No One Is More Qualified to Dispense Alcohol—and Alcohol Advice—Than Bill Murray

Bill Murray
Bill Murray is tending bar at his son's restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, on Friday and Saturday nights, September 16-17. Lost in Translation

Updated | Late-period Bill Murray is known for a lot more than his quick wit and dry sense of humor. He golfs. He crashes events. He steals fries. He is erroneously implicated in a scheme involving a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album. He is the uncle we all wish we had. Instead of downing one too many Bud Lights at the Labor Day barbecue, he passes out never-enough tequila shots at your favorite bar. This weekend it's 21 Greenpoint in Brooklyn, New York.

Yes, beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night, Murray will step behind the bar to serve drinks devised by New York cocktail master Sean McClure. The occasion is the opening of 21 Greenpoint, a restaurant owned by his son, Homer, whose previous restaurant, River Styx, occupied the same space. "We want people to come and have fun,'' Homer told Eater of his new venture's grand opening. "People can walk in; just be nice. What my dad lacks in experience, he makes up for in tequila."

On Friday, he was in fine form:

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GUYS. ITS BILL MURRAY. HOLY FREAKING CRAP. HES SO CHILL. #chill #billmurray #omfg #excite #brooklyn #bklyn #greenpoint #bestfriends

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This isn't the elder Murray's first time behind a bar. The most famous instance came in 2010, when he poured shots at Austin, Texas's Shangri-La during South by Southwest. He poured shots and chatted it up with patrons, after which he allegedly retreated to the corner to hang with RZA and GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan. There are surely countless others instances of Murray bartending over the past 40 years that, sadly, were not documented and posted to social media.

In 2015, he appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to dispense some spontaneous-drink-pouring wisdom.

In the clip, Murray talks about "professional drinkers" and how they make sure to have a glass of water with every drink. It's important to stay hydrated, because that way you can keep partying, which is, as we've come to know so well since the dawn of smartphones and social media, is what Bill Murray is all about. "If you can drink a glass of water with every drink you drink, you become much more interesting later on in the evening," Murray tells Kimmel. This isn't idle talk show banter. These are words to live by. This is oral tradition, passed down from a true master.

For Murray, drinking is about entertainment. The drunker you are, the more entertaining you are, but you're not going to be entertaining unless you can ward off the fatigue that can come with downing multiple drinks. As he told Kimmel, it's about staying hydrated. He told the same thing to Dazed a year earlier, specifically as it pertains to champagne, which is notorious for sneaking up on over-eager partygoers.

"I learned how to drink champagne a while ago. 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 [is] 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."

This is next-level insight, and only one of the countless nuggets of drinking wisdom Murray has accrued over the years. In a 2013 interview with Esquire, he philosophized on vodka versus gin:

"Different vodkas have different effects. Some make you feel a little…poly-lingual. Some make you feel like you want to talk back to someone who's giving you a hard time. Some make you feel like lifting kettle bells. There's something about the taste of this vodka that takes the bad taste out of your mouth. I don't mean like a mouthwash, but if something bad is on your mind, this makes it go away. I have a quieter voice when I drink it. I drink gin, and once, when drinking gin, I made a large man cry. Not with this. This makes you kind of sweet."

He went on to detail the pleasures of drinking vodka from the base of an ice luge, a fixture at his Christmas parties, and how he likes to keep half of his vodka in the freezer and half of it warm. "You know, the Danes drink that Aquavit warm," he said. "They pour that stuff right in their mouths as they chew."

That leaves whiskey, which Murray is most famous for drinking in the 2003 film Lost in Translation, in which he plays an actor struggling to cope with a midlife crisis while in Japan shooting a whiskey commercial. Some of the film's most iconic scenes feature Murray's character shooting the commercials and debonairly brandishing a glass of Suntory whiskey as he mugs for the camera.

It's not that much of a stretch to credit the subsequent Japanese whiskey boom to Murray. Put this guy in the Hall of Fame.

Murray's tendency to hop behind the bar to dole out good times shouldn't be surprising, then. It goes beyond his partying chops, though. It fits perfectly with his personality. Bill Murray is cool, he is understated, but he also likes attention. You can see it on the golf course. You can see it when he nonchalantly walks onto late-night sets wearing something flamboyant. You can see it in the hasty iPhone videos of whatever party he unexpectedly decides to crash. He isn't enamored with celebrity; he likes to banter with the common folk, and there is no better perch from which to dispense rapid-fire witticisms to as many people as possible than from behind a bar with a bottle of tequila in hand, or maybe both hands.

Either way, he'll be pouring waters as well. Remember, hydration is key.

This post has been updated to reflect Murray's appearance at 21 Greenpoint on Friday night.

No One Is More Qualified to Dispense Alcohol—and Alcohol Advice—Than Bill Murray