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10 Best Movie Bars

Sit down, have a drink, beat some dude senseless. It's all good!

By Rob Vaux     November 10, 2011

 The place where everyone knows your name…  a wretched hive of scum and villainy… a spot where liquor in a mug can warm you like a hug. Whatever you want to call it, the friendly local watering hole has helped more than a few of us drink our troubles away. And why should real-life people have all the fun? Fictional characters have problems too: Nazis, galactic empires, the destruction of a perfectly good relationship at the hands of rampaging zombies, etc. Where’s the friendly barkeep with the bottle of hooch for those poor souls? Luckily, Hollywood has them covered. Her are ten great celluloid watering holes, perfect for relaxing after a long day or beating up the local ne’er do wells.

 

10. The Double Deuce (Road House)

Jasper, Missouri’s most notable dive used to have a real problem with violence. But that was before Patrick Swayze arrived, with his mysterious past, Zen philosophy and ability to yank windpipes right out of people’s throats. Nowadays, it’s a much classier joint – as classy as a place like Jasper gets anyways – and that stuffed polar bear hardly ever causes problems anymore.

Signature Drink: Beer on tap, as much as you like. The more you drink, the rowdier it gets… which could be either a good or a bad thing, depending on your point of view.

Best Feature: If you’re lucky, you can watch the bouncer disable an entire gang of thugs without once hitting back.

Worst Feature: The local asshat businessman has a knack for disrupting liquor shipments. You need to hope that Sam Elliott’s in town: his mustache exudes mystic powers that lets the booze arrive safely. 

What to Bring Inside: Your capacity for pain. Pain don’t hurt, as the bouncer says, and you’re probably gonna need it before the night is through.

What to Leave in the Car: Your good taste. It won’t be appreciated here.

 

9. The Snuggly Duckling (Tangled)

This delightful stopover in a sylvan forest contains all manner of fairy-tale diversions. Okay, there’s a chalk outline on the barroom floor and the clientele consists almost exclusively of uncouth gentlemen with bits of gore under their fingernails. But they have a softer side too, and if you give them a chance, they’ll tell you all about it. Just be ready to listen without interruption: this is a touchy crowd.

Signature Drink: Day-old grog… but cups of hot cocoa and mini-marshmallows are available on request.

Best Feature: The bard chained to the wall will play whatever you want.

Worst Feature: If the other drinkers don’t like the song, you’re guaranteed to lose a limb.

What to Bring Inside: Your dreams: the fluffier and more bunny-laden, the better.

What to Leave in the Car: Ironic snarking. Seriously, they’ll kill you.

 

8. The Winchester (Shaun of the Dead)

There’s nothing really to separate the Winchester from any other English pub. The décor is depressing but familiar, the drinks are typical yet reliable, and the clientele is set in their ways to the point where they will risk life and limb to get there for their nightly alcohol fix. That makes it a decent rallying point for the occasional emergency… such as when the dead come back to life and start feasting on the brains of the living.

Signature Drink: A pint. Doesn’t matter what’s in it.

Best Features: The tubby guy in the corner does a pretty mean orangutan imitation. Also, he knows where the exits are, which could come in handy in the event of an undead-based crisis.

Worst Features: The back door isn’t nearly as zombie-proof as it should be.

What to Bring Inside: Chainsaws, katanas, a functioning radio and anything else Max Brooks says you should. Thankfully, there’s already a functioning weapon above the bar.

What to Leave in the Car: Any lingering feelings for friends or loved ones. Because you may have to separate their flesh-eating head from their shoulders before the night is through.

 

7. The Korova Milk Bar (A Clockwork Orange)

You’re a young man, out for kicks with your mates and ready to flash that awesome new codpiece you just bought. Start the evening out right with a visit to the Korova Milk Bar. It’s quiet, the patrons mind their own business, and we’re pretty sure you can make sweet, sweet love to the furniture before heading out for a bit of the old ultraviolence.

Signature Drink: Drencrom Milk, laced with indeterminate amounts of highly illegal opiates. Unfortunately, you won’t remember drinking it, so we can’t say for sure how good it is.

Best Feature: It’s pretty serene, especially compared to the mayhem out on the streets.

Worst Feature: That fellow against the wall won’t stop staring at you. And he’s wearing false eyelashes, which is really creepy.

What to Bring Inside: An appreciation for the Ludwig Van. The shimmers will crawl up like slow malanky lizards and then back down again.

