Lonely Planet Writer

Fans are flocking to a Quentin Tarantino-themed speakeasy in Cincinnati on the 25th anniversary of Reservoir Dogs

Movie-themed bars have a bit of a reputation for being kitsch but a new Tarantino-themed venue is pure cool. More of a speakeasy than a traditional bar, it even has a secret door for patrons.

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When you step inside Cincinnati’s Video Archive, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled into a video rental store from the 1990’s but go through the secret door at the back and you’ll find yourself inside a swinging speakeasy. Here you can spend time with your fellow film buffs pointing out the subtle Tarantino references or catching up on some classic movies.

Expect cocktails inspired by Tarantino classics like Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight and, of course a Five Dollar Milkshake straight out of Pulp Fiction (but with more bourbon). During the summer, there is also an outdoor cinema on their patio and the menu is mainly barbeque meat.

Samuel L Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio share a drink in Django Unchained
The Tarantino bar is a secret speakeasy at the back of a video rental store. Image by The Weinstein Company

The team behind the bar is Gorilla Cinema Presents, a company that aims to bring the magic of movies to bars. They also run the nearby Overlook Lodge, a “rustic waterhole” inspired by the hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining. They also create pop-up events in the local community and ran a one-day Pop Art Con in April this year.

So what about you movie buffs that want some themed-bar action closer to home? Here are five of the most intriguing movie-themed bars to put on your list.

5 epic movie-themed bars around the world

Bar Luce, Milan

Bar Luce is a subtle movie-themed bar in Milan. Image by Attilio Maranzano
Bar Luce is a subtle movie-themed bar in Milan. Image by Attilio Maranzano

Understated, yet glossy, authentic yet stylised, this Instagram-ready bar was designed entirely by film director Wes Anderson. This bar, inside the Fondazione Prada art centre, recreates the atmosphere of traditional Milanese cafes while remaining quintessentially Anderson, complete with a pastel colour palette. There’s even a Life Aquatic pinball machine.

The Lovecraft, Portland, Oregon

Inspired by classic horror movies and the works of H.P. Lovecraft, this Portland favourite hosts everything from metal gigs, burlesque and bellydance shows, art classes and tarot readings as well as dance parties. Expect daily drink specials and vegan sandwiches.

Lebowski Bar, Iceland

The Dude was known for making White Russians.
White Russians are a speciality at Iceland’s Lebowski Bar. Image by Working Title Films

We’re not sure what the connection is between Iceland and The Big Lebowski – other than they’re both super cool – but Reykjavik is home to a bar based around the cult classic. It comes complete with a bowling alley, old-school diner, weekly movie quiz and jam-packed jukebox (just don’t play the Eagles, man). They’re also so serious about their White Russians, with 16 varieties.

The Shire, Killarney, Ireland

Yes, this is technically more literature than movies but The Shire takes plenty of design cues from the Peter Jackson movies. Popular with tourists and locals alike, it’s a welcome Middle Earth-themed break from touristy surroundings of the town and the theme even goes as far as their beer; choose from Bilbo’s Beer, Frodo’s Lager and Gandalf’s Ale.

The Cauldron, London

Harry Potter fans will have to wait for this wizarding themed bar; a Kickstarter is launching later this month with the aims of an early 2018 opening. If the plans are to be believed though, this might be the most magical one of the bunch. Watch this space.