There’s an old saying that goes, “Sometimes you meet someone that makes your life better — these people are called bartenders.” In films and on television, these characters have served to offer advice, friendship, or just a simple place to go and relax, usually as supporting players to the main characters (though there are exceptions to that rule). From the mountains of Nepal, to a luxury cruise ship, and even an abandoned resort hotel in Colorado, some of pop culture’s most beloved characters have stood behind a bar serving drinks. In honor of National Beer Day, here’s a look at our favorites.
12. Gary – The Big Lebowski
You don’t see much of Gary (Peter Siragusa) throughout The Big Lebowski, but he’s always there to keep the beers cold and The Dude’s (Jeff Bridges) glass filled with White Russians. There’s something to be said for a bartender who doesn’t hog the spotlight, though he makes it in at the buzzer thanks to his note-perfect response of “That’s right, Dude,” which was exactly what The Dude (Jeff Bridges) needed from him.
11. The Gang – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
10. Eddie – Barfly
9. Holling – Northern Exposure
8. Lloyd – The Shining
“The best goddamn bartender from Timbuktu to Portland, Maine… or Portland, Oregon, for that matter,” says Jack (Jack Nicholson), heaping praise onto Lloyd (Joe Turkel), the imaginary (?) bartender serving him rounds of Jack Daniel’s on the rocks in The Shining. Regardless, Lloyd serves as a perfect example of someone at the top of their bartending game: He’s well-dressed, polite, and he knows his customer by name, and more importantly, by what they drink. He might have even ranked higher had he been, you know, real.
7. Guinan – Star Trek: The Next Generation
6. Al Swearengen – Deadwood
A fictional bartender based on a real person, Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) was the tough-talking, tougher-acting, owner of The Gem Saloon in HBO’s Deadwood. Swearengen used his bar as a base for all the nefarious operations and shrewd business deals that helped him amass power and political influence. Despite all his despicable behavior, there was something truly charismatic about the man, and as long as your transaction with him didn’t last longer than a simple shot of whiskey, he might very well come off as downright charming.
5. Isaac – The Love Boat
4. LaDonna – Treme
3. Sam Malone – Cheers
As a relief pitcher for the Red Sox, Sam Malone (Ted Danson) may have been a footnote in baseball history. But as the owner/bartender of Cheers, he was nothing short of a hero. With his suave demeanor, instant rapport with his customers, and reputation as a ladies’ man, Sam simply embodied everything cool about being a bartender.
2. Marion Ravenwood – Raiders of the Lost Ark
1. Moe – The Simpsons
As a bartender, Moe is always pretty lenient about letting his customers run a tab — even Barney, who drinks so much that he’d later need NASA to help calculate the total. At the end of the day, Moe loves his dank little bar full of lowlifes, even though he’d be the last person to admit it.