As an Englishman, I know there’s nothing quite like a good drink down the local pub. And as the sun never sets on the British Empire, it is therefore always Happy Hour somewhere in the world. The pub (or bar, or inn) is a common occurrence in fiction, used as a handy meeting place for characters of differing backgrounds to come together naturally or through the manipulation of story arcs. They are often neutral ground, places in which to engage in shadowy agreements and covert deals, arrange romantic liaisons, or the scene of an epic bar fight that usually occurs within the first third/opening act of the story.
Here are some of my favorite fictional bars that I would patronize if only I had the chance.
The Broken/Mended Drum – Terry Pratchett’s Discworld
Location: Filigree Street, Ankh-Morpork
Originally known as The Broken Drum (old motto: “You can’t beat it”) the pub was the first known victim of insurance fraud in the city of Ankh-Morpork when it was burnt down by its owner. Rebuilt into The Mended Drum (new motto: “You can get beaten”) the pub is the premier drinking establishment in the city. It is said that eventually every hero on the Disc finds himself in The Mended Drum and bar fights are common enough that the pub employs splatters (like bouncers, but with more force).
The Drum is not known for its beer, which reputedly tastes like battery acid, but did attempt to offer forms of entertainment such as live music (or, as the clientele believed, moving targets), a Quizzing Device (co-opted by Captain Carrot of the City Watch to solve outstanding crimes), and Barbarian Invaders (which the Librarian dominated). Currently, the bar fights are elaborately choreographed affairs for the benefit of tourism and an Igor is always on hand to reattach missing limbs. Food is not served at the Drum, but on nights when he is sure the Librarian isn’t coming in, the barkeeper will put out bowls of peanuts.
The Leaky Cauldron – Harry Potter series
Location: 1 Diagon Alley, London
While many argue about which pub is the oldest in London – the White Hart on Drury Lane, the Angel on Bermondsey Wall, or the Lamb and Flag on Rose Street – they are all Muggles and therefore quite wrong. The oldest pub in London is The Leaky Cauldron located on Charing Cross Road and it was built in the early 1500s before Charing Cross Road even existed. Serving as the gateway between the Muggle world and the Wizarding World, The Leaky Cauldron is the main entrance to Diagon Alley, and by extension Knockturn Alley.
The Leaky Cauldron is both pub and hotel; the bar serves alcoholic refreshment for the Wizard in need of a pick-me-up and boasts a large luncheon menu which is mostly soup. Rooms are available for rent upstairs and it is the kind of pub that lets underage Wizards stay for several weeks on their own after escaping their Muggle relatives. Tom the barman was the principle owner in the late nineties but The Leaky Cauldron was eventually taken over by Hannah Abbot and her husband, Hogwarts Herbology teacher and all round badass Neville Longbottom.
Josie’s Bar – Daredevil
Location: Hell’s Kitchen, New York
A dive bar located in Hell’s Kitchen, Josie’s Bar is the favorite haunt of Matt Murdock and Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, Avocados at Law. New York city officials have tried to close the bar down on at least six occasions, but Nelson and Murdock managed to help Josie out so they get to drink for free. Or, at least, have the freedom to run a huge tab. The clientele are a rough bunch but were considered to be good people in general by Nelson and Murdock, and they had even helped some of the patrons with their legal troubles. As a result the pair are comfortable in the bar.
Josie’s has no air conditioning, and since the pipes have issues with rust and mold you shouldn’t drink the water. But the beer is plentiful (occasionally flavored with lime to mask the taste) and there’s a bottle of something with possibly an eel at the bottom which, in fairness, would make me want to drink it just to find out what it is. There’s a pool table in the back but watch out for the guy who says he’s blind. He sure plays a mean game.
Moe’s Tavern – The Simpsons
Location: Springfield, Whatever State the Simpsons Live In
Moe’s Tavern is apparently the only bar in Springfield. Run by the unlovable Moe Szyslak it is home away from home for the drunkards of the town. Over the years, Moe’s has constantly sought to reinvent itself and try to move away from its reputation as a dingy bar and in an effort for Moe to make more money at the expense of his regular customers. These have included Mo’s (gay bar), Flaming Moe’s (trendy bar), Uncle Moe’s Family Feed-Bag (family restaurant), the Nag and Weasel (British theme pub), M (postmodern reinvention), and Moe’s Pet Shop (front during prohibition).
The main beer of choice is Duff Beer, although variations are available such as Dϋff (apparently Swedish, made up by Moe) Malaysian Duff (made from soy sauce), and Duffenbraus. Other drinks include Red Tick Beer, the famous Flaming Homer Moe, and the Forget-Me-Shot. Wine and liquor is not generally served, and the spirit bottles behind the bar are apparently painted onto the wall. Moe generally refrains from having games in the bar since “people drink less when they’re having fun” but does have a pool table and a Love Tester machine that was once possessed by the ghost of Abraham J Simpson.
Mos Eisley Cantina – Star Wars
Location: Mos Eisley, Tatooine
The Mos Eisley Cantina is located in the settlement of Mos Eisley on the backwater planet of Tatooine. Run by the gruff Human Wuhur, the Cantina has a no droids policy. It is popular with the fringe crowd, and common patrons include smugglers, pilots, criminals, and all manner of alien species. The Cantina can comfortably house around a hundred occupants at a time and outbreaks of violence are common enough that Wuhur pleads with anyone getting into a fight to not use blasters.
