Thu
Dec 15 2011 5:00pm

10 Great Bars in This Universe (and the Next)

Recently, we asked people through Twitter and Facebook about their favorite bars in the realms of science fiction and fantasy. Notably, while eight of the ten watering holes picked by the Tor.com reading public were fictional, two were real! So, pull up a stool, settle into a glass of Romulan Ale, down a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, and chase the whole mess down with a Butter Beer. SFF bars are open for business.

10.) The Lovecraft (Portland, Oregon)

As you might guess from its name, The Lovecraft is a horror-themed bar located in Portland, Horroregon. Dark Horse editor and Tor.com contributor Scott Allie frequents this establishment and its various geek-theme nights. This year the Lovecraft celebrated Bruce Campbell’s birthday; had numerous movie nights, cosplay competitions (including a Bond vs. Doctor Who night) and SFF-themed DJ sets. Read an account of a specifically cool night Scott Allie had earlier this year.

 

9.) The Vulgar Unicorn (Robert Aspirin, Philip Jose Farmer, A.E Van Vogt, Janet Morris et al.)

Set in the universe of Thieves’ World this bar is situated in the fantasy city of Sanctuary, a place where various gods have been ousted after a power struggle. The tales from the Vulgar Unicorn anthologies allow for a variety of fantasy stories not dissimilar to that of Bordertown. Because Robert Aspirin was at the helm here, a lot of these stories are on the lighter side. Not as welcoming as some of the bars in other fantasy worlds, but essential!

 

 

8.) Munden’s Bar (Grimjack)

In the comic universe of Grimjack, Munden’s Bar serves as a tonal counterpoint to the majority of the stories taking place in this post apocalyptic universe. Infamously, the title character John Gaunt is the proprietor of Munden’s, though Gordon Munden handles management later after Grimjack supposedly dies. Like any good SFF bar, many of the patrons appear to be passing through from other worlds. Specifically, Munden’s feature dead-ringers for Iron Man, as well as a couple named Bruce and Selina who were probably analogs for Batman and Catwoman. Even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stopped in here for pizza. Cowabunga?

 

7.) Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon (Spider Robinson stories)

This was a favorite amongst those of you who spoke up on Facebook and Twitter and was easily the most-mentioned SFF bar.

This place is super friendly. Not only does everyone know your name, but they’ll listen to your problems, too. Lots of aliens hang out here, as do time travelers, magical beings, and a host of other things you’d expect to see in a science fiction type bar. Callahan’s is governed by “Callahan’s Law” which states: “Shared pain is lessened, shared joy, increased- thus do we refute entropy.” Feeling welcome and wanting to stay is totally important to any bar. And if they use a little science fiction and magic to accomplish it, even better.

 

6.) The Mos Eisley Cantina (Star Wars)

We know die-hard Star Wars fans consider this the end-all be-all bar of science fiction and fantasy, and by all accounts, it certainly sets a particular standard. Every single time a bar with an assortment of creatures is depicted on screen in another other TV show or movie, at least half the people in the world will start humming the cantina band ditty. Supposedly a lot of rubber masks used in this sequence were reuses from other horror or SF projects, which explains the iconic devil guy smiling like a fiend in the corner. Between Butt-Face and One-Eye hassling Luke at the bar, and Han wasting Greedo like a chump in the corner, Mos Eisely is certainly cool. But we’re not exactly sure it’s safe. Also, what’s the deal with no droids? Really? Why?

 

5.) The Leaky Cauldron, The Three Broomsticks, and The Hog’s Head (Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling)

It’s a bit of a scandal that the first glimpse of the bona fide wizarding world 11-year-old Harry Potter experiences is a magical drinking establishment. The Leaky Cauldron is an old school pub insofar as it has rooms where people can crash out, which provides a place for Harry to hide out at the start of the third book. Interestingly, in the seventh book, another pub serves as an instrumental passageway for Harry Potter: The Hog’s Head. Unlike the other and more popular (read: LAME) pub, The Three Broomsticks, The Hog’s Head is dingy and gross. It’s also operated by Aberforth Dumbledore and contains a secret passageway back to the school! The message of both the Leaky Cauldron and The Hog’s Head being important doorways for Potter and his pals? Your dreams will come true if you just stop by the pub on the way home.

