While the world definitely needs more bartending movies in general, there are some that meet the criteria for our list of must-watch bartending movies. In this list , we’ve complied for you the 7 must-watch bartending movies.
Of those movies, we boiled it down to the best, ranging from a Best Picture winner to one featuring a young Tom Cruise. If you’re an aspiring bartender, or just a fan of bartending in general, these movies are for you.
Bartending Movie #1:Coyote Ugly (2000)
This raunchy and wild film makes for a fun ride. Violet Sanford (played by Piper Perabo) is an aspiring songwriter who stumbles upon a women-ran NYC bar. She eventually gets a bartending job there,where things take off. Next thing she knows, she’s dancing on bar tops and pouring body shots. Coyote Ugly is one of those films that women will love, yet guys will find fun as well. It talks about the journey of a bartender, and the good (as well as the craziness) that comes from it. Obviously, not every bar is like the one shown here – but that doesn’t make watching this film any less enjoyable. The movie became such a phenomenon in the bartending community that over 20 different Coyote Ugly saloons were formed after – all across the globe.
Bartending Movie #2: Cocktail (1988)
Featuring a young Tom Cruise in one of his early acting days, Cocktail features a young 20-something trying to make ends meet. Protagonist Brian Flanagan (Tom Cruise) turns to bartending and learns under Doug Coughlin (played by Bryan Brown) in hopes of becoming a thriving bartender during the 1980s. The charm, wit, and flair that Cruise brings to Brain Flanagan helps shape a character that every bartender aspires to be like. Everybody loves Flanagan – the waitresses, club owners, and especially the ladies. Critics weren’t too fond of the film, but in our opinion the chemistry between Cruise and Coughlin alone is worth a viewing.
Bartending Movie #3: The Drop (2014)
Having a more serious tone, the great James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) acts in his final film with The Drop. The movie follows an ex-boxer named Bob Saginowski (played by Tom Hardy) who decides to take on the ownership of a bar in Brooklyn. He’s sold the bar from his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini), and in doing so gets sent on a journey of crime, chaos, and debauchery. Saginowsky finds himself in the middle of a robbery gone wrong and caught up in an investigation he wants no part in. Not one to let things fall apart, Saginowsky knows he needs to make a living – and will do so at any price.
Bartending Movie #4: Casablanca (1942)
Of all the movies mentioned here, this one is by far the most iconic. It’s constantly mentioned on best movies of all-time lists, and for very good reason. Featuring the great Humphrey Bogart (many of his bartending quotes are famous, too) , Casablanca won Best Picture in 1944. The movie is centered around a nightclub owner Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) who wants to protect an old girlfriend and her husband from invading Nazis. One of the greatest bar scenes in all of film takes place at the end of this movie. Watch it because it’s a masterpiece… and because many of the scenes perfectly embodies the bar lifestyle. Plus, now you’ll get to impress all your cinephile friends. 😉
Bartending Movie #5: Trees Lounge (1996)
Written, directed, and starring Steve Buscemi, this film takes us into the possible dark sides of bars and drinking. Tommy (Steve Buscemi) plays a self-destructive alcoholic whose life revolves around the Trees Lounge, a local bar. Drunkenly trying to figure the right path to take for the crossroads in his life, this sad albeit humorous movie tells a story about a man working to fight off his inner demons.
Bartending Movie #6: Lost In Translation (2003)
Focusing more on the drinkers at a bar than the bartenders themselves, this great movie is still a must-watch for every aspiring bartender. Featuring the incredible Bill Murray along side the beautiful Scarlett Johansson, the story shows us a chance encounter between two individuals at a bar in Tokyo – and the unsuspecting relationship that slowly begins to to take shape between them. While on the surface this might not sound like the premise to an interesting movie, this film didn’t win Best Original Screenplay in 2004 for nothing.
Bartending Movie #7: Hey Bartender (2013)
Hey Bartender, a critically acclaimed documentary, is too good not to list here. The documentary gives us an inside look at the most exclusive bars in New York, and features interviews with some of the world’s most renowned bartenders – as well the “comeback of the cocktail." Specifically, the story revolves around an ex-Marine whose goal is to work at the best cocktail bar in the world. This film is the closest we’ve found to the actual daily lifestyle and activities of an everyday bartender. Test yourself to see how many cocktails you can name in this film.
In our opinion, there aren’t enough bartending movies to watch, but these films should get you started.
Do yourself a favor and spend a night or two watching one of these bartending movies. Even better, mix up a cocktail for yourself to go along with it – by this point you deserve it.
P.S: To improve your bartending skills, here are some helpful resources that nicely complement our list of the 7 must-watch bartending movies:
- 5 Classic Cocktails Every Bartender Should Know
- Bartending Terminology: The Top Lingo You Need to Know
- 97 Essential Bartending Skills
- How To Write A Compelling Bartending Resume That Gets You Hired
- BONUS: Think you got what it takes to pass our 25-question cocktail quiz? Click here to put your knowledge to the test.