A pub crawl (sometimes called a bar tour or bar-hopping) is the act of a group of people drinking in a number of pubs in a single night, normally walking between them. A similar act, but involving coffee instead of alcohol, is known as a café crawl.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term (including variations like 'gin crawl' and 'beer crawl') has been in use since the late 19th century. It's purportedly called a "crawl" because the participants are literally crawling from pub to pub after getting drunk at the first few pubs.
Pub crawls in suburban areas often involve the use of an automobile for transportation, due to pubs being farther apart and the lack of public transportation. This is a common situation in the United States because of its largely dispersed population. Rather than driving drunk, some pub crawlers use the designated driver system or taxis. For special occasions, such as bachelor parties, people sometimes charter a van, bus, or limousine with a professional driver for the evening.
Many European cities have regular organised public pub crawls that act as social gatherings for the local expat communities and tourists. These pub crawls focus on the social aspect of meeting new friends and being introduced to new bars in a strange city. Examples of these include the FunkyParis pub crawl in Paris and the FunkyRiviera pub crawls in Nice and Cannes, The Ultimate Party in Amsterdam and the New Berlin and New Munich Pub Crawls in Germany.
The Dublin Literary Pub Crawl started in 1988. It's themed around the haunts of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Brendan Behan. Professional actors lead it and perform spirited selections from the works of great Irish writers. www.dublinpubcrawl.com
Some pub crawls are organized as an annual event. For example, it is common for Irish-American groups to have a bar tour on or around St. Patrick's Day. The group may even have t-shirts made for the occasion.
Some pub crawls are held for charity. Participants pay a flat fee, which allows then to enter all of the participating bars, without having to pay cover charges at each bar. The fee may also include a certain number of drinks. A portion of the proceeds is then donated to a particular charity.
Themed pub crawls
The pubs chosen for the crawl can be chosen according to a theme. Examples of some themes are:
- Chicago's Twelve bars of xmas pub crawl (aka, "TBOX"), which has been held annually since 1996, and had over 1,700 attendees in 2004. Starting at 10:30AM, revelers traverse bars in Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood, many in Christmas-related costumes.
- The Monopoly Pub Crawl, which involves drinking at a pub on each of the London streets on the board of the British version of Monopoly. It can also be embarked upon in any city or country having a Monopoly Board dedicated to it.
- The Evening Standard Pub of the Year pub crawl, which involves drinking at each winner of the prestigious London award.
- Pub golf — consists of 9 or 18 pubs (holes) where a drink is taken at each hole. Commonly the rule is the amount of 'swigs' from a pint is your score, e.g. if you down your pint in 1 you get a 1 scored on your card, down in 3 and you have a 3 score added, the winner has the lowest score at then end.
- The Dublin Literary Pub Crawl is a themed tour around the haunts of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Brendan Behan. It's led by actors who perform spirited selections from the works of great Irish writers. www.dublinpubcrawl.com
- The "Golden Mile", a feat attempted by many in Stoke-on-Trent whereby the participant must drink in all pubs from the bottom of London Road to the town centre of Stoke.
- A Poker Crawl is a tradition of the American mid-west (meaning north-central states) and involves participating venues dealing a playing card to each "crawler" for each drink purchased. Best hand upon completion wins a door prize. This is done for charity fundraisers. Transportion may be by van, motorcycle, or snowmobile.
Examples of famous pub crawls
- The pub crawls in Rome, Italy are famous for backpackers and students alike, running all year round. Colosseum and Homer's pub crawls have been around since 1999, were featured in Lonely Planet and Rick Steve's guidebooks as well as the Discovery Channel.
- The Otley Run - a pub crawl down Otley Road into Leeds City Centre, UK. One of the largest in the country.
- The 7th of the month pubcrawl - held on the 7th of each month, started in Leeds March 2003. Each pubcrawl generally has four pubs, and starts where the last one finishes. The aim is to stick to Real Ale pubs and not visit the same pub in a 7 year period.
- The Undie 500 from Canterbury University to Dunedin, New Zealand. Entrants purchase a car for under $500, decorate it and drive from Christchurch to Dunedin, stopping at designated pubs on the way.
- The A-Z pub crawl in London - in alphabetical order, participants visit 26 London pubs whose names start with the appropriate letter of the alphabet (the 'X' is particularly difficult and generally requires at least some level of cheating). The comprehensive coverage of the London Underground is essential to the success of this crawl, as participants find themselves criss-crossing the city.