 

4.) The Restaurant at the End of the Universe AKA Milliways (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams)

Do you want to hang out with potentially everyone who ever has existed and ever will exist at the same time? Do you also want to have breakfast at a diner, which is open all the time, but only at the End of Time? Then Milliways is for you. As it’s name suggests, this isn’t a bar necessarily, but it does notably serve Aldebaran liqueurs and NO tea. You can only find Milliways by time travel arriving at the point when time and matter cease to exist. Because of this difficulty the motto of Milliways is “If you’ve done six impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Millways, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe!”

 

3.) The Green Dragon (The Lord of the Rings)

Forget the Prancing Pony. You’ll probably get cut in there. Sam’s beau Rosie works at The Green Dragon and it’s the place Merry and Pippin are signing about while dancing on tables in the Prancing Pony later. If Hobbits and a relaxed, good time is your thing, The Green Dragon is ideal. It seems like the kind of place only old people or drunks go for a drink, but that, in many ways is exactly what you want out of bar. Interestingly, there’s a bar in Boston called The Green Dragon, which has a long history, one that predates America. John Hancock and Paul Revere hung out there. Really.

 

2.) The Way Station (Brooklyn, NY)

In full disclosure, there’s a portrait of Stubby’s the Rocket’s steampunk counterpart, the H.M.S. Stubbington hanging on the wall of this bar. Because of that fact, and the other fact that a good portion of the Tor.com staff lives in Brooklyn, we might have a bias on this one. The Way Station sells itself as a steampunk bar, which with all the brass and red velvet is mostly true. It’s also basically a Doctor Who bar. Every Sunday, the Way Station screens some kind of Who-related thing, and while the new season was airing, it showed all the new episodes the weekend they were released. We’ve hung out during these screenings a few times, notably when “The Doctor’s Wife” premiered. Plus, there’s a perfect TARDIS replica that serves as the bathroom and it’s actually bigger on the inside.

Finally, the Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith has actually been here and signed the inside of the bathroom’s wall. Don’t believe us? Check out The Way Station’s Facebook page.

 

1.) Quark’s (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)

This is the one. A bar you’d actually want to go to if it was real. Quark’s could have easily fallen into a trap of being Star Trek’s answer to the Mos Eisely Cantina insofar as it was the place where back room deals and non-regulation stuff went down. It served those purposes too, but it was more than that. It’s the place where Miles and Julian played darts, where Worf and Jadzia got married, where Morn sort of died that one time. There’s also the holosuites, which can be seen as the 24th century version of Big Buck Hunter or a pinball machine times a million. Quark’s has it all, and the staff is amazing. Further, they’ve all been there for a while, which is truly the mark of a fine establishment. With multiple levels, muted lighting, and a seemingly endless menu, this feels like an awesome bar, and great place to hang out.


Stubby the Rocket is the voice and mascot of Tor.com. If Stubby were humanoid and a drinker, Stubby would aspire to be like Marion Ravenwood and drink y’all under the table.

51 comments
Nicole LeBoeuf-Little
3. NicoleJLeBoeuf
IanPJohnson @1: I don't think anyone came out of the Mended Drum alive to report on it.
thelionwaits
4. thelionwaits
What of the T*tty Twister from "From Dusk til Dawn"?
thelionwaits
5. wolfgangvuk
What no mention of MacAnally's from the dresden files
thelionwaits
6. Dietes
The Milk Bar from A Clockwork Orange
Stefan Raets
7. Stefan
I second the Mended Drum. Also missing: Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille (Brust) and The Empress of Mars (Baker) .
thelionwaits
8. FredG
Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille
thelionwaits
9. jtgibney
The Bar of Jehovah, from January Dancer and Up Jim River.
Iris Creemers
10. SamarDev
What about Krull's bar? It's the place to be if you're looking for pickled Seguleh. (Malazan Book of the Fallen)
thelionwaits
11. AlBrown
There are interesting bars, and then there are bars you would want to have a drink in. I hardly think I would enjoy drinking with tiny fat people who let their furry toes hang out, and definitely would not want to linger in a bar where people kill other patrons or lop their arms off with lightsabers.
Now Callahan's, there is a bar I would enjoy. Good music, lots of jokes, storytelling. Comrades one and all, sharing a respite from the world around them.
Katy Maziarz
12. ArtfulMagpie
Yes! The Mended Drum! Should be in here, for sure. I would also suggest the Eolian from Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles (and possibly also the Waystone, from same!)
Ian Johnson
13. IanPJohnson
ArtfulMagpie @12:

Oh man… I forgot all about the Eolian.

