While we might think of Christmas as a time of peace and goodwill toward men, John Bittles of Bittles Bar in Belfast does not extend that to those ordering soft drinks, arguing that his pub is for “serious drinkers” only.
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One disgruntled would-be patron tweeted on 9 December: “Just been kicked out of Bittles Bar in #Belfast for… wait for it… not ordering a alcoholic drink. Ordered a pint of coke and told it was drinkers only. Absolutely stunned.”
Bittles told Sunday World his side of the story: “This guy came in and ordered a Coke, well a glass of Coke doesn’t really work for me…It was a bit tongue in cheek, but we’re selling up to 700 pints of Guinness a day, we only have a small number of tables so someone sitting there with a coke isn’t ideal.”
The bar, situated in the heart of the Northern Irish capital, only has limited seating, hence Bittles’ decision to prioritise those paying for beer. This is not the first time that the publican hasn’t pulled his punches when it comes to the punters he wants in his place – there is also a sign in the bar stating that its full pints only, no half pints are permitted. He explained the decision: “What’s the point? Tourists come in and order a half pint and then sit with it for ages. We’re a small bar.”
The reaction on social media has been divided between those who view Bittles’ response as bad hospitality, and those who see it as part of the bar’s charm:
“The same bar that says its ‘too busy’ to sell half pints. In a cost of living crisis they can turn drinkers of any kind away? I’ll not be back.”
“John’s famous! I know some people who go to Bittles because they enjoy the spectacle of his attitude towards unsuspecting customers. Don’t take it personally, it mightn’t be right but it is funny seeing someone be so direct. He’s even closed the whole bar sometimes in a fit.”
“If you want a soft drink go to a cafe.”
But, despite mixed opinion, the no and low sector is on the up, particularly with Dry January just around the corner. Even rugby players are getting in on the act.
This article was originally published on thedrinksbusiness.com and has been shared with permission.