Ask Your Bartender: Murphy

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Gee, look, it’s six in the morning and I can’t sleep a wink. I’ve gotten some interesting emails through the site lately and I thought I’d share one of them.

By the way, I love getting email through here, so keep ’em coming.

Hey Nartender

I am a bartender in Wildwood, NJ. Someone asked me where the term Murphy (where you get the last shot in the bottle for free) came from. Please write me back.


Hey Dana

I did some research into your question. I’ve never heard that term or practice myself, so I talked to some other East Coast bartenders and searched the internet. No person or website I consulted had ever heard of this, so it might be a pretty local practice, giving away the last shot in a bottle and calling it a Murphy.

I would guess that the term “Murphy” is a generic kind of ethnic slur directed at the Irish, like “Mulligan” is in golf.

So, has anyone else heard of this? It’s totally unheard of here on the West Coast, apparently.

3 Replies to “Ask Your Bartender: Murphy”

  • Richard says:

    The Murphy part I do not know of . But the last shot in any bottle in the heart and mid-west is called the spider. If you shout “I got the spider” it is traditional that it’s free,and the bartender would pour a full shot out of