If there was ever a bar in a fantasy universe that I'd like to visit, that would be it.
Jeremy Goff
14. JeremyM
I have to agree with ArtfulMagpie. If there was a bar I would love to go to it would be the Eolian.
thelionwaits
15. jenn brissett
How about the "Worlds' End" from the Sandman series? It seems like a great place the hang out during a reality storm.
thelionwaits
16. Neon Sequitur
Does anyone remember Arthur C. Clarke's Tales from the White Hart?

Anyone at all?

Well, I feel really old, now....
thelionwaits
17. Prominent Nonentity
No love for The Floating Vagabond?

(Tales From The Floating Vagabond RPG)
thelionwaits
18. Cool Bev
I've been to the Green Dragon in Boston. I saw the sign and flipped out - the famous Green Dragon, where Sam Adams plotted revolution with Paul Revere and George Washington! So I went in and got a beer.

There was a sign on the wall explaining that this was indeed that famous pub, in continuous operation from the days of the American Revolution until the present.

Except for a short period when it was closed, between 1854 and 1997... Oh yes, and that building was tornm down, but this one is pretty close.
thelionwaits
19. Tehanu
Does anyone remember Arthur C. Clarke's Tales from the White Hart? Anyone at all? Well, I feel really old, now....
I remember! And honey, I hate to tell you: we ARE old.


The Prancing Pony in the book is a much nicer place than the one in the movie. I'd put it 1st, though I do like Quark's place.
thelionwaits
20. Jessica @ Book Sake
I would definitely go to The Green Dragon. And as I'm finally reading the Harry Potter books - I'd follow him along to any of the pubs!
- Jessica @ Book Sake
thelionwaits
21. Susan Hutchingss
There were a few bars in Robert Heinlein's stories, too. I seem to remember Pete the Cat (yes--the cat) in 'The Door Into Summer' imbibing a wee dram of gingerale at at least one, while he was wandering about with Dan.
thelionwaits
22. Mouette
I repeat the votes for The Eolian and for McAnally's. Love Callahan's, of course.


*sings cantina song*
thelionwaits
23. Rhianon
I have to put in a vote for McAnally's as well as the Eolian. If there were ever two bars that I could spend an entire day in those would be the ones!
thelionwaits
24. a1ay
Does anyone remember Arthur C. Clarke's Tales from the White Hart?

Definitely - it always struck me as the SF counterpart of the Angler's Rest from PGW's "Mr Mulliner" stories.

Or how about The Gentleman Loser? ("It's not that I'm using. It's just that my body's developed this massive drug deficiency.")
Mike Conley
25. NomadUK
Does anyone remember Arthur C. Clarke's Tales from the White Hart?

Absolutely. And I still have my copy; must be over 35 years old by now, yet it seems as though I was reading it yesterday.

Sigh.
Jack Flynn
26. JackofMidworld
The first bar that popped into my head was "Inn of the Last Home" from the original Dragonlance Chronicles (Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman). Probably stuck out because it was the one of the first books I ever read that actually had a bar in it; the image of Raistlin making his tea by the fire still comes readily to mind, even all these years later.
Joseph Kingsmill
27. JFKingsmill16
What about the P3 from Charmed? What about Buffy's The Bronze? What about 10 Forward? What about Julio's from Repairman Jack?
thelionwaits
28. Smart Alex
@26 Mmmmmm.... Otik's Spiced Potatoes!!
Kristoff Bergenholm
29. Magentawolf
Definately Strangefellows from Simon R. Green's Nightside series.
thelionwaits
30. Blend
Here in Ottawa, Ontario there's a bar called Zaphod's that's supposed to be based off of Milliway's, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Truthfully it's just a grungy punk bar that serves Pan Galactic Gargleblasters, but hey, they try!
thelionwaits
31. Dr. Thanatos
Of course, the White Hart. Thanks to those of my generation who mentioned this first.

For all you whippersnappers, that's where the editors, reporters, and writers hang out with the mad scientists and tell science stories. No vampires, wizards, or aliens allowed.

Oh look, Sheldon Cooper just came in. Let's see if Harry Purvis can tell a story he can't deconstruct...
Jenny Thrash
32. Sihaya
If you bring up Milliway's, you have to mention the Big Bang Burger Bar. It's alluring simply because we know so little about it. It was cool before anything else was, I'm sure.

Merlotte's is a good place to die, but I bet they make a kickin' dacquiri. Tiny little Louisiana bars in the middle of nowhere always make the best dacquiris.

