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Cocktail (1988 film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Roger Donaldson
Produced by Ted Field
Robert W. Cort
Screenplay by Heywood Gould
Based on Cocktail by
Heywood Gould
Music by J. Peter Robinson
Cinematography Dean Semler
Edited by Neil Travis
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
  • July 29, 1988 (1988-07-29)
Running time
103 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million[1]
Box office $171,504,781[2]

Cocktail is a 1988 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Roger Donaldson and written by Heywood Gould, whose screenplay was based on his book of the same name. The film tells the story of a young New York City business student, Brian Flanagan, who takes up bartending in order to make ends meet.

The film stars Tom Cruise as Brian Flanagan, Bryan Brown as Doug Coughlin, and Elisabeth Shue as Jordan Mooney. Released by Touchstone Pictures, the film features an original music score composed by J. Peter Robinson.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Reception 3
  • Soundtrack 4
    • Chart positions 4.1
      • Weekly 4.1.1
      • Year-end 4.1.2
  • In other media 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


After leaving the United States Army and moving to New York City, Brian Flanagan (Tom Cruise) gets a part-time job as a bartender at night while studying for a business degree. Over time, he learns the tricks of the trade, including flairing, from his boss/mentor Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown). Brian and Doug soon become very close; Doug readily assumes a mentor role over the young and naive Brian, and rains advice and opinions down upon him. His advice takes a familiar structure, as he usually begins most of them with "Coughlin's Law".

While Brian has high personal aspirations, Doug is leery of the notion of starting their own bar together. Doug intends to call his bar "Cocktails & Dreams".

Eventually, Brian and Doug's bar-tending act becomes popular and they end up working at a trendy nightclub catering to New York's wealthy and elite. As their popularity rises, Brian becomes the focus of attention from a sultry brunette named Coral (Gina Gershon). Quickly, their friendship becomes sexual. Doug is alarmed that Coral is coming between their work partnership and bets him Coral will leave him by week's end, essentially doubting there is anything special about the seemingly perfect relationship shared between the two. Unknown to Brian, Doug lies to Coral about secrets being shared by Brian about her, and secures his bet having a passionate kiss with Coral while at work in the bar in front of Brian. Coral then tells Brian he should never have discussed their love life with Doug and so he is dumped. Brian is very upset and fights with Doug at work, essentially ending his informal partnership with Doug.

The film fast-forwards three years. Brian, taking advice from his former girlfriend, takes a job in Jamaica as a bartender to raise money for his own place. He finds a romantic partner in Jordan Mooney (Elisabeth Shue). Jordan is an aspiring artist and waitress in New York. She and Brian spend romantic times together, playing in the water, before making passionate love on the beach by a campfire. Prior to this, however, Doug has shown up in Jamaica, now married to Kerry (Kelly Lynch), a wealthy woman who openly flirts with other men and wears Tarzan-like bikinis.

Doug quickly asserts himself and bets Brian to show how he can 'pick up' a new customer named Bonnie (Lisa Banes), a wealthy older woman. Jordan catches Brian without being seen and devastated, takes an overnight plane back home.

With Jordan flying back to New York, Brian decides to upstage Doug and return to New York with the cougar-esque Bonnie under the auspices that he will be placed high up in her company due to their romantic attachment. Brian becomes impatient, as the pay-off is too slow. They have a blow-up during an art exhibition where Brian gets into a fight with the artist. As they cut ties, Brian, displaying wisdom one can only assume has been gleaned from his former mentor, states: "All things end badly. Otherwise they wouldn't end!"

Brian then seeks out Jordan. Much to his surprise, Brian learns that she is pregnant with his child. He embarks on a journey to win over the independent Jordan and prove to her that, despite being just a lowly bartender, he would make a worthy father.

While pursuing Jordan, Brian also learns that her family is very wealthy, and he goes to her parents' Park Avenue penthouse to speak with Jordan. Unhappy with the situation, Jordan's father, Richard (Laurence Luckinbill), attempts to buy Brian off. Brian is forced to decide between the money offered which would surely help him get his bar started versus a life with Jordan and his child; Brian refuses the money. Jordan keeps her distance, not wanting to be hurt again.

Brian meets up with Doug. Despite the outward appearance of wealth, Doug confides that his wife's money is nearly gone, lost in the commodities market. Doug is despondent, unwilling to confess to his bride the precarious position they are in; Brian is completely shocked. Later on, Kerry makes Brian take her home when Doug is too drunk to do so, and forces him to walk her to her apartment. She tells him that he is the only person Doug respects and wants to discuss with him Doug's problems. However once inside, she attempts to seduce him by kissing him but Brian refuses out of respect for his friendship with Doug. Kerry gets angry at being rejected and reveals that she cannot endure sexual monogamy for the rest of her life. Brian then leaves with Kerry calling him a coward.

Brian goes to check on Doug in his yacht, and discovers he has committed suicide by slashing his throat with a broken bottle of Remy Martin Louis XIII / Baccarat crystal glass. After the funeral, Kerry sends Brian a letter left for him by Doug, which is revealed to be Doug's suicide note in which he explains why he did what he did. Brian cries after reading the letter, realizing that Doug killed himself because he realized that his life was a sham.

Now reeling from the misfortune of the stiff-arm from Jordan and losing his best friend to suicide, he goes to Richard's home (where Jordan is staying) and begs her forgiveness. He further promises to take good care of her and their unborn child. Brian has a brief scuffle with Richard's staff, and then takes the willing Jordan by the hand and heads for the door. They leave together, finally, as a couple and future parents. Richard pledges not to lend a dime to the fledgling couple.

