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.