McAnally is a tall, gangly man with a shaved head and of indeterminate age, any age between thirty five and fifty. He is a man of few words and few overt expressions, but when he says or emotes something, it is generally noteworthy. When he works, he wears black pants, a white shirt, and a white apron that is always spotless. He seems to be generally very wise and imperturbable. He makes the best ale in Chicago, and gets irritated if one wants it served cold, as that would ruin its flavor. After he brought out his private stash, Dresden called Mac a "master beeromancer".
He makes lemonade ice-cubes to go with his lemonade, so that it doesn't get watered down. He specializes in steak and steak sandwiches.
He is something of an unsolved mystery throughout the series. By all appearances, he's nothing but human, yet he knows an enormous amount about the supernatural community, has managed to designate his bar as neutral territory under the Unseelie Accords, and he seems to be on first-name basis with both of the Faerie Ladies and Fix, as well as with Anastasia Luccio and Donald Morgan.
He opened the tavern a few years before Harry Dresden moved to Chicago. He knows something about weapons and always moves like someone that can handle himself. Because he isn't exactly a chatterbox, Dresden doesn't have the faintest idea of why or where Mac had learned the business of violence.
Furthermore, in Cold Days, the Outsider He Who Walks Before knew who Mac was, calling him "Watcher". In Skin Game, Mab shows Mac much more respect than she shows Nicodemus Archleone. Even further, in Battle Ground, Harry Dresden confirms that Mac has access to intellectus, given his ability to know exactly when Dresden had released his Sight. The only other entity to have exhibited such power was a Guardian Angel in Between, and the name "Watcher" has angelic connotations.[Footnote 1]
In the series
In Storm Front, MacAnally informs Dresden that he has never seen anything like ThreeEye. He tells Dresden that he was followed into the bar by Susan Rodriguez before going about preparing meals. Being wise, he refuses to take sides when Dresden asks for help with Susan's questioning and then calls Dresden "dumb" after listening to him "complain" about her. He gives Dresden a doggy-bag for Mister on the way out.
Mac lends Dresden his car before warning him with a look when Donald Morgan enters the bar behind him. After Dresden knocks Morgan out, Mac walks over and confirms that he is still alive before warning him that the "council will be pissed" and offering him luck in his upcoming battle with Victor Sells.
In Death Masks, when Harry Dresden entered the bar, McAnally caught his eye then nodded to a sign on the wall that said: "ACCORDED NEUTRAL TERRITORY", before pulling a shotgun out from under the bar and asking, "Got it?", to which, Dresden answers: "No problem". This was just before the meeting of the seconds with the emissary to establish weapons for the duel between Harry Dresden and Paolo Ortega.
In Dead Beat, McAnally helps Harry Dresden clear the bar of patrons, sending them out to get behind a threshold before the Darkhallow. He appears disturbed when Dresden mentions that Necromancy is afoot and is clearly familiar with both Heinrich Kemmler and Donald Morgan.
In Proven Guilty, Mac gives Harry Dresden an unamused look at the suggestion of serving a cold beer and then prepares a private table for Dresden, Fix and Lily. He bows his head to Lily when she enters, calling her by her first name. He brings them lemonades with lemonade ice cubes throughout their meeting and once it is done, replaces Dresden's with beer, drawing the comment "Mac can sometimes be downright angelic". When Dresden remarks on the changes that Fix and Lily have gone through, Mac replies with "They grew up".
In White Night, McAnally takes Harry Dresden's keys from him after he indicates that he intends to drink a lot. Dresden asks Mac to sit with him when he notices that the pub is empty. Mac 'explains', in his trademark very few words, that the place has emptied because Dresden is now a Warden. When Dresden pushes him for any information he might have on the victims, he refers to the "Accorded Neutral Ground" sign before asking Dresden if he is the killer. He then gives Dresden "a start" in the case by writing down some information on a piece of paper.
In Heorot, McAnally introduces Roger Braddock to Harry Dresden because Braddock's wife had disappeared. MacAnally toasts Dresden and Ms. Gard on the successful completion of the mission when she is returned to her husband.
In Small Favor, Mac provides Karrin Murphy with a beer courtesy of Harry Dresden, who is late for their meeting. When he eventually shows up, Dresden hurriedly orders two more beers, which according to Murphy, saves his life. Mac stares in shock at Murphy when she challenges "Tiny" Gruff who shows up to confront Dresden. Following the encounter, Mac grabs three black bottles from beneath the bar and joins them for a drink. He salutes Murphy, finishing his drink in one pull and announcing "Bravely done," before leaving them with the bottled ambrosia.
In Changes, McAnally is the first person Harry Dresden talks to about his daughter. Mac listens intently as Dresden tells him about Susan Rodriguez, about being an orphan and that he will not let that happen to his child. Mac then responds with some profound, and somewhat prophetic, wise words.
