10 Best Bars film Locations

Although the film was called Casablanca, I doubt anybody believed for a second Rick and Ilsa’s doomed romance took place in north Africa. It played out in a glossy, black’n’white Neverland called Hollywood that was strictly off-limits to us ordinary mortals. You’d no more think of dropping in to Rick’s Bar than of trying to buy a bus ticket to the Emerald City.

Our more savvy times have seen the breakdown of that clear divide which once separated that fantasy from real life. We’re familiar with today’s stars looking less than glamorous – shopping, jogging, or kindly offering lifts to unaccompanied ladies at night on Santa Monica Boulevard.

They inhabit our world and we, in turn, feel we have a right to experience theirs.

No longer content to be passive observers, we want to sip cocktails in the drop-dead gorgeous lounge with enticing nighttime views over the city, or chug a cold beer in one of those edgily dodgy wiseguy dives.

If you’re looking to kick back and unwind in one of the intriguing hangouts you’ve seen on screen, here’s your invite. Just ten of the more interesting places to get a drink, courtesy of the best tourist guide invented... the cinema.

Top 50 Movie Locations

Boardners, Hollywood

LA Confidential

1. Boardner’s, Hollywood | LA Confidential

Where better to begin than in Hollywood itself? Not one of those here today, tattoo-parlour tomorrow paparazzi magnets lining the main drag of Hollywood Boulevard, but a welcoming, relaxed little bar down the side road of Cherokee Avenue. Boardner’s has been around for more than 80 years and carries a whole flashbackful of Tinseltown history. A gay bar in the 1930s, it also claims to be that last place Elizabeth Short, the woman murdered in the notorious Black Dahlia case, downed her last drink. Plenty of places in Hollywood boast that dubious distinction, but since Short was living on Cherokee at the time, Boardner’s has a better claim than most. The banquette-seat booths are ideal for that convivial evening with chums, or you can sit alone at the bar gazing soulfully into your drink like someone with a long, sad story to tell. I'm sure you won’t be the first. If you find the idea of its Black Dahlia cocktail a mite tasteless, you could settle for a Crooked Cop – after all, this is where Capt Smith (James Cromwell) returns the gun and badge to Bud White (Russell Crowe) in LA Confidential. | Boardner’s by La Belle, 1652 North Cherokee Avenue, Hollywood |

Twin Anchors – The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

2. The Twin Anchors, Chicago | The Dark Knight

When Det Wuertz stops off for a drink after a hard day’s grafting in Gotham City, there’s a bit of subtle foreshadowing in the background of the scene, with the image of two anchors on the bar’s window. This is Chicago’s Twin Anchors and Wuertz’s barman turns out to be a none-too-happy Two Face/Harvey Dent. Dating way back to 1932, the Twin Anchors stands in the heart of the city’s Old Town and was a favourite of Frank Sinatra whenever he was in his kind of town. While you’re enjoying a relaxing beer, take a moment to check out the scars left on the bar-top after repeated takes for the scene – what on earth was cut from the final film? | The Twin Anchors, 1665 North Sedgwick Street, Old Town, Chicago |

Inglourious Basterds Man filming location

Inglourious Basterds

3. Bistrot la renaissance, Paris | Inglourious Basterds

If you’re in Paris and you’re looking for a little neighbourhood bar that has no pretensions to having been the birthplace of Existentialism – and you don’t mind travelling a few stops on the métro – try Bistrot La Renaissance. It’s the one genuine Parisian location in Quentin Tarantino’s WWII fantasy Inglourious Basterds, which was made almost entirely in Germany. You’ll remember it as the bar in which Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent) realises that persistent young soldier Fredrick (Daniel Brühl) is a hero of the hated Third Reich. To the north of the city, in the 18th Arrondissement, it’s not a place you’re likely to stumble across by accident but the art nouveau stained glass and gleaming wood, as charming as it looks on screen, makes the journey worthwhile. | Bistrot La Renaissance, 112 Rue Championnet at Rue du Poteau, 18th Arrondissement | (metro: Jules Joffrin)

Donnie Brasco filming location

Donnie Brasco

4. Mulberry Street Bar, New York | Donnie Brasco

Gentrification, along with the relentless encroachment of Chinatown, threatens the traditional old Little Italy neighbourhood. There are plenty of Italian restaurants, but they’re now more likely to be smart eateries aimed at the tourist trade than family businesses catering to locals. The Mulberry Street Bar remains enough character to be regularly in demand by film crews. A big, lively, amiably scruffy bar, its cluttered walls proudly bear a list of it s screen credits. It’s inevitably appeared in a Godfather film (albeit Part III) and TV’s The Sopranos, but its starring role comes as the bar in which undercover agent Donnie (Johnny Depp) inveigles his way into the shady world of Lefty (Al Pacino) in Mike Newell’s excellent Donnie Brasco with a fugazzi – a fake diamond. | Mulberry Street Bar, 176 Mulberry Street, Little Italy, New York |

