Just under a century ago (in the 1920’s and early 1930’s) the United States and certain parts of Canada were experimenting with a silly experiment known as prohibition. It came out of the idea that alcohol was the root of all problems in society. As a policy, it led to plenty of illegal activity and many dead people. For more information on stupid policies that were poorly implemented, look up the war on drugs.
Fast forward from the times of prohibition, and alcohol has been legal (but heavily regulated) for around 80 years now. Back in the 1920’s, speakeasy bars were the norm. They were nightclubs that made and sold alcohol, despite its illegal status. During this period, the bars were all very similar, and the goal was to socialize and have a drink and forget one’s problems, much like bar culture today.
One development that has changed bar culture however, is themed establishments. Where bars in the past were just places that served an array of booze, bars over the last few decades have evolved and there are themes. Some specialize in brilliant food, others brew their own beer, and some try to cater to a certain type of clientele. One of the most interesting developments has been bars that are inspired by television shows, and movies. These offer among the most unique environments for fans and drinkers alike, and are, on occasion, truly impressive places in which to party. Here are fifteen of the most impressive TV and film based bars in the world.
15. The Lockhart – Toronto, Canada
Our list starts out in Canada’s closest equivalent to New York City, Toronto. In the downtown area there is a quaint little cocktail bar with a Harry Potter theme. The bar’s theme isn’t too intense, so if one isn’t a huge fan of the books/movies, they won’t be beaten over the head with inside references. Some examples include a neon light that says “All was well” on the wall and a drink menu titled “Potions and Elixers”.
14. Jock Lindsey’s Hangar – Orlando, Florida
For those who aren’t aware or haven’t watched the series in a while, Jock Lindsey is a pilot who worked with Indiana Jones. At Disney World, one of the places in which adults can grab a drink is a bar named for him. It looks like an old hangar (as the name would imply) and has plenty of sitting room as well as aviation-related paraphernalia all over the walls.
Aside from a decent selection of beer, most of the meals and mixed drinks are inspired by characters. “Shorty’s Singapore Sling” and “Reggie’s Revenge” are two such drinks, inspired by Jones’ young sidekick and Lindsey’s pet snake respectively.
13. The Lovecraft Bar – Portland, Oregon
While H.P. Lovecraft is primarily known as a novelist, enough of his work has been adapted to film and television that this bar makes the list. On another note, of course it’s in Portland. The bar opened in 2011, and has a Gothic theme, with frequent live music shows. Food is available, but as they explain on a very frank and honest FAQ on their website, the food is sandwiches and if you’re looking for a specific meal, find a restaurant. The walls and ceilings are decorated with art the looks straight out of the Necronomicon.
12. The Way Station – New York City
Doctor Who fans are among the most loyal out there and have one heck of a theme-bar to visit when they are in Brooklyn. The bar features a TARDIS, obviously, and features decorations from years past. The bar advertises itself as a nerd-Mecca and boasts plenty of live music every week, along with Doctor Who themed drinks and an interesting Sunday afternoon schedule, when they either show episodes of the show (if it’s in season) or other iconic sci-fi. For those who don’t care for The Way Station, New York also has “Pandorica”, a Doctor Who themed restaurant.
11. Star Wars Themed Bars – Ottawa, Canada and Manchester, England
There are probably other Star Wars themed establishments elsewhere, but Manchester and Ottawa are the two awesome bars we chose. Both opened in 2015, and the one in Manchester was a pop-up based on the actual cantina from A New Hope, which was created in support of a local Star Wars convention. Ottawa’s bar, named “The Cantina”, is attached to the city’s largest board game store, called “Kessel Run Games”, where one can either purchase games, or play any of over 100 that are kept in the store.
10. Zaphod Bebblebrox – Ottawa, Canada
It may be strange to see Ottawa, Canada’s capital on here twice. Not much goes on in Canada, and most of the good stuff that does go on, occurs in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver or Calgary. Ottawa is widely thought to just be a cold place with tons of federal government employees and a useless hockey team. It is that, but nerd culture also has a few awesome sanctuaries.
Zaphod Bebblebrox is a bar that is, as the name suggests, inspired by A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The interior of the bar looks like it is from another planet, and many of their specialty drinks are wacky colors, and have names like the “Pangalactic Gargle-blaster”. They also host a steady stream of solid and varying musical acts.
9. Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den – Minneapolis, Minnesota
This is pretty self-explanatory isn’t it? This bar has been suggested to have been inspired by the parody film Shaun of the Dead, but really, anyone who enjoys the zombie sub-genre of horror can get on board with this place. The bartenders wear clothes that are stained with (what we hope is fake) blood, and the atmosphere is dark but inviting. There is of course, a chainsaw in a glass case with the advice “In case of zombie attack, break glass”.