What to Leave in the Car: Any societally imposed notions of morality or ethics. They’re just not cool anymore.

 

6. The Titty Twister (From Dusk Till Dawn)

If it’s south-of-the-border action you’re looking for, check out this charming purveyor of inexpensive beverages and female companionship. The local Aztec pyramid gives you plenty of photo opportunities and the regulars can provide excellent tips on sneaking across the border. Please ignore the growing collection of semis, RVs and tractor trailers behind the main entrance, and don’t worry about the way the employees keep eyeing your jugular. It’s nothing to worry about.

Signature Drink: Tequila… we think. The glasses are so filthy we’re afraid to ask.

Best Features: The strippers are some of the hottest in the world.

Worst Feature: Said strippers have a habit of ripping your windpipe out with their teeth and reveling in the spurting geyser of gore that ensues.

What to Bring Inside:  Wooden stakes, crosses, and that bottle of holy water you’ve been keeping in the glove compartment for a special occasion.

What to Leave in the Car: Any lingering doubts about the existence of a benevolent deity. Because if there’s a hell and those sons of bitches are from it, then there has got to be a heaven. There’s got to be.

 

5. The Raven (Raiders of the Lost Ark)

Climbing mountains in a land with no oxygen sure takes it out of you. So does dodging sinister Nazi spies en route to a fabulous artifact that will melt the faces off of anyone who looks at it. When the responsibility of saving the world’s historically notable doodads gets you down, then belly on up the Raven to drown your sorrows. Sure, the owner’s a little hostile and the evening could always end with a close quarters gunfight and/or raging fire, but when you’re halfway up the Himalayas, it’s not like there’s any five-star nightclubs nearby. And the booze is potent.

Signature Drink: Shots of whiskey delivered by the tray. They’re not just drinks: they’re spectator sports!

Best Feature: The fire is awfully big and warm, which is nice on those cold Nepal nights. It does have a way of getting out of hand, however.

Worst Feature: The tendency of skeezy Peter Lorre-looking bastards to pop in unannounced and start waving hot pokers in the vicinity of your girlfriend’s face.

What to Bring Inside: Your liver. The owner can drink anyone under the table and you don’t want to lose face with the local Sherpas.

What to Leave in the Car: That five thousand dollars you owe. Otherwise, it may go up with the… well, now I’ve said too much.

 

4. The House of Blue Leaves (Kill Bill, Vol. 1)

This Tokyo hot spot is favored by local gangsters, Japanese pop bands and Charlie Brown impersonators. If you’re none of those things, you can still enjoy the expert blending of traditional Japanese architecture and 60s go-go music courtesy of the 5,6,7,8s. If you’re very lucky, you may get invited up to the beautiful Zen garden on the roof. Just be sure to take your Hanzo sword… and mind the flecks of blood on the snow.

Signature Drink: Midori sours, saki and Bloody Marys. In that order.

Best Feature: The eclectic mixture of cinematic influences. It’s almost like watching a whole lot of similar movies stuffed into a blender and mixed together to form something new.

Worst Feature: The occasional blood vendettas that interrupt the band’s awesome set.

What to Bring Inside: Spare limbs. You’re gonna need ‘em.

What to Leave in the Car: Anything that stains. Because it’s gonna get stained.

 

3. The Ink 'N' Paint Club (Who Framed Roger Rabbit)

Toontown – home to those lovable characters the Toons – can get a little overwhelming to us flesh-and-blood humans. But when you feel like a little physics-bending insanity, check out the Ink 'N' Paint Club. It cheerfully hires out-of-work movie stars and keeps the local penguin population in herring. And the gorilla at the door is really trying to put his life back together after that ugly banana incident, so he could use the tips.

Signature Drink: Scotch on the rocks… granite or pumice, it’s your choice.

Best Features: A torch singer with all the right movies and a figure straight out of a porn shoot. Sadly, she only has eyes for people who make her laugh, and unless you can smack yourself on the head with a mallet two thousand times in succession, you’re out of luck.

Worst Features: The dueling piano act. Collateral damage can run in the thousands.

What to Bring Inside:  A change of shirt. Acme’s famous disappearing ink has a way of reappearing.

What to Leave in the Car: Your surly temper. The Toons are too loony to keep a frown for long.