Good Will Hunting film location

Good Will Hunting

5. L Street Tavern, Boston | Good Will Hunting

The South Boston bar which helped launch the careers of local lads Matt Damon and Ben Affleck turns out to be a bit of a cheat – the interior was actually filmed inside a bar in Toronto (the city in which much of the film was made). But nevertheless, it’s the South Boston ambience you’re here to enjoy. Helpfully, there's a sign on the wall outside, proudly announcing the bar as a location in the Oscar-winning movie, even though the exterior has had a bit of a makeover since 1997. | L Street Tavern, 658 East Eighth Street A, Charles Baldwin Square at L Street, South Boston |

Withnail & I filming location

Withnail And I

6. The Crown, Stony Stratford | Withnail & I

Good news, bad news. If you’re in the southeast of England and you fancy a traditional pint at Withnail & I’s ‘King Henry’ pub, don’t despair. If you’re in the northwest, well, you have a long train journey. Not all the scenes set in the north were filmed in Cumbria. The ‘Penrith’ town square is the Market Square of Stony Stratford, not far from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, and The ‘King Henry’ is The Crown. On your visit to the Home Counties’ alternative ‘Penrith’, remember to take a look at Cox and Robinson, the pharmacists across from the Crown. This was the premises which briefly became the ‘Penrith Tea Rooms’. You won’t find the finest wines known to humanity here, but you may be able to pick up something for that hangover. | The Crown, 9 Market Place, Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire | (rail: Wolverton)

Heat filming location


7. The Blue Room, Burbank | HEAT

Behind the corrugated front is a stylish, funky neighbourhood bar dating back to the early Fifties. With all that blue lighting, it certainly lives up to its name. It's the bar in which Nate (Jon Voight) is drinking when he gets a phone call from McCauley (Robert de Niro) in Michael Mann’s Heat. Not only that, it’s also where Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss) puts the short-term memory loss of Leonard (Guy Pearce) to the test by serving up disgustingly contaminated beer in Christopher Nolan’s Memento. Being up in the Valley, it attracts the occasional studio exec, so don't forget to print out a new copy of that dog-eared script you’ve been working on. | The Blue Room, 916 South San Fernando Road, Burbank |

High Fidelity filming location

High Fidelity

8. The Green Mill Lounge, Chicago | HIGH FIDELITY

Chicago’s Northside isn’t what it used to be, with the empty hulks of vast movie theatres standing empty (you might recognise the ‘Texas’ picture house nearby where Mark Wahlberg discovered Optimus Prime in Transformers 4), so enjoy the Green Mill while it’s still here. Of all these bars, this is the one that most resembles a Thirties nightclub movie set – all swirls and whorls of pink plaster. A hangout of Al Capone (check out the painting of a police raid hanging behind the bar), its unmodernised interior reeks of a period when booze was excitingly illegal. It’s in this jazz club that Rob (John Cusack) reminisces about Laura (Iben Hjejle) in Stephen Frears’ adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel. | The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, 4802 North Broadway Avenue, Chicago |

American Werewolf In London filming location

An American Werewolf In London


Don’t recognise the name? You probably know the pub better as The Slaughtered Lamb, the pub on the ‘Yorkshire’ moors where two American backpackers get a cool reception from the locals in John Landis’s Eighties horror comedy. You won’t be familiar with its outside either – the film craftily hung a pub sign over a deserted cottage in Wales to provide the pub’s shabby exterior. Over the years, The Black Swan has lost its beery, pubby vibe to be transformed into a slick, classy country restaurant. No trace now of pentagrams on the wall. In fact, the wall bearing the sinister symbol was false anyway, masking the opening from the bar to the main dining room. If you squint a bit, you can make out the layout of the old pub in the bar area. I'm a tad disappointed not to find a Slaughtered Lamb Special on the menu, though. | The Black Swan, Old Lane, Martyr’s Green |

The Godfather Part II filming location

The Godfather Part II

10. Vazac’s horseshoe bar, New York | THE GODFATHER PART II

The ‘Horseshoe Bar’ is a relatively recent addition to the name, but it neatly sums up what you can expect. This East Village institution on the corner of Avenue B and Seventh Street (hence its regular nickname, the 7&B) is is a traditional local. With its large central bar, bare-brick walls, pinball machine and a great juke box, it’s not the place for chi-chi elegance and fancy cocktails but it is a natural for films and TV. Vazac’s is not really a scuzzy dive, but that’s the role it likes to play on screen in productions such as Angel Heart, Crocodile Dundee and Sidney Lumet’s The Verdict. It found immortality as the bar in which the Rosato brothers try to garotte Pentangeli in Coppola’s dark masterpiece The Godfather Part II. You’ll probably remember the ensuing shoot-out with the cops spilling onto Seventh Avenue. | Vazac’s Horseshoe Bar, 108 Avenue B at Seventh Street, East Village, New York |

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What do you rate as the best screen bar you’ve visited, and maybe we can add it to a future list?