Following Top Gun and The Color of Money, Cocktail continued Tom Cruise's streak of playing hot shots who master a flashy skill, usually with the help of a seasoned mentor. Having already given fighter piloting and billiards a whirl, and with stock-car racing just down the road in Days of Thunder, here Cruise juggles Scotch bottles and shot glasses like a cocky carnival act, going from klutzy novice to revered barroom poet in the space of a few short weeks. It's at this point that he faces success, temptation, moral lassitude, tragedy, and ultimate redemption. It may be an insulting formula, but damned if a lot of young people who saw Cocktail didn't want to learn how to toss bottles like Tom. It's such a resolutely structured how-to (and often how-not-to) movie that it remains one of the best-known bartending flicks, although not the most notorious (that honor goes to the stinker Coyote Ugly). Elisabeth Shue and Bryan Brown are passable, but forgettable, as, respectively, the love interest and salty veteran du jour. Although the movie always finds its way back to New York City, the mecca for bartenders both blue collar and trendy, it smartly steps away into the Caribbean for its second act, proving the theory that lush scenery makes for better escapism. Cocktail is inferior to other Cruise vehicles of this era, but that hardly matters. Dreck though it may be, it's thoroughly watchable dreck.