Pop Culture

How to Bartend Like Bill Murray

September 19, 2016

This past weekend, I suffered a bout of exhaustion scrolling through my Twitter feed, awash with posts about Bill Murray being in Brooklyn, New York. Did you hear? He was in the neighborhood of Greenpoint bartending at the opening of his son Homer Murray’s bar-bistro, 21 Greenpoint. A father supporting his son—heartwarming! And so began a steady stream of posts from Bill Murray obsessives saying they spotted his toenail or kneecap in the wild world of Greenpoint.

A photo posted by 21 Greenpoint (@21greenpoint) on

Though I knew this was long coming thanks to breathless press coverage in the run-up to the event, I didn't go. Instead, I spent the weekend locked in my apartment, as I tend to get hives in crowds, and I knew there would be many clamoring for a glimpse of his rumpled face. Here was the line:

Anyway, we didn't need to go! Because an alarmingly large number of other publications covered Murray’s flirtation with bartending with the same dogged rigor with which I imagine outlets once covered Nixon’s 1972 China visit. Here is what we know:

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He was set to begin his shift at 7 P.M. on Friday. That said, tardy Mr. Murray rolled around a whopping fifty one minutes late, harried by traffic along a Bronx highway, he was forced to cohabitate an Uber with a kind stranger. (The Times puts it at 8:15. Where is the truth, as they say?) Donning, according to the New York Post, "a striped button-down over a t-shirt for the gig," he assumed his position behind the bar and began tending to the crowd’s needs. Sort of.

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Top Comment:
“With the lost 51 minutes "in traffic"--and as you say, some estimates place it at one hour +--I really start to wonder. Something doesn't add up. We need a fuller accounting than we're getting.”
— a R.

Speaking to Foster Kamer for The New York Times, Homer outlined his father's delicate bartending philosophy thusly: “He just kind of pours Slovenia Vodka into people’s glasses when they look thirsty. He’s about efficiency. Turn-and-burn.”

Sources say in spite of the bar's complicated cocktail menu, Murray was only able to serve shots of whiskey and tequila, occasionally stretching for a vodka-soda. Bummer!

Murray seemed good-natured about his lack of prowess. He soldiered on, asking other bartenders to make bellinis that patrons asked for, singing along to the 70s classic rock that blared in the restaurant. Deep into the night, Jackson Connor of First We Feast found Bill Murray "in the back of the restaurant, giving a stranger a shoulder massage by the bathrooms." A kind gesture!

Want to do it at home? Pour whiskey, vodka, or tequila into a glass with a scoop of ice. Congrats! You're as good as Bill Murray is.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Rebecca S. September 21, 2016
This made me so happy. Thanks Mayukh.
a R. September 19, 2016
What the American people want/deserve to know is this: WHY NO LIME WEDGES? Did the cocktails really need to be that simple? With the lost 51 minutes "in traffic"--and as you say, some estimates place it at one hour +--I really start to wonder. Something doesn't add up. We need a fuller accounting than we're getting.
Kenzi W. September 20, 2016
PHIL September 19, 2016
I see him all the time in the bars of Piermont NY
laurenlocally September 19, 2016
I am glad we covered this, THIS way! Not the way so many others did. I couldn't figure out why he took over my feed.