8. Giger Bar – Switzerland
Die-hard fans of the Alien franchise have a pair of bars dedicated to those films. The name “Giger” is of course that of Swiss painter H.R. Giger, who designed the creature and much of the scenery in those movies. These establishments are in Chur and Gruyere, Switzerland and feature furniture and decorations that are reminiscent of the film series. There has been news of a similar place being built in the United States, and a prominent New York club “Limelight” had a Giger themed room back from 1998 to 2002, but it closed down. Ultimately, there is no reliable information about whether such a bar is in the works right now.
7. Korova Milk Bar – There Have Been a Few
The iconic bar from A Clockwork Orange has been the inspiration for a few venues over the years. There was a Korova Milk Bar in New York until the mid 2000’s, but it shut down. There was a similar bar in Toronto, and another, simply called “Korova” in Montreal. The New York Korova was heavily based off the actual bar in the movie while the others simply bared the name. In England, there are bars with a live music focus on Liverpool and Preston with the name Korova.
6. ABQ – London
If you’re a fan of Breaking Bad and cooking meth isn’t your thing, there is a bar in London based on the series. The bar itself is actually a re-purposed RV and while amphetamine is not the drug being served, the bartenders have scientific expertise and come equipped with a wealth of booze-related knowledge and a wide array of available cocktails. According to ABQ‘s website, there is a waiting list of over 40,000 people so now is the time to book a spot.
5. Jekyll and Hyde – Edinburgh, Scotland
The late 1800’s novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde has been made into plays, television series, and of course, film. The bar’s atmosphere is dark and creepy, in a way that will entertain fans of the story, and the drink menu has a cocktail section with drinks named for the seven deadly sins (pride, sloth and so on), the seven contrary virtues, and four drinks known as the “Four horsemen of the Apocalypse”: pestilence, death, famine and war. This gem is a regular spot-holder on lists of eeriest and best themed bars in Great Britain.
4. The Hobbit Pub – Southampton, England
This quaint little establishment truly looks like the kind of place one might find Frodo, Sam, Bilbo, and all the rest. The J.R.R. Tolkien inspired pub has Lord of the Rings inspired art on the interior and exterior, along with drinks inspired by the characters of the series. They also feature “The Fellowship Quest” which can be completed when a patron drinks one of each drink inspired by LOTR characters. They stress that this quest is not necessarily one to be attempted “all at once” because some of these shots and mixed drinks are absurdly strong. The “Smaug” for instance, involves Fireball whiskey, in addition to a house whiskey, along with an energy drink. This tiny bar was almost sued by Middle East Enterprises (which holds the trademark of “The Hobbit” name), but the bar owners received so much widespread support from…well…everyone who wasn’t associated with that corporation, that nothing ever became of it. The name, along with the assorted Tolkien-themed paraphernalia stuck.
3. Moe’s Tavern – Orlando, Florida
Of course there is a Moe’s Tavern. Moe’s may be the greatest bar in the history of animated sitcoms. Obviously “The Drunken Clam” from Family Guy is another popular cartoon watering hole, but Moe’s was the original, because as we all know “The Simpsons did it all first”. At Universal Studios, you will find Springfield, home of everyone’s favorite yellow family. Krusty Burger, the Frying Dutchman, Luigi’s Pizza and Lard Lad Donuts are just a few of the places to eat, but if beer is your thing, the Duff Brewery is an option, as is Moe’s. Duff is actually brewed locally, there is a love tester machine on site, and one of the non-alcoholic drink options is “The Flaming Moe”.
2. Cheers – Boston
MacLaren’s, from How I Met Your Mother, Paddy’s from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Pavlov’s from Two and a Half Men seem like half decent places to drown one’s sorrows and celebrate one’s victories, but Cheers was literally a show based around a bar.
There are two Boston locations for this legendary bar: Beacon Hill and Faneuil Hall. They have a decent selection of beers, along with drinks named after various characters, and a Norm Burger challenge, for those who want to eat their way to immortality.
1. Dernier Bar Avant La Fin Du Monde – Paris, France
For those who don’t speak French, this name means “The Last Bar Before the End of the World” (the ol’ Canadian education system is finally paying off). This place has a little bit of everything for anyone who just loves science fiction. If you’re into any of the bars already listed here, Dernier Bar Avant La Fin Du Monde has something for you, whether you’re a zombie fanatic, a Star Wars/Trek fanboy, you dig the superhero genre, or you just feel like seeing a bunch of Guy Fawkes masks on the wall. They cater to any kind of nerd and it really is one of those places one has to see to believe.