New York City Has A Pint-Sized Problem

The Big Apple has a little problem; a pint-sized problem to be more precise. The city that never sleeps has many things to be thankful for, like its diverse dining scene (including great seafood), wonderful watering holes, superlative shopping spots, and fabulous food carts. But it's a city of haves and have-nots. 

When it comes to pubs, it's more of a have-not experience. Before you get fired up about the splendid assortment of cozy beer nooks scattered throughout the five boroughs, we'll get specific. Yes, there are a number of pubs out there, including some historic ones like McSorley's, many of which serve excellent drinks, and some with truly solid menus. 

We're not complaining about the options per se, but about what they serve ... and what they don't. Specifically, beer — and not enough of it. Don't dismiss this complaint as the whine of some sniffy undergrad who couldn't find a place to get drunk fast and cheap enough. This is the great longing for beers of a bygone era, the true Imperial Pint that is still standard in British pubs.

Is the glass four-fifths full or one-fifth empty?

While the United States has numerous alcohol-related laws, there are none regulating "standard" sizes for drinks when dining out. This means that a glass of beer, often called a pint, can come in various sizes, some of which aren't anywhere near a pint. What exactly is a pint, anyway?

This is where the history of Britain and its colonies comes in, especially since much of the world utilizes the metric system and pints aren't much of a thing. The Commonwealth and its former colonies often make use of British Imperial Measurements, established in 1824 as a way to standardize units across the country and empire. Since the U.S. was already an independent nation in 1824, the memo fell on deaf ears. Thus, the American pint was set independently at 2 cups worth of fluid, the equivalent of 16 ounces. The Imperial pint, however, measures a full 20 ounces, 25% larger than its American counterpart. 

The 20-ouncer is still the point of reference and pride in the UK. But stateside, you'll be hard pressed to find that size (though it can be done, as Amos Barshad can attest). The usual pint pour is 16 ounces, though glasses of beer can be as small as 12 or 8 ounces, depending on the establishment and sometimes the size of the can your beer comes in – a far cry from Britain. Perhaps it's time for a pint-sized revival of the super-sized sort.