Food & Drink

How to Tend Bar at a Party Like Bill Murray

Bill Murray
Gabi Porter

As you may have gleaned from collective internet freakout about it, Bill Murray tended bar in Brooklyn recently, going behind the stick on a Friday and Saturday night at his son Homer Murray’s new bar and restaurant, 21 Greenpoint.

We went because of ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND OF COURSE WE WENT. And what we found was a genius at work. Not a mixological master. Not a palate on a stick. But a man who understands a far more arcane art: How to get the party started and keep it going.

Despite hoards of people crowding the sidewalk for a glimpse of their favorite Ghostbuster, along with crowds of people inside snapping selfies and hollering drink orders, Murray personified the kind of host we all strive to be—a perfect combination of zen and fun. Here, a few tips on how to tend bar for your friends like Bill Murray tends bar for his friends. Which is to say, everyone in the whole wide world.

Make a great playlist. Behind the bar, Murray danced the night away while singing along to songs like “Dance to the Music” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” and leading the crowd in a rolicking, swaying rendition of “My Girl.” The playlist (designed by 21 Greenpoint General Manager Nate Boley) kept both Murray and the crowd happy, even as they waited five-deep for a cocktail, proving how powerful a well-designed soundtrack can be. So skip the randomized Spotify and take the time to curate a personal playlist before your next party. Or do as Murray did and get a musically inclined friend to do it for you.  

Keep it simple. While 21 Greenpoint’s bar director, Sean Patrick McClure, was slinging complicated cocktails all night, from original Singapore Slings to smoky-spicy Oaxacan Old-Fashioneds, Murray did as hosts who are not professional bartenders should: He poured shots of whiskey (for relaxing times) and tequila along with glasses of wine.

Enjoy yourself (but not too much). Though he was working, it was clear Murray was enjoying his time behind the bar. Every so often he would indulge a guest by taking a shot with them, or share a slug of whiskey with another bartender. But he was clearly pacing himself, which meant he was still standing by the time we called it a night.  

Stay zen. The crowd was rowdy, the cameras were flashing. At one point people were sitting on the bar. Murray remained unflappable. He didn’t panic. He didn’t worry about pleasing everyone at once. He stayed calm and got the job done. His chill vibes became the party’s lodestar.

Eat. Just because you’re serving guests doesn’t mean you don’t have time to serve yourself. It’s your party too, remember. Throughout the night, Murray snagged nibbles like beef tendon chicharrones and wood-fired pizza, made by the restaurant’s chef, Sean Telo. A little food will help you have a better time and recharge you so you can keep right on bartending, as Murray did, long after the shift is over.