Monday, June 8, 2015

Mixing It Up: The 10 Best Fictional Bartenders

Over the 31 years of my so-called adult working career (and yes, I use the term working, quite loosely), I have spent about half of these employed at one bar/restaurant or another. Sometimes as a server, but just as often as a bartender. This has always been my favourite way to pay the bills, as they say. And until somebody starts paying me just to be me (or I get my book published), it'll probably stay that way. Anyhoo, after several years away from the bar biz (running an arthouse cinema for a while), I find myself back behind the bar at a new local downtown watering hole known as Bacco's. And, with my new lease on life shaking and stirring cocktails as my true calling, I thought I would bring that aspect onto everyone's favourite blog, All Things Kevyn (my true, true calling), and let ya'll in on my favourite fictional bartenders. So, without further ado, other than to quickly rattle off some runners-up (Steve Brady on Sex and the City; Sascha in Casablanca; Sam Noonan on Gunsmoke; Doug Coughlin in Cocktail; and maybe whoever the bartender was in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales), here are my choices for the best fictional bartenders.

And awaaaaay we go...

Special Mention: Joe of Sinatra's One For My Baby
Not much is known about Joe. No last name. No specific bar. We know he sets 'em up for Frank, and we know Frank bends his ear, and Joe doesn't seem to mind, even if he is getting a bit anxious to close. We also know that Joe serves him one for his baby, and one more for the road. So, I guess Joe is a pretty good bartender. I mean, Frank likes him, so what else do we need to know?

10. Georgie Santorelli of Bada Bing!
Georgie may have been a bit dim-witted, but he was loyal. Yeah, he was often an idiot, and got himself beaten with phones and cash registers and other such blunt objects at Tony Soprano's immediate disposal, but the big lunk always meant well. Plus, he was the bartender at a strip club. That's gotta count for somethin', right? Bada bing, bada boom.

9. Wuher & Ackmena of Chalmun's Spaceport Cantina
Bartender Wuher is first seen telling Luke Skywalker that his droids will not be served in his bar/cantina. He's kind of a bastard. A year and a half later, in the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, we meet Ackmena (played by the always great, Bea Arthur), who apparently is the night bartender at Mos Eisley's wretched hive of scum and villainy. In the whole scope of the Star Wars Universe, neither of these bartenders made much of an impression, but hey, at least you could get Ackmena to do a musical number or two.

8. Razor Charlie of the Titty Twister
Yeah, so he's a blood-thirsty vampire, but that doesn't make him a bad bartender. Does it? As the bartender at the Titty Twister (secretly a vampire bar, but you didn't hear that from me), Razor Charlie, played by the ever kick-ass Danny Trejo (sexiest damn Mexican, this side of um...Salma Hayek?? - who incidentally, is another vampire in the film), is in charge of getting all the non-bloodsucking patrons wasted on Tequila, before the rest of the fang gang feasts on them. Not bad work if you can get it. 

7. Lloyd of The Overlook Hotel
Sure, the hotel drives men mad, and makes them kill their families, but Lloyd the bartender is always pleasant and dapper as all get out. The consummate barkeep. He keeps the drinks flowing at the Overlook, especially when we go back in time (or hallucinate, or whatever) and find ourselves at a posh ball at said hotel. Just don't go into room 237, and everything will be fine. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and we can't have that, so fetch another round, Lloyd, and keep 'em coming.

6. Guinan of Ten Forward
Imagine yourself hurtling through space at whatever speed one hurtles through space in, while riding in a Federation Starship such as the USS Enterprise, and you suddenly get a hankerin' for some Romulan Ale or an Andorian Spiced Nog. Where do you go? Well, to the Ten Forward Lounge, of course. With a great view of space hurtling around you (seriously, Ten Forward has the best view of that aforementioned hurtling space) and drinks of all galaxies being mixed together by Guinan, aka Whoopi Goldberg, what could go wrong. Oh wait, is that a red alert? Dammit! Now my Tribble Tea will have to wait.

5. Al Swearegen of the Gem Saloon
Al's not only the barkeep at the Gem Saloon, but he's also the owner. Not exactly the most peaceful of old western towns, Deadwood is probably not the place for the casual drinker (they best go over to the Long Branch and visit Sam the Bartender over there), but boy, you are guaranteed to have an adventure. Maybe not the adventure of the Titty Twister from number 7, but at least Al won't try to feast on your blood. Well, as long as you don't piss him off.

4. Isaac Washington of The Pacific Princess

Yeah, it's a pretty big cruise ship, but Isaac may be the only bartender on the damn thing. Okay, I do remember seeing other bartenders in the background, but poor Isaac does seem to be doing most of the work. But hey, he always seems to have a smile on his face, just below that grand ole mustache. I'm sure the guy makes a great Mai-Tai too. Granted, he has to put up with Gopher all the time, but even then, he usually has that damn smile going. But seriously, if I had to choose which Love Boat character to be, it would have to be Isaac. Then I could smile and point at the camera at the beginning of every episode. I'd still have to put up with Gopher though.

3. Mac, Dennis, Charlie, & Sweet Dee of Paddy's Pub

There's no way to pick just one of the bartenders at Paddy's Pub, so why not pick 'em all? Yeah, the gang of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia may be a bunch of idiots (or are they just assholes - or maybe both), but they seem like the kinda peeps you would want pouring your drinks. And maybe the kinda peeps you would want to get drunk with, as well. In truth, I didn't like this show when it first came on the air over a decade ago (really, that long ago?), but after a few chances, these four idiots grew on me. Perhaps like a fungus, but grow they did, and now they are (apparently) my third favourite fictional bartenders. So there.

2. Moe Szyslak of Moe's Bar
As far as animated bars go, Moe's is the place to be. Don't tell Seth I said that. I'm sure his Drunken Clam is a perfectly fine watering hole. But does anyone even know the bartender's name there? Yeah. Anyhoo, if you go to Moe's, you get to be served drinks by Moe himself. Yeah, maybe that's not such a great thing, but the local colour, and Moe's surly character, should be enough to get you in the door. Seriously, he is surprisingly charming, as far as old school barkeeps go. And hey, you can get yourself a Flaming Moe, while you are there.

1. Sam Malone of Cheers
Sure, I could have gone with Woody, or even Coach, on this one, but the definitive Cheers bartender, and the definitive TV barkeep, and the definitive fictional bartender overall, is Sam "May Day" Malone. This guy is so charming, so good with the cocktails, and so fun to be around, I won't even hold the fact that he once played for the Boston Red Sux, against him. Yeah, he got himself into some female troubles now and again (and again and again and again) but that's just part of the local atmosphere. Just steer clear of that guy dressed as a mailman. Cheers!

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.


  1. Great post Kevyn! Especially love the inclusion of LLoyd and Ackmena. Great writing. Love the blog!

    1. Thanx, Scot. I always love hearing kudos. And yeah, how could I ever leave out Lloyd, or Ackmena.

  2. Sam Malone has to be #1 and that's alright by me. I had to laugh at Bea Arthur being here in that wonderful classic(blecchhh) Stars Christmas special:)

    1. Hey! I love that Holiday Special. And it's not Christmas, anyway. It's Life Day. :)

  3. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer for your site. You have some really great posts and I feel I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d absolutely love to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please send me an email if interested. Thank you! Best Soprano Ukulele