Food & Drink

Bill Murray's Genius Champagne Hack Will Spare You a Hangover

Bill Murray Champagne
Focus Features/Universal Studios.


That's the normal reaction to waking up after a night of drinking copious amounts of low-cost sparkling wine. It's a hangover-fueling nightmare machine that just happens to taste like the pale-gold carbonated nectar of the gods…. till it, um, doesn't. Long have I dreamed of a way to imbibe enough 'Pagne to make my membrane adequately insane without suffering the seismic aftershock of headaches, puking, and general morning-after malaise.

Then Bill Murray came into my life. Well, he's been in my life for a while (from afar), but recently I stumbled upon his patent-pending Champagne "hack" -- and trust me, I don't use the word "hack" lightly. It's simple. Effective. And it also is a great icebreaker (you'll get that joke in a minute).

Apparently, it's the only way Bill Murray drinks Champagne... aside from being blasted in the face with it after the Cubs win the World Series, but that's an isolated incident that only happens once a century. It's like he whispered the secret to drinking Champagne into my ear on a crowded Tokyo street and only I could hear his angelic voice. At any rate, the Murr-ster's Champagne-drinking method changed my holiday boozing life. And it can do the same for you.

So yeah, you have that going for you.

Enter the "Montana Cooler"

In a conversation with the aptly named Dazed Digital, Murray dropped the bomb on how he likes his Champagne. And his answer, unsurprisingly, was interesting:

"But the way I like to drink champagne is I like to make what we call a Montana Cooler, where you buy a case of champagne and you take all the bottles out, and you take all the cardboard out, and you put a garbage bag inside of it, then you put all the bottles back in and then you cover it with ice, and then you wrap it up and you close it. And that will keep it all cold for a weekend and you can drink every single bottle. And the way I like to drink it in a big pint glass with ice. I fill it with ice and I pour the champagne in it, because champagne can never be too cold. And the problem people have with champagne is they drink it and they crash with it, because the sugar content is so high and you get really dehydrated. But if you can get the ice in it, you can drink it supremely cold and at the same time you're getting the melting ice, so it's like a hydration level, and you can stay at this great level for a whole weekend. You don't want to crash. You want to keep that buzz, that bling, that smile."

So there we are. Bill Murray’s Champagne hack is simply putting ice in a pint glass. Now before you get your pitchforks and your hoses and your limited-edition copies of Ghostbusters 2 on the now-defunct HD DVD and storm Thrillist HQ demanding we stop overusing the word "hack" -- at least give this Murrified Montana Cooler a chance.

Because it does work. Spectacularly.

Testing the Montana Cooler

In order to prove the drink's effectiveness, I decided to test it out at THREE holiday parties. Two at bars, one at a private residence (yes, I was invited to all three).

The first thing you should know about drinking the Montana Cooler is that you are not Bill Murray. You can't do whatever the hell you want and just have people dismiss it as the endearing whimsy of a legendary comedian. You will get questionable looks from bartenders, co-workers, friends, enemies, servers, restroom attendants, parents, in-laws, police officers, and even highly intelligent dog breeds like Border Collies. For example, let's go over the reaction of the bartender at Thrillist's own holiday party:

Bartender: "What -- why? It's already pretty cold."
Me: "Yes, but I still want some ice in there."
Bartender: "Are you sure? The flute is pretty small."
Me: "Look man, don't make me go get my own ice."
Bartender: "OK. This is dumb though."

Expect most initial interactions to go the same way. Also, expect people to regularly approach you and ask what you're drinking. If you are a dude that is not comfortable with your own masculinity this probably is not the drink for you. It kind of looks like you are drinking ginger ale on the rocks. Then again, if you're socially awkward it's a great conversation starter. Normally people only approach me because of my stunning good looks -- this was a whole new ballgame. When attractive members of both sexes came up to me looking for a conversation we actually had something to talk about.

Everyone loves Bill Murray, and most people love more efficient ways to drink Champagne. This is a win-win. And the name alone is obviously a gold mine for polite chortles among traveling app trays. Also, it's a nice segue into mentioning that Bill Murray played Hunter S. Thompson way before that hack (hack meaning shithead in this context) Johnny Depp. That conversation-starter alone is worth it.

Why it works

Here's the thing. As dumb as it sounds (and looks), using this method drastically cuts down on the hangover pain the morning after. You know how your mom/RA/pastor always told you to alternate alcohol with cups of water when you're out drinking? This is like doing that, but with the added benefit of having both at the same time. I literally drank 10+ glasses of Champagne at one party and felt fine and totally hydrated the day after.

For the record, it's much easier to do this at house parties, as there are no bartender middlemen and ice is cheap AF (just don't be a dick, and refill the trays). And again, 10+ glasses down, proper hydration maintained, effects of the Champagne… definitely there. But the hangover was as nonexistent as people's love for Razor’s Edge, which remains one of the most criminally underrated films of the 20th century, but I digress.

By the time I hit my third holiday party in as many days -- this was one I was invited to as someone's date -- I had my system on lock. I no longer cared about the skepticism of bartenders, or the awkward appearance of jingling ice in a little Champagne flute. I bought into the system. And it was paying off dividends.

As I spoke to a world-renowned neurosurgeon sipping on a gin and tonic (with Scrooged looped on the barroom TV, no less!), I saw his eyes wander questionably to my flute. So I told him about my adopted method and waited for his final, medicinal-but-slightly-boozy judgment.

"Hm," he said, sloshing his drink around with a surgeon's precision. "You might just be the smartest person in this room."

I woke up the next morning, sans hangover, with the knowledge that I had impressed someone who literally operates on brains for a living with a stupid Champagne hack.

Mission accomplished. Thanks, Bill.

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Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Thrillist. He actually blames Gwyneth Paltrow for most of the world's problems. Follow him @wilfulton.