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A tavern is, loosely, a place of business where people gather to drink alcoholic beverages and, more than likely, also be served food. The word derives from the Latin taverna whose original meaning was a shed or workshop. The distinction of a tavern from a bar or pub varies by location, in some places being identical and in others being distinguished by traditions or by legal license.

Gathering in a tavern to drink beer or other alcoholic drinks is a longstanding human tradition dating at least to Sumer (3500 BC); in Sumer the tavern keeper was traditionally a woman but in other places and times women could be completely excluded from tavern culture.