The moment you hear the word bar, the most obvious word that comes to mind is a barricade or barrier against something. These barriers can be made from different objects which may include reflective tape, a metal bar, a wooden log, or even a pillar. The earliest usage of the word bar had a simple arrangement similar to such descriptions. The people at that time enjoyed simplified places where they gathered to take alcoholic beverages. The demarcation between the liquor seller and the customers was made by a barrier. This could be any solid boundary, and that is how the common name bar came to be adopted.
Drinking places are known for simplicity, which usually shifts focus from the place being used for such an activity, to the liquor being taken. This is clearly seen in the usage of the word tavern in referring to the same. Looking into the roots, you will find that this word was originally borrowed from Latin. At some point, a tavern came to be used in French or was also adopted in this language with slight variation in meaning.
What is interesting about this whole scenario is that in these other languages, besides English, the dialects were different as could be expected. In fact, even the spellings varied to suit the language prompts. But they all revolved around the same meaning which is a small house, hut, or shelter. When adopted in the English language, it referred to a shelter used for taking or consuming alcohol.
Perhaps the most fitting rendering is a pub that describes an aspect of every drinking environment. Consuming alcoholic beverages comes with a restriction only for minors who are not allowed to enter such places. But for any other person of age, it is accessible freely without unnecessary conditions and limitations. Therefore, authorities would only permit such a business house to remain open legally to everyone eligible as long as they fulfill specific requirements set out.
Authorizing officials to allow it, it then qualifies to be a public place that can be accessed without problems by all clients. After issuing a permit, they could then go ahead and categorize it as a public place. The shortened version of this rendering is a pub that seems simplified, and easier to relate to. This usage was originally around the Americas and the United Kingdom, but it has now spread across many countries.
All the names discussed have a glimmer of truth in them and there is no doubt that they easily relate to the actual drinking places. But, if you have to name it as a saloon, you should have good reasons for doing that. With no speculations involved here, bars are also called saloons. The name, or rendering, has been successfully used for some time. In the actual meaning of the word when applied in this manner, it refers to where you take alcoholic beverages. It even makes the most suitable name for a pub as it can only function as a drinking place if it is available to the public.
Why are there so many names just for a simple drinking environment? In some areas, the most common term used is pub because that is what they are used to. Calling it by a different name when you are in such areas would just be another communication barrier. In the USA it is very common to hear the name saloon being used especially in the informal setup. The rendering has already gained popularity.
For marketing purposes, and to avoid confusion, even when naming these places, you look at the common usage before adopting anything. As expected, it is sought after only for recreation purposes in most cases. That explains why when coining a rendering, it is not up to you as a business owner to decide which one you take up. Your clients have the final say because in the area where you are operating, they have certain patterns of communication already set, and you cannot tamper with them.
Moving away from the hard and fast rules, you will find that a place for such recreation should be called a pub, a tavern, or even a saloon. This is because they all refer to one thing with the same primary activity of drinking alcohol.