Future pub special

Legal view: A possible future for pubs

By Jonathan Smith

- Last updated on GMT

Poppleston Allen the pub of the future

Related tags Alcoholic beverage

It’s arrived at last! It’s Saturday night and weeks of anticipation culminate here. My wellbeing health app tells me that I can safely drink six units tonight without going over my weekly unit allowance.

With the drink-driving limit now being such that even half a pint is likely to put one over the limit, I decide not to ask my friend to drive me to the pub but instead I call a cab for us. Within five minutes, the driverless electronic taxi has arrived and we input the name of the pub that we usually visit to watch football into the onboard computer — it is one of the few remaining that can afford to show live football and has not been converted into a convenience store.

Arriving 10 minutes later we are, as usual, met by the door staff who ask us to blow into the breathalyser before allowing us into the bar.

We have a choice in our method of service — the novelty of ordering from the robotic barperson at one end of the bar; the beer dispenser cabinet in the corner; sitting at our table while we order using the inbuilt table technology, or lastly, speaking to a human being.

We opt for the human being. Whichever decision we have made, we will be asked before the drink is served to again breathe into a breathalyser. 

The option at the robot bar is to blow into a mouthpiece at the bar, and only after doing so will the robot known as C-3PO sell us alcohol. If we had failed, a “Drink Sensibly” advice leaflet issued by the local police would have spat out of our mechanical friend’s mouth.

We prefer a human telling us how much we can drink, while nervously speculating on the ABV of the mouthwashes we used before brushing our teeth earlier in the evening.

The barman arrives and points us to the notice behind the bar that sets out each and every measure of alcohol we can order, but we always struggle to find it among the plethora of other notices behind the bar, ranging from food allergies to health and safety to the biggest one of all, which states, “Drinking alcohol can cause drunkenness”.

We order two pints. He says, almost robotically, “Have you considered halves?” I reply with a glint in my eye, “One-nil to them after 45, then we pull two back in extra time”. With a quizzical look he returns to the bar, his compliance requirements complete.


Our drinks thankfully come in glass pots; one of the chief reasons we use this pub as opposed to the other pubs in town showing the football, all of which have been required by the police to serve alcohol in plastic glasses for most sporting events. As we sip our beer carefully, strangely aware that no less than three CCTV cameras are watching our every move, a couple of regulars walk past on their way to the tiny smoking room.

This will be their last cigarette before half time — the room has no screen and no seats, but at least they don’t have to put their coats on.

Apparently the ventilation system has caused noise complaints from neighbours — the very ones who complained about the smokers standing outside. I’m just glad I never said “yes” to Nick O’Teen.

We settle back in the comfy sofas, having had the sense to pre-book them (more in hope than expectation) three weeks previously, half an hour before the game kicks off.
We watch the various commercial breaks leading up to the kick-off, none of which contain even the slightest hint of any alcohol advertising.

Finally, it is 8pm and the nation holds its breath as Harry Kane and Daniel Sturridge kick off the match as England take on Germany in the final of the Euro Cup 2020.

Related topics Licensing law

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