Using the advice of the other mentor in his life, his Uncle Pat (Ron Dean), Brian is able to finally achieve his lifelong goal; he opens a neighborhood bar called "Flanagan's Cocktails & Dreams". Brian and Jordan have their wedding reception at the new bar while Jordan is visibly pregnant. Just before the credits roll, Jordan reveals she is pregnant with twins. Brian offers free drinks to celebrate, much to his Uncle Pat's chagrin.



Cocktail was a financial success, earning $78.2 million at the box office, and $93.3 million globally to a total of $171.5 million worldwide.[2][3]

The film received negative reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 5% of 39 film critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 3.9 out of 10.[4] It won two Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay while Tom Cruise was nominated as Worst Actor and Roger Donaldson as Worst Director.[5] The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.[6]

Vincent Canby of The New York Times gave Cocktail a negative review, calling it "an upscale, utterly brainless variation on those efficient old B-movies of the 1930s and 40s about the lives, loves and skills of coal miners, sand hogs and telephone linemen, among others."[7] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times was also critical of the film, explaining that "the more you think about what really happens in Cocktail, the more you realize how empty and fabricated it really is."[8]


Cocktail (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released August 2, 1988 (US)
Genre Pop, rock
Length 35:27
Label Elektra Records
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
No. Title Music Length
1. "Wild Again"   Starship 4:43
2. "Powerful Stuff"   The Fabulous Thunderbirds 4:48
3. "Since When"   Robbie Nevil 4:02
4. "Don't Worry, Be Happy"   Bobby McFerrin 4:48
5. "Hippy Hippy Shake"   The Georgia Satellites 1:45
6. "Kokomo"   The Beach Boys 3:34
7. "Rave On!"   John Cougar Mellencamp 3:13
8. "All Shook Up"   Ry Cooder 3:29
9. "Oh, I Love You So"   Preston Smith 2:42
10. "Tutti Frutti"   Little Richard 2:23

Additional tracks featured in the film include:

Chart positions


Chart (1988–89) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[9] 1
Austrian Albums Chart[10] 3
Canadian Albums Chart[11] 1
Dutch Albums Chart[12] 22
German Albums Chart[13] 4
New Zealand Album Charts[14] 2
Swedish Albums Chart[15] 3
Swiss Album Charts[16] 3
US Billboard 200[17] 2


Chart (1989) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[18] 19
Austrian Albums Chart[19] 26
Canadian Albums Chart[20] 31
Swiss Albums Chart[21] 27

In other media

  • In The King of Queens episode titled "Pour Judgment", Doug talks about how the movie took the world by storm in 1988 and inspired him to try and bartend.
  • The Family Guy episode, "Excellence in Broadcasting", makes a reference to the negative reaction of the film.
  • In Season 4, episode 13 of How I Met Your Mother, titled “Three Days of Snow”, Ted and Barney celebrate cocktail mixture while the song "Kokomo" is played—a reference to the movie.
  • In the film Grandma's Boy, Dante makes a reference about Tom Cruise and this movie while serving shots.
  • In the novel American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, protagonist Patrick Bateman shares an elevator with Cruise and compliments his performance in the movie Bartender. Cruise corrects him by saying the movie's title is Cocktail.[22]
  • There is a nightclub in Surfers Paradise, Australia named "Cocktails and Dreams" after the movie.[23]
  • In the television show Greek Cappie lies on his resume by claiming to have previous bartending experience at "Flanagan's Cocktails and Dreams".
  • An episode of The Simpsons in the second season, titled The War of the Simpsons, showed Ned Flanders mixing cocktails in a showy manner, which was meant as tribute to Tom Cruise in Cocktail.
  • A sketch on Inside Amy Schumer sees Amy and her boyfriend trying to pick a movie to watch. She eventually insists he needs to see Cocktail, but quickly loses enthusiasm and leaves altogether.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Cocktail (1988)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  3. ^ Easton, Nina J. (January 5, 1989). "Roger Rabbit' Hops to Box-Office Top; 'Coming to America' Hits 2nd". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 26, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Cocktail".  
  5. ^ Wilson, John (August 23, 2000). "The Razzie Awards – 1988 Archive".  
  6. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing.  
  7. ^ Canby, Vincent (July 29, 1988). "Movie Review – Cocktail".  
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 29, 1988). "Cocktail :: :: Reviews".  
  9. ^ "Soundtrack - Cocktail". Australian Charts Portal. Retrieved February 16, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Soundtrack - Cocktail" (in German). Austrian Charts Portal. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 48, No. 26, October 15, 1988".  
  12. ^ "Soundtrack - Cocktail" (in Dutch). Dutch Charts Portal. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Soundtrack, Cocktail" (in German). Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Soundtrack - Cocktail". New Zealand Charts Portal. Retrieved February 16, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Soundtrack - Cocktail". Swedish Charts Portal. Retrieved February 16, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Soundtrack - Cocktail". Swiss Charts Portal. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Billboard 200 : Oct 29, 1988".  
  18. ^ "End Of Year Charts - Top 50 Albums 1989".  
  19. ^ "JAHRESHITPARADE ALBEN 1989" (in German). Austrian Charts Portal. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 51, No. 8, December 23, 1989". RPM. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  21. ^ "SCHWEIZER JAHRESHITPARADE 1989" (in German). Swiss Charts Portal. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Uncomfortable Elevator Moment".  
  23. ^ "Cocktails and Dreams Nightclub | Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast". Retrieved October 31, 2012. 

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Leonard Part 6
Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture
9th Golden Raspberry Awards
Succeeded by
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Preceded by
Summer '89 by Various artists
Australian ARIA Albums Chart number-one album
January 9 – February 12, 1989
Succeeded by
Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1
by Traveling Wilburys
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