Twelve beverages are on tap with the standard serving size being sixteen ounces. Drinks include Blue Milk, Tatooine Sunset, Jawa Juice, Yatooni Boska, Tatooni Junko, and Hutt’s Delight. Live music in the form of the Bith band Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes is a regular occurrence, who enjoyed entertaining the crowds with their (seemingly) one song, “Mad About Me.” Located in a settlement that is best described as a “hive of scum and villainy,” it should be no surprise that the Cantina is often the site of trouble included literal disarmaments and dead Rodian bounty hunters.
The Prancing Pony – The Lord of the Rings
Location: Bree, Middle-Earth
Located in the village of Bree on the crossroads of the major roads known as the Great East Road and the Greenway, the Prancing Pony is a well-traveled inn. Run by Barliman Butterbur, the inn is so used to Hobbit travelers that it has built several rooms in the north wing to Hobbit size for their use. Men, Hobbits, and Dwarves mingled freely in the the large common room that is warmed by a log fire.
Beer is served in The Prancing Pony in sizes comfortable for both Hobbits and Men. The four Hobbits traveling from the Shire were apparently unaware of the existence of a pint, and were greatly excited by the prospect of drinking one. Despite the convivial atmosphere, the Hobbits stay was ruined by several Nazgûl who attempted to murder them in their sleep to get their hands on some jewelry.
Quark’s Bar, Grill, Gaming House and Holosuite Arcade – Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Location: Promenade, Deep Space Nine
Quark’s is Deep Space Nine‘s social hub, conveniently located on the Promenade for easy accessibility by station crew, residents, and transient visitors. The replicators can produce a wide range of food and drink, although Quark does keep a large stock of actual alcohol from different cultures behind the bar at all times. Quark’s is open throughout the day, catering to both lunchtime and evening trade with equal consideration. Gold-pressed latinum is the currency of choice in Quark’s, and on a good day the noise level can reach 65 decibels – 85 if Klingons are in the bar.
Quark’s features a multitude of entertainment options for its patrons. Gambling is common with gaming tables located on the first floor, the most prominent of which is the dabo wheel. Games of tongo are not uncommon, especially after hours, and a dartboard was installed at the request of Miles O’Brien. Live sporting matches can be watched on a viewscreen, and Quark constantly runs betting pools on sports events and may even have run illegal Cardassian vole fights. Holosuites are available for rent, with the original intention being that they would be used to run programs of a more adult nature. Frequently, however, they are used to indulge the crew’s love of historical battle recreations (the Battle of Britain, the Battle of the Alamo, and the Battle of Thermopylae), recreational activities like kayaking and holonovels, and even a recreation of a 1960s Las Vegas lounge complete with lounge singer Vic Fontaine (which means they went to an actual bar to visit a holographic recreation of another bar).
Swerve’s – Transformers, More Than Meets The Eye
Location: Lost Light, Deep Space
Swerve’s (No guns, no swords, no briefcases) is the recreational center aboard the Lost Light, a Cybertronian ship on a quest to find the possibly mythical Knights of Cybertron. Originally the ship’s canteen, it was discovered by Swerve shortly after take-off while the ship was in lockdown due to a sparkeater on the loose. Opening it as a bar, he conveniently failed to inform both the captain, Rodimus, and the first officer, Ultra Magnus (the Duly Appointed Enforcer of the Tyrest Accord) of the bar although he assured his patrons it would be fine. And it was. Until Ultra Magnus arrested him. The bar was eventually allowed to reopen.
Swerve’s has a security system designed and installed by Brainstorm that consists of a massive amount of concealed guns behind the bar. He also carried a personal weapon known as My First BlasterTM (Hooray! You scored a direct hit!) Regular movie nights of Earth culture were provided by entertainments officer Bluestreak, and among the many drinks on offer were Engex, Nightmare Fuel, Berzerker Buttons, and Mood Whiplash. Swerve was known to water down his drinks which actually saved the crew from a mass poisoning.
Verdant – Arrow
Location: The Glades, Starling City
After five years in hell, Oliver Queen returned to Starling City with one goal – to open a trendy nightspot in the Glades. Or so everyone thought. Verdant was the cover for Oliver’s base of operations, the Arrowcave, which was located in the basement. Originally owned by Oliver and managed for a time by Tommy Merlyn, ownership of the club passed to Thea Queen who had no idea that her brother was vigilanting out of her basement at night.
As a nightclub, it employed a number of DJs over the years, including Steve Aoki who DJed the Grand Opening night. Alcohol was, unsurprisingly, the drink of choice although they did serve terrible coffee. Oliver noted that no one should expect a decent cup of coffee in a nightclub and got what they deserved. Verdant maintained a solid customer base despite being embroiled in a drug scandal involving Vertigo, almost being burned to the ground by arsonist Garfield Lynns, and hiring at least one terrible DJ with his replacement being a member of the League of Assassins. The club was closed down after it was revealed that the Arrow was living underneath it.
The Winchester – Shaun of the Dead
Location: Crouch End, London
The Winchester – the perfect combination of impenetrable fortress and romantic nightspot. John the barman keeps a Winchester rifle (hence the name of the pub) over the bar and lengthy debates about whether or not it is in working order are commonplace. At least between Shaun and Ed. Big Al says it works and that John is connected to the North London Mafia, but he also reckons that dogs can’t look up.
Basic pub servings are on offer – nice cold pints and flaming sambucas and the obligatory packs of pork scratchings. For entertainment the Winchester includes a pool table (with seemingly unbreakable cues), a dartboard (with sharp-tipped darts), and a jukebox that suspiciously plays appropriate music even though it’s on random. Oh, and the gun works. How’s that for a slice of fried gold?