barmaid: A person employed by the landlord/manager to work behind the bar. In the UK you would not say "Hey, barman" or "Hey, barmaid" to attract attention. Nor would you say "Good evening, barman/barmaid", except in a rather ironic way to a member of staff that you knew well.

  • Bartender/server: Relatively modern additions to pub vocabulary in the UK, mostly used in job adverts to avoid breaching the employment discrimination laws.

  • Barkeep(er): Totally unused here.

  • Gaffer: what many of my regular customers called me. Even though I was the landlord and licensee, owner of the business, tenant of the premises, and often the barman/cook/cellarman/gardener/woodcutter/cleaner etc.

Finally, to address the matter of what to yell. Yelling to get attention will bump you down the queue in most UK pubs, not up. Whistling and finger-clicking will have a similar effect. A simple "Excuse me", or a small upwards nod of the head, or just holding (NOT waving) some money in front of you and looking hopeful is often the best technique. A bounce of the eyebrows while you're within the server's line of sight will remind them that you have not yet been served.

On a topical note, there is some excellent light-hearted advice for those who have forgotten that a pub is for life, not just for Christmas. These rules are well-distributed around the web, so I'ev reproduced them in full here:

It’s that festive time of year when decent, honest boozers are plagued by non-drinkers. And not real non-drinkers, not people who don’t ever drink, they’re fine. We’re talking about people who don’t go near a pub for 11 months out of the year!!

Here’s a guide on how to not be quite so awful

DO NOT APPROACH THE BAR UNTIL YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT The bar is NOT the place to think or choose or decide.

DON’T START DRINKING AT 4pm You’re NOT a drinker. We haven’t seen you all year. You’re an amateur, so don’t start out with a marathon.

YOU ARE IN A ROUND I don’t care who you’re with, how many of you there are or how well you know them. You are in a round with all the people you came in with. That’s how it works.

KNOW WHERE YOU ARE Look around you. What kind of drinking establishment are you in? Is it a pub or a bar?

We’re a pub adorned with wood furnishings and hand-pulls, so stop trying to get the landlord to make that s***ty cocktail you saw on Sex And The City

HOT GIRLS GET SERVED FIRST Welcome to Western Civilization.

iPHONE ETTIQUETTE Our music has been specifically selected to offend the least amount of people and I like it. If you want anything else, then you want to be at a club or a gig.

ATTRACTING ATTENTION Newsflash: You are NOT next. You might have been in the bar queue longer than anybody else, but that doesn’t mean you’re next.

Do you know why? Because there are no ‘Official Rules Of Queueing At The Bar.’ The bartender is 100% in charge of who is next. So do not p*** them off.

PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT If an old bloke sat at the bar gets served before you do, and the bartender knows him by name and even seems to know what he’s drinking before he orders it – that’s Bob. Bob drinks here all the time. Bob drinks here five times a week, every week. Bob’s custom pays the bills.

Bob and the other Regulars keep the pub open eleven months of the year whilst you’re having dinner parties and bulk-buying booze from the supermarket. Yes, they get preferential treatment. Accept it.

TIME IS TIME (sometimes) Pubs don’t stop serving because they hate you (that’s a lie, sometimes they do) or because it’s funny or because they get bored of selling beer.

It’s a legal requirement for them to stop serving at a designated time. Once Time is called, they are legally unable to sell anymore beer.

You cannot cajole them into selling more, because it’s a legal requirement. You cannot bribe them into selling more, either with the promise of drinks or money, because it’s a legal requirement.


Really there are three things you want to distinguish: the owner; the manager; and the person serving the drinks.

For a pub, the owner would just be called the owner, but you probably wouldn't meet him or her, unless the owner was also serving in another role. The manager would be the landlord, and probably would be hanging around somewhere. The person serving the drinks would be the bartender.

But it's not usual to address someone by job title anyway, other than in a few select cases ("Prime Minister", "Headmaster", "Doctor", etc.). I doubt that shouting "Bartender!" would get you served particularly quickly or accurately.


I think you're looking for Publican/Licensee and Barman/Barmaid/Barkeep(er).

I don't think licensee is a term of address, but the rest should all be good.

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