Best Literary Bartender

Alan Black at the Edinburgh Castle Pub

Whether you want to discuss the merits of various Lowland single malts, the pros and cons of the first person in contemporary fiction, or 18th-century rhetoricians, Alan Black's your man. As with all good bartenders, his mien is gruff at first; you might experience an overwhelming desire not to piss him off. But soon you'll realize that his meagerly doled-out and beautifully brogued remarks are cynical, witty, and belie a cosmopolitan left-wingedness. Stay too long and you'll feel a deep bond with the intense Glaswegian -- a bond he may or may not share. Black is also the pub's culture-wrangler, in large part responsible for hosting prose, poetry, drama, DJ, and live music nights; as such he was instrumental in bringing a little play called Trainspotting into the bar for its U.S. premiere. Try to be there the next time an Austrian is elected governor, because he'll probably Sieg Heilthe TV again.

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