The Palace Saloon in "Back to the Future III" looks like a pleasant enough place when Tannen's not tearing through town. I'd just stay away from the fire water.
Rob Hansen
33. RobHansen
Of course, The White Hart was based on the real-life White Horse. For more, see here:

http://www.fiawol.org.uk/fanstuff/THEN%20Archive/Horse/HorseTales.htm
thelionwaits
34. strongdreams
@27,
10-Forward wasn't a bar, it was a plot device. The Bronze was a coffee bar until the characters turned 21, when it was suddenly retconned into a nightclub. And regarding P3 and The Bronze, dark places where impossibly beautiful people meet to get loud and sweaty might be good places to get a veneral disease or immortal curse, but they aren't "bars".
Joseph Kingsmill
35. JFKingsmill16
@34 - aren't all imaginary "bars" plot devices? Also, if this list includes Milliway's as a bar then my suggestions are just as valid.
thelionwaits
36. strongdreams
For my money, 10-forward was merely a place for characters to talk that wasn't the bridge, and it was a place to stick Whoopi Goldberg, who was never given anything interesting to do* except snarl mysteriously at Q (*with the exception of her talk with Picard in Measure of a Man). It didn't have its own sense of life, place, or clientele the way The Vulgar Unicorn does, or maybe even Quark's, although I confess that is based more on the thumbnail above than my own recollection of the series.

If the questions are, 1) where would I want to go if I was an in-universe character, and 2) where would I want to go if I was visiting the universe and observe/experience the happenings, 10-forward, P3 and the Bronze would be far down both lists.

Milliways gets a special pass because 1) Douglas Adams, and 2) it's a great premise, and really would be an interesting place to hang out.
thelionwaits
37. Kid_greg
Glad to see The Vulgar Unicorn made the list. It deserved it by its name if nothing else.

Anyone mentioned The Waystone Inn from Ruthfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles?.. (However I just finished The Wise Man's Fear, and I'm not sure I'll be coming back to visit it again. )
thelionwaits
38. Bruce A.
The Old Phoenix, from Poul Anderson's A MIDSUMMER TEMPEST (1975).
thelionwaits
39. JDC
The 602 Club. Since it is both Trek canon and was, in real life, just the greatest bar.
thelionwaits
40. LJ_NZ
You may yet get to drink at the actual Green Dragon - when they rebuilt the set in Hobbiton, the pub comes complete with water pipes and plumbing - apparently"production designer Dan Hennah said the plans were actually to turn the famous Shire inn into a real, working pub."

Check out the story:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/new-zealand/6031824/Hobbitons-Green-Dragon-tipped-for-pulling-pints
thelionwaits
41. tigeraid
No Captain's Table? Lame, that was a great book series. :(
thelionwaits
42. AngelaC
Can't believe nobody mentioned the Silver Eel from the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series.
Stefan Raets
43. Stefan
@42. Good call. They'd make good drinking buddies too, I think.
Louis Richards
45. lummer5000
And there was Gavagan's Bar.(L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt)
Where else would you find flying miniature pink elephants and a were-dachshund?
thelionwaits
46. Whomever1
Just for the sake of completeness, I'll mention Fangtasia from True Blood. And it's real-life counterpart, Alex's Bar in Long Beach, Ca. Hardly any vampire in real life, but a very strange vibe, sometimes, and many of its denizens are...odd.
thelionwaits
47. DavidK
I love it: two real-life bars on the list, and P-Town's wonderful Lovecraft is one of them! Fantastic atmosphere, and more versatile than you'd imagine: from ubergeekery to goth-industrial ennui to headbanging, te place always just works. And one of the bartenders make me weak in the knees every time I see her. What's not to like...?
thelionwaits
48. AndyR
No Fritz Leiber fans here? Shame! Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser spent plenty of time in lankhmar's Silver Eel - now there's a tavern with atmosphere!

And in Leiber's SF novel The Big Time, the setting is a bar outside of time and space, simply called The Place.
thelionwaits
49. ArthurBarbour
AndyR: The Place is an R&R stop for Change War fighters (from one side only) -- much less open than a bar. And while the manager is a former publican, booze is the least part of the service; e.g., the ~back room is a serviceable surgery.
thelionwaits
50. Manuel_D
Well the Draco Tavern was really missing
thelionwaits
51. Novashannon
I think the list is close to perfect!

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