In Cold Days, McAnally is conversing with Donnar Vadderung when Harry Dresden arrives at the bar. He briefly laughs at one of Vadderung’s jokes and when Dresden asks for a beer, silently comments on the earliness of the hour before obliging the wizard and preparing some steak sandwiches.
While Dresden and Thomas Raith are eating, McAnally notices a strange fog outside the pub. Once Dresden and Raith notice it, McAnally draws a specialised shotgun. When the Outsider, Sharkface demands that Dresden be sent out, Dresden offers to take it outside under the Unseelie Accords. In answer, McAnally growls, loads his shotgun and draws a second firearm. Once the attacker enters, Mac joins the fight, firing multiple shots into the creature. Dresden attempts to antagonize it during a conversation, but McAnally speaks up, saying "Harry. Don’t Chat. Kill it.". This comment enrages Sharkface, who recognizes Mac, calls him watcher and says he has no place in this. It then says "…this gesture…is every bit as empty as you. You chose your road long ago. Have the grace to lie down and die beside it." McAnally tells Dresden that the creature is only the first before succumbing to its psychic assault of despair until Dresden defeats it. Dresden presses McAnally for what he knows about this Outsider but Mac only claims that he is “out”. Just before Dresden leaves, Mac shows Dresden three beer bottles in a straight line, their sides touching. Dresden takes this to mean that there are three Outsiders like Sharkface.
Later, Mac, along with Waldo Butters, Andi Macklin, and Justine is kidnapped by the Redcap. Unlike the others who have marks on their wrists from being bound, Mac appears either to have not been tied up or to have healed so quickly that no marks are left on his wrists. Dresden pulls him aside and tells him that he knows the beer-craftsman is hiding something. He noticed that the Outsider knew Mac and asks him to reveal who he really is. Mac refuses and as they head out to Demonreach Dresden instructs him to stay where Dresden can keep a track of him until things are resolved.
Mac more or less supports the group throughout the assault, assisting Carpenter as she used the Water Beetle as a ram, and helping her to shore when they realize the Outsider attack is a distraction. He also joins Dresden on the hilltop and fireman-carries the injured wizard into the cottage. After Murphy and others are captured by Maeve, Mac and Dresden surrender themselves. Maeve identifies Mac as “the bartender”, commenting that his presence is ironic before shooting him in the stomach. By the time sunrise comes, Mac’s wound is gone. When Dresden asks Murphy what the deal is, she explains that Mab turned up, ripped off Mac's bandage, stuck her fingers into the wound and pulled out the bullet, dropping it on his chest. The wound started closing as soon as she was done. Murphy notices that the quick healing is different to when he was beaten up at the bar and Dresden ponders that maybe it is because he was conscious then. Apparently Murphy asked McAnally what he was before he passed out and he replied "I’m out."
In Skin Game, McAnally closes his pub for a private meeting between Dresden and Kringle. Mab greets him respectfully, wishing his patrons be "prosperous and honest." Mac bows to her and wishes that her "scales always return to balance," prompting her to call him a "flatterer". Mac brings Dresden and Kringle some beers and fixes Dresden a sandwich.
In Battle Ground, Dresden seeks McAnally's help against Ethniu. Tired of McAnally's hedging, reluctance, and secrecy, Dresden decides to simply open his Sight and figure out what McAnally is once and for all. Before he can, McAnally slaps his hand over Dresden's eyes, saying to Dresden that he'd "hurt [himself]". Even so, McAnally agrees to take the placard from Dresden (the same placard with "Here is the King of the Jews" inscribed on it, used in the crucifixion and taken from Hades' Vault). This placard makes it so that the entirety of McAnally's shop and everyone within is protected so long as the rightful owner — himself — remains alive, so anyone seeking to attack his pub would have to kill him first.
Word of Jim
In a talk at the Trails West Library, Independence, MO, Jim stated about Mac, "I've already told you who he is, but you'd have to be pretty nerdy..." He went on to say that if someone DID figure it out and asked him about the correct name, he'd say no.(reference needed)
- Death Masks, ch. 17
- Storm Front, ch. 5
- Dead Beat, ch. 30
- Proven Guilty, ch. 19
- Small Favor, ch. 17
- Cold Days, ch. 22
- Skin Game, ch. 44
- Battle Ground, ch. 3
- Ghost Story, ch. 2
- Storm Front, ch. 24
- Storm Front, ch. 23
- Fool Moon, ch. 1
- Proven Guilty, ch. 20
- White Night, ch. 4
- Small Favor, ch. 15
- Small Favor, ch. 16
- "Last Call"
- Changes, ch. 1
- Cold Days, ch. 21
- Cold Days, ch. 35
- Cold Days, ch. 37
- Cold Days, ch. 39
- Cold Days, ch. 45
- Cold Days, ch. 50
- Cold Days, ch. 51
- Cold Days, ch. 53