In an ideal world, we’d all have a standby local bar staffed by an amiable barkeep. He or she would pour a perfect pint, mix a passable martini—we aren’t asking for everything—be decently versed in any topic of the day, and have a little advice for all of life’s hiccups. The location would combine solid drinks and good food, balance comfort with a little danger, and keep conversation flowing. The place, ultimately, would function as a great amalgam of the best fictional bars in history.
Through the annals of film, literature, and television, bars and taverns play a critical role, serving as a de facto meeting point in a sitcom, for example, or a place for a down-on-his-luck protagonist to drown his sorrows. These watering holes drive stories, and they’re often where you’ll find legendary characters that represent the many facets of the trade—serving quickly and efficiently, keeping patrons in line, controlling the crowd, weaving yarns, and sometimes being dead sexy.
Here, we celebrate the bartenders that we wish we could visit for a tipple in the real world. From barmaids in British soap operas to cocktail pros in classic films, raise a glass to the finest barkeeps who don’t actually exist.