 

2. Rick’s Café Americain (Casablanca)

Everyone goes to Rick’s. Seriously, where the hell else would they go? They’re stuck in Casablanca, and the only other bar in town is run by a rumbling gastropod in a fez. Here, people all nations can gather under one roof: enjoying the wonderful songs, sampling the intoxicating beverages, and selling their bodies to Claude Rains in exchange for easily broken promises. But don’t despair. The owner has a soft spot for hard-luck cases and his carefully polished cynicism will come tumbling down if you can just hold on long enough for the hot Swedish girl to show up.

Signature Drink: Schnapps or grain alcohol: whatever the smugglers can sneak in.

Best Feature: Desperate refugees looking to escape the hell that their home country has become can check in the back and find a friendly roulette table that just might solve their problems.

Worst Feature: The Nazis. They always ruin everything.

What to Bring Inside:  The lyrics to “La Marseillaise.” Otherwise, you’ll be left out of the best sing-along ever.

What to Leave in the Car: Untouchable letters of transit; everyone’s looking for them and if you accidentally get shot, you at least want to spare your killers the satisfaction of finding them.

 

1. The Creature Cantina (Star Wars)

The formal name is Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina, a smoky little dive in a smoky little corner of the galaxy’s premiere wretched hive of scum and villainy. It’s a great place to avoid any Imperial entanglements… or get into a lethal fight with a wanted criminal who looks like he plucked his eyebrows with a blowtorch.  Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes provide the space age soundtrack (that will get stuck in your head for days if you let it), and the bartender doesn’t mind cleaning up the bodies you leave behind if you tip him well. What more could anyone want?

Signature Drink: Bantha-blood fizz, Sarlacc kickers and Darwian champagne if you’re, you know, a wimp.

Best Feature: Everybody minds their business, even when you slice off their buddy’s arm.

Worst Feature: The periodic insistence of senior management that certain roguish smugglers did not, in fact, shoot first.

What to Bring Inside:  Air fresheners and/or nose plugs. The funk of several dozen alien species comingling after several hours in the Tatooine sun(s) is truly staggering.

What to Leave in the Car: Your droids. They’re not welcome here… though why exactly we really can’t say.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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FerretJohn 11/10/2011 3:02:00 AM

For me I have to add the bar in Book of Eli, only because of the biblically inspirational floor show.

"Cursed be the ground, for our sake.  Both thorn and thistle it brings forth for us.  For out of the ground we come for the dust we are.  And to the dust we shall return."   Genesis 3:17, followed immediately by Austin 3:16  :)

Hobbs 11/10/2011 5:23:24 AM

Dusk till Dawn is the movie that made me fall in lust with Salma Hayek....though I hear she is a real beech in person.  Of course I'm never going to meet her so it doesn't matter to me, she is damn fine eye candy even now in her 40's.

robbo 11/10/2011 5:45:56 AM

What about PORKY'S?!?!!

monkeyfoot 11/10/2011 6:34:26 AM

This is a fun list! I like it because it is unexpected. And of course Rob writes it very well.

I like all the bars on the list but not everyone will agree. But as my favorite barroom bouncer/philosopher says, "Opinions vary."

kinetoscope 11/10/2011 7:02:15 AM

Well done, fun list.

Wiseguy 11/10/2011 7:32:46 AM

How come The Last Resort didn't make the list, I bet none of the above have a 3 breasted hooker. Well  the Creature Cantina may

Let me add that the Titty Twister should be higher, simply because they had the most mouth watering example of female perfection to EVER grace the silver screen in Salma Hayek as Satanico Pandemonium

troopershades 11/10/2011 7:57:01 AM

Even though Indy had a nod already in this list.  Club Obi Wan in Temple of Doom was pretty amazing.  

moonsunne 11/10/2011 8:01:11 AM

 The Poison Apple from Shrek. Good times.

hanso 11/10/2011 8:14:08 AM

Cue "El Bimbo" music cause it's time to dance at everyone's favorite bar, The Blue Oyster!  

millean 11/10/2011 8:54:04 AM

I can't believe that the Hog's Head Pub from the Harry Potter franchise didn't make this list!  That is such a TRAVESTY!  It played such a pivotal role in one of movie histories biggest film franchises.  The place where Dumbledore's army was formed... the secret entrance to Hogwart's... all the tasty Hogsmeade...

Sorry, I just used the above as an example of how silly some of our recommendations in the comment section can be.  :)

My favorite may be Hanso's nod to the Blue Oyster.  Reminds me of my grade school years...

 

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