The history of bars or taverns, as they were known, dates back to the British era when many bars were opened to entertain the huge crowd, which had come in due to the gold rush. It is believed that Jamaica had more churches and bars for each square mile compared to any other country in the world.
These taverns served Jamaica and Antigua spirits, Sangaree, Negus, punch, and lemonade. They also serve “slings”, which are liquids containing spirits and water, sweetened with loafsugar and nutmeg. The other non-alcoholic drinks served in these bars included punch, tea, coffee, chocolate shakes, and wines. However, the French officers introduced the fashion of consuming brandy.
Rum bars and dancehalls have become the recreational hub where most people express themselves through music and dance. Dancehalls and rum bars have become the place for social interaction and entertainment for the working class.
These days the operators of a good rum bar organizes many activities for its patrons such as partner saving schemes and round robins, birthday parties, theme parties, costume parties, anniversary sessions and talent contests.
Some big bars have pool and billiards tables, dominoes, and cards games, all played for cash prizes. These bars typically have a variety of slot and gaming machines for their customers’ enjoyment. The conventional rural bars still own and run jukeboxes. Every good bar usually has a sound system and selector, either fulltime or on weekends.
A very vital function of the bars in Jamaica is that this is where the most contemporary releases in dancehall music are launched and played. Similarly, when the course plotting of motorcades is being planned, stopping for a small amount of time at strategic bars is deemed obligatory.
A relatively recent additional service, which the more trendy bars provide to the entertainment business, is their use as videotape sets, now and then using its customers as extras for the shooting of scenes for the music videos of dancehall acts.