This is a weird thing that we have in the UK where pubs close (by law)
- 11:00pm Monday to Saturday
- 10:30pm Sunday and Bank Holidays
Update: from 24th November 2005, the availability of late licences has completely changed. The hours above are still the status quo if no late licence has been applied for. Extensions typically run until 12:00, (or 01:00 on Friday and Saturday). Note that just because a pub has a late licence, it doesn't mean that they use it. For more on this subject, please see my writeup on Everything2 --IvorW
Pubs traditionally ring a bell for last orders ten minutes before they close the bar (your last chance to get a drink) and again to indicate the bar has closed. Modern pubs tend to do this less and simply (and annoyingly) close the bar. Nice pubs also let you have some drinking up time, which used to be fixed at 20 minutes by law, but is now dependent on the specific license applied for by the pub.
Because of closing time, people either tend to go onto clubs (where they can still drink) or late night drinking dens. Closing time has also been blamed for a "culture of binge drinking" arising in Britain.
See also this article on Everything2.