- The Adelaide University Engineering Society (AUES), a student society within the University of Adelaide, holds the largest pubcrawl in the Southern Hemisphere. The crawl is held in March each year and draws thousands of students wearing a themed t-shirt each year. The theme is usually a parody of well-known children's literature, such as "Thomas the Tanked Engine" or "Where's Wobbly".
- The Red Line Pub Crawl, in which participants use the Red Line (Chicago Transit Authority) of the Chicago L to visit numerous Southside, Chicago Loop and Northside pubs.
- In the City of Oswego, New York, college students from the State University of New York at Oswego participate in a yearly pub crawl known as the Bridge Street Run on the final day of classes at the college. Students travel to approximately 20 different bars on Bridge Street, the main thoroughfare located in the city, over a distance of 2 miles drinking at least one alcoholic beverage at each bar. Hundreds upon hundreds of students wearing white t-shirts line the 2 mile stretch of Bridge Street. White shirts are worn,, everyone carries a marker pen, and vital information is written on the t-shirt, such as: Beers drank, Kisses, Shots, Bars, and whatever else one feels inclined to keep track of. These shirts are signed by friends and other random fellow Bridge Street Runners along the way.
- The King Street Run, an English pub crawl in Cambridge.
- The Eccles Eleven, visiting the 12 Joseph Holt Brewery pubs in the Eccles area of Greater Manchester. Unfortunately not possible now as several of the pubs are no longer owned by Joseph Holt's. The area still remains popular for pub crawls, however, as it has the highest number of pubs per person for any area of the UK, all literally yards from each other.
- The Didsbury Dozen, a crawl of the upmarket bars and pubs from Didsbury, Manchester, to the city centre. A choice of two drinks is established for each venue, getting stronger as one advances along the route. In some cases, mixed drinks are eventually introduced (often a revolting cocktail of beer, cider, rum, and others) and participants who cannot handle the alcohol are expected to perform a forfeit of some sort.
- The Duval Crawl, drinking at every bar on Duval Street in Key West, Florida.
- The Campus 14 - a bar crawl around the University of Nottingham campus.
- The Mumbles Mile pub crawl in Swansea, Wales. Featuring all the pubs along a mile long road in Mumbles.
- The Rose Street pub crawl of Edinburgh, Scotland.
- The Royal Mile pub crawl of Edinburgh, Scotland.
- The Circle Line pub crawl of London, England. Involving going to a pub at every stop on London Underground's Circle Line. Most famous of these is the Waitangi Day Circle Line pub crawl, where thousands of young New Zealanders living in London do the crawl to celebrate their national day, including a stop-off for a mass haka at Westminster as Big Ben tolls 4pm.
- The Hamtun pub crawl of Southampton, England. Involving only going to pubs within the walls of the medieval town of Hamtun (The old name for Southampton).
- Stora nationsrundan - drinking at all 13 student nations in Uppsala, Sweden.
- The Barathon bar race of Montreal, Quebec, which involves drinking a total of 4.2 litres of beer and a shooter representing the 42km of a marathon. This is done by drinking a half-pint in 18 different bars along a set course on the Plateau Mont-Royal, followed by a shooter in the final 19th bar representing a sprint to the finish line. The maximum distance between bars is 300m, so efficient drink-ordering technique and chugging ability are crucial.
- The Roman Romp in Bath is a Bath University organised pub crawl where all participants wear a Roman style toga.
- The Wiesbaden Pub Crawl in Germany.
- The Subcrawl, involving a circuit of the subway system in Glasgow, Scotland
- The Bev Road Run- Visiting the many public houses on Beverley Road in Hull, East Yorkshire leading from the City Centre to the top of Cottingham Road. The UCH Sharks American Football team Alumni perform the "Bev Road Run" every January.
- The World's Biggest Pub Crawl in Maryborough, Queensland, current holder of the World Record for biggest pub crawl.
- The A370 Pub Crawlfrom Bristol to Weston-super-Mare. The best attended pub crawl in North Somerset.
- The Undie 500, where students from Canterbury University, New Zealand buy a car for under $500, decorate it in theme and drive from Christchurch to Dunedin, stopping at pubs in towns en route.