At the end of Brooklyn’s Greenpoint Avenue, just before Transmitter Park hits the East River, a chicken bus blasting party music, a Coach charter carrying a wedding party and coterie of pedestrians amble outside a colonial brick facade.
It’s around 6:30 pm on Friday evening. After an overhaul that began in August, River Styx owners Homer Murray and Syd Silver are once more opening the doors of their bar/restaurant—now called 21 Greenpoint—to the “public” in half an hour.
With a fancier food menu from chef Sean Telo of Extra Fancy and an exhaustive cocktail list from bar director Sean McClure of Le Bernadin and Dirty French, it stands to reason that there’d be a decent crowd gathered for 21 Greenpoint’s triumphant make over reveal. Though the waiting throng may feign an air of casual composure, the kind only cool Brooklyn kids can pull off at moments when mortal men would frenetically froth at the mouth, it’s pretty evident this ain’t mama’s soft opening.
The requisite woman with her clipboard starts filing guest wearing pink wristbands through the entryway a little before 7:30 pm. Men in black suits and ties perform the task of crowd control. Those hundred or so who manage to make their way inside meet with a candlelit country home interior that houses an open kitchen and plenty of seating in the back past the front bar.
Clad in his barman’s suspenders, McClure is already steadily mixing complex drinks as servers squeeze by occupied barstools with trays of “ugly veggies.” Telo sources his fruits and veg from a company that saves “crooked carrots and curvy cucumbers” from grocery stores’ strict cosmetic standards. Homer very inconspicuously observes the fruits of his labor by the staff room door. Right around 8:00 pm, in concord with the ugly veggies, a broken flower walks in.
Bill Murray, who since his turn as Bob Harris in Sofia Coppola’s 2003 film “Lost in Translation,” can do no wrong in the eyes of the misunderstood, sensitive idealist. A non-polarizing, kind-hearted friend to all, he’s Homer’s dad and he’s here to see that no man leaves 21 Greenpoint without taking a shot of tequila first.
As he sets about brushing up on a few bar tricks with McClure and pouring some tequila, several firemen stream in. No fire codes have been broken; they’re here for a picture with Venkman. Everyone in the bar wants a picture with Homer’s dad. He carelessly dances along to “Easy on Sunday Morning” while quite diligently managing drink requests and when the time feels right, he stops to make a toast:
“This is my first born son Homer. (People chant Homer, Homer…) I am so happy for myself, and all of you that he has not continued in the family business. That he has taken the joy of the family to have a drink and have a meal and have friends together in one place.”
McClure, meanwhile, takes up the slack. He uses liquid nitrogen to pour smoke clouds into coups. He stirs when stirring is required, shakes when shaking is required and all with a journeyman’s ease. Guests can’t get enough of his Singapore Sling or Bee Sting. Homer however, requests an off-menu drink called Homer’s Day Off. Not yet man. You have to do this all over again tomorrow night. #Groundhog Day.