Cocktail (1988 film)

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
Starring Tom Cruise
Bryan Brown
Elisabeth Shue
Gina Gershon
Kelly Lynch
Lisa Banes
Laurence Luckinbill
Music by Maurice Jarre
Cinematography Dean Semler
Editing by Neil Travis
Studio Silver Screen Partners III
Interscope Communications
Touchstone Pictures
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release date(s) July 29, 1988 (USA)
Running time 103 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6,000,000
Box office $171,504,781[1]

Cocktail is a romantic drama film released by Touchstone Pictures in 1988. Directed by Roger Donaldson, the film is based on the book of the same name by Heywood Gould, who also wrote the screenplay. It stars Tom Cruise as a talented and ambitious bartender who aspires to working in business and finds love with Elisabeth Shue while working at a bar in Jamaica. The original music score was composed by Maurice Jarre.



After leaving the United States Army and moving to New York City, Brian Flanagan (Cruise) gets a part-time job as a bartender at T.G.I. Friday's while studying for a business degree (which he needs to get a job in marketing). At first, Brian is a terrible bartender, revealed in a montage of his screw ups. 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". An example of his expert advice, which actually turns out to be quite poignant, is "Coughlin's Law: Drink or be gone!" Other pearls include: "Bury the dead, they stink up the joint." and "Anything else is always something better."

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, the type of establishment where yuppies spout poetry from the top of the rafters for all patrons to hear. As their popularity rises, Brian becomes the focus of attention from a sultry brunette named Coral (Gina Gershon). Quickly, they elevate their friendship into a wild sexual relationship. During a free throw shooting competition where Brian hits five free throws in a row, Doug 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. Unbeknownst to Brian, Doug lies to Coral about secrets being shared by Brian about her, and secures his bet by bedding the hot brunette. Brian is very upset and fights with Doug at work, essentially ending his informal partnership with Doug.

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 be the first to sleep with a barfly named Bonnie (Lisa Banes), a wealthy older woman. Jordan catches Brian without being seen and is devastated; she 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 payoff is too slow. They have a blowup 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 stock 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 then 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 then goes to check on Doug in his yacht, and discovers he has committed suicide by slashing his throat with a broken bottle of Rémy Martin Louis XIII Cognac / Baccarat Crystal. After the funeral, Doug's wife 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 Jordan's father'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 Jordan's father's staff, then takes the willing Jordan by the hand and heads for the door. They leave together, finally, as a couple and future mother and father. Jordan's father 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 finally achieve his lifelong goal, he opens a neighbourhood bar called "Flanagan's Cocktails & Dreams". Brian and Jordan have their wedding reception at the smoky 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.

Box office and reception

Cocktail was a financial success, earning US$78 million at the box office.[2]

Despite the film's success, the film received mostly negative reviews from critics and 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. Rotten Tomatoes gives Cocktail a 14% "rotten" rating.

Popular culture


  • 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 publications


  • There is a nightclub in Surfers Paradise, Australia named "Cocktails and Dreams" after the movie.[3]


  1. "Wild Again" – Starship (formerly 'Jefferson Starship')
  2. "Powerful Stuff" – The Fabulous Thunderbirds
  3. "Since When" – Robbie Nevil
  4. "Don't Worry, Be Happy" – Bobby McFerrin
  5. "Hippy Hippy Shake" – The Georgia Satellites
  6. "Kokomo" – The Beach Boys
  7. "Rave On!" – John Cougar Mellencamp
  8. "All Shook Up" – Ry Cooder
  9. "Oh, I Love You So" – Preston Smith
  10. "Tutti Frutti" – Little Richard

Extra tracks

  1. "Addicted to Love" – Robert Palmer
  2. "Shelter of Your Love" – Jimmy Cliff
  3. "This Magic Moment" – Leroy Gibbons
  4. "When Will I Be Loved" – The Everly Brothers (uncredited)

Chart positions

Year Chart Position
1989 Australian ARIA Albums Chart 1


External links

Preceded by
Leonard Part 6
Razzie 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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Look at other dictionaries:

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