Usually one to materialize out of the mist, Murray's planned appearance drew a crowd of hundreds of hopefuls who circled the dead end block at the end of Greenpoint Avenue on the off chance they'd be let in to the private event. Hamilton was an easy score by comparison.
Viviane Massari and Brandon C came decked out in t-shirts emblazoned with Murray's face, hoping they might stand out from the crowd. "I figure if Bill sees our shirts he'll tell us to come in," Brandon mused.
News vans, the NYPD and even a party bus rolled up before the event was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Murray himself didn't make an appearance 'til after 8 p.m. but immediately jumped behind the bar and got to work. A new playlist seemed to accompany him, chock full of the Rolling Stones, The Faces and Pink Floyd. Offered a glass of tequila from a pink plastic cup, Murray demurred. "I've already done four shots," he said apologetically. He'd been in the room less than five minutes.
Murray gamely posed for photos—he had little choice with dozens of phones and cameras in his face—and a quartet of dudes in FDNY gear ended up behind the bar at one point, to the cheers of the crowd. Shots were by far the most popular order amongst the intimate group of under 100 people; only one douche could be heard loudly ordering a Japanese whiskey.
The space itself hasn't changed all that much from its previous incarnation as River Styx, but obviously the food and drink are completely new. Bar Director Sean McClure shared the bar space with Murray last night, shaking and stirring up his signature cocktails like the mezcal twist in the Oaxacan Old Fashioned and the tropical 6'7'8' Bunch served in a hurricane glass.
Sean Telo, previously at Extra Fancy, was also behind the line turning out bite-sized versions of his new dinner menu. Of note, the uni butter-slathered house-made rye bread; ugly vegetables also with a whipped butter; and salmon pastrami around creamy sauce gribiche topped with orbs of salmon roe.
The full restaurant will rollout on Wednesday, most likely with a lot less fanfare than these well-publicized, if private, press events. Murray should be back behind the pine this evening for round two, but don't expect any better results should you not be on the list. Publicists for the event told us that of the hundreds who showed up, only four plebs were permitted entry. "They'd been here since 3 p.m.," they said with a shrug. Sometimes, persistence pays off.