In the ’80s movie Cocktail, Tom Cruise made a splash as a star bartender

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80s movie Cocktail, Tom Cruise made a splash as a star bartender

Note: This article may feature affiliate links to Amazon or other companies, and purchases made via these links may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. Find out more here.

The movie Cocktail: Tom Cruise passes the bar (1988)

In Top Gun he was an ace pilot, in The Color of Money, he was an expert pool player, and now, in his upcoming film Cocktail, Tom Cruise goes behind the counter to play star bartender Brian Flanagan, who works the Manhattan watering holes in spring and summer, and spends his winters in the tropics.

Tom Cruise Bryan Brown Cocktail movie


The vintage Cocktail movie trailer

Making the movie Cocktail

Excerpted from Rolling Stone – May 19, 1988

Filming seven days a week in Jamaica, Cruise found that the island “wasn’t exactly paradise.” One of his more difficult days was spent filming a love scene at a jungle waterfall with actress Elisabeth Shue.

“Those scenes are always awkward,” he says. “But it was cold, and we were in the water, and I was freezing.”

Tom Cruise in Cocktail - movie - 1988

Cruise wound up getting sick. “It’s not quite as romantic as it looks,” he says. “It was more like ‘Jesus, let’s get this shot and get out of here.’ Actually, in certain shots, you’ll see that my lips are purple and, literally, my whole body’s shaking.”

Cocktail will open this summer.

Cruise is now shooting Rainman with Dustin Hoffman, and he finally plays someone who’s not on top of the world. “He’s self-destructive, angry, resentful of the world,” Cruise says of his character.

Bryan Brown and Elisabeth Shue in Cocktail movie 1988


Cocktail: Official press release for the movie

Cruise as a bartender in Manhattan meets his match

Young, confident and ambitious, Brian Flanagan (Tom Cruise) always dreamed of a career that would bring him power, excitement and quick personal profit.

But when it becomes apparent that the top brokerage firms aren’t exactly breaking down his door with job offers, the cold reality of an empty wallet leads him to take a job as a bartender.

ALSO SEE: In 1984, everybody was gettin’ Footloose at the movies, dancing along with a young Kevin Bacon

Tom Cruise at Jamaica beach bar 1988 - Cocktail movie

Soon, with the help of seasoned pro Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown), who convinces his eager sidekick that bartending can bring more perks than brokering, Brian believes that he’s found his niche — pouring drinks and putting on a killer smile for the prettiest women on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Swept up in a seductive world of easy money and sex, Brian is initially thrilled to be a “star” on the club circuit.

When he meets and falls in love with Jordan Mooney (Elisabeth Shue) though, their spirited romance brings a new perspective to the cocksure bartender’s life.

MORE: How to make 30 classic cocktails & drinks

Tom Cruise and and Elisabeth Shue in Cocktail movie

Intrigued by the beautiful and down-to-earth artist’s independence and self-assurance, Brian realizes that in Jordan, he has found someone who can teach him some important truths about love, happiness, and, most importantly, about who Brian Flanagan really is.

ALSO SEE: Vampires punk out in tongue-in-cheek movie ‘Lost Boys’ (1987)

Tom Cruise, Bryan Brown and Elisabeth Shue star in “Cocktail.” a new drama directed by Roger (“No Way Out”) Donaldson.

A Touchstone Pictures presentation in association with Silver Screen Partners III, “Cocktail” is produced by Robert W. Cort and Ted Field from a screenplay by Heywood Gould, based on Gould’s novel of the same name.

Drawn from Gould’s own experiences as a New York bartender during the 1970s, “Cocktail” uses the driving and exciting world of the Manhattan bar scene as a backdrop for a story that addresses issues of personal responsibility and integrity, as well as the evolving pattern of social trends in America.

Cocktail movie press photo

Tom Cruise is electrifying as Brian Flanagan, a young, confident and ambitious bartender who, with the help of a seasoned pro (Bryan Brown — Gorillas In The Mist, F/X 2), becomes the toast of Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

But when he moves to Jamaica and meets an independent artist (Elisabeth Shue — Adventures In Babysitting, Hollow Man), their vivid romance brings a new perspective to the self-centered bartender’s life.

Sizzling with high-powered performances and a #1 hit soundtrack, the box office blockbuster Cocktail has it all!

SEE YOUNG TOM CRUISE: ‘The Outsiders’ classic ’80s movie: About the story & cast, plus the trailer

Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail 1988

Tom Cruise in Cocktail - Bar scene 1980s



Kokomo, from the Cocktail soundtrack

This hit song by The Beach Boys also featured Full House actor John Stamos on drums/percussion


“Hippy Hippy Shake” scene from Cocktail

Here, Tom Cruise (Brian Flanagan) and Bryan Brown (Doug Coughlin) mix drinks at the bar in a zany, super-choreographed kind of way.

ALSO SEE: Raiders of the Lost Ark movie with Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones was an instant classic (1981)

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