A talented New York City bartender takes a job at a bar in Jamaica and falls in love.


Roger Donaldson


Heywood Gould (screenplay)
1,235 ( 243)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Cruise ... Brian Flanagan
Bryan Brown ... Doug Coughlin
Elisabeth Shue ... Jordan Mooney
Lisa Banes ... Bonnie
Laurence Luckinbill ... Mr. Mooney
Kelly Lynch ... Kerry Coughlin
Gina Gershon ... Coral
Ron Dean ... Uncle Pat
Robert Donley ... Eddie
Ellen Foley ... Eleanor
Andrea Doven Andrea Doven ... Dulcy (as Andrea Morse)
Chris Owens ... Soldier
Louis Ferreira ... Soldier (as Justin Louis)
John Graham John Graham ... Soldier
Richard Thorn Richard Thorn ... Soldier


Intent on becoming a successful businessman, and even a millionaire, the ex-military man, Brian Flanagan, waits for his big break while serving drinks at a New York City tavern, and studying for his degree. However, when the charismatic cynic and veteran bartender, Doug Coughlin, becomes the ambitious Brian's sage mentor, their chemistry, combined with the flamboyant tricks behind the bar, will soon yield fame and money until they decide to split ways. Now, as Flanagan struggles to raise money in Jamaica to open his dream bar someday, he falls hard for the striving waitress, Jordan Mooney, while a wealthy fashion executive wants to take him back to Manhattan to live with her. Is there a future between Brian and Jordan? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


When he pours, he reigns. See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Filming weeks in Jamaica shot for seven day weeks according to the 19th May 1988 edition of 'Rolling Stone' magazine. See more »


When Doug shows up in Jamaica, Brian makes them both a blender drink. He takes the pitcher from the blender and pours the first one, the camera angle changes, and both drinks are now full. See more »


[first lines]
Brian: Come on, put it to the floor! Come on! Let's go!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Some TV versions have some alternate takes of some scenes with no harsh language, such as the scene when Brian and Doug have their bar fight. See more »


Referenced in The Goldbergs: Stop Arguing & Start Thanking (2013) See more »


Hippy Hippy Shake
Written by Chan Romero
Performed by The Georgia Satellites
Published by Jonware Music Co., BMI
Courtesy of Elektra Records
See more »

User Reviews

Coughlin's Law: anything else is always something better
22 May 2016 | by PredragReviewsSee all my reviews

"Cocktail" is a film that contains a lively narrative with notable modern day thought-provoking philosophy. The story behind this film is a real hedonistic example of what most blokes would love to do. Hardly any responsibility being a bar-tender, except to those you tend - and all the while having a great time. The plot is thin which is why it is so easy to understand and this is what makes the film - the moment you have to think about a film like this, is the moment you miss the point. The soundtrack is great, and the movie soundtrack CD is missing some of the best songs from the film too, the best one when Tom and Elizabeth get frisky under the waterfall in Jamaica.

This is an 80's movie that one would certainly enjoy especially those who grew up during the said decade. Also,it was more of an entertaining movie that features bar tenders and flaring as well as 80's soundtrack that included many family songs at that time. As for the story, it was not meant for deep thinking nor for someone to introspect for everything is crystal clear in its theme about ambition,courage and love. While the plot is something that is far from being original and refreshing as it was predictable and clichéd,it will never fall short of entertainment. It also shows Tom Cruise's ability to carry a film and elevate a movie higher in terms of appeal and charisma early in his stardom. Finally,the film remains a cultural piece of the 80's and consists of elements of a guilty pleasure by today's standards.

Overall rating: 8 out of 10.

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USA | Canada

Release Date:

29 July 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Bartender See more »


Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,789,466, 31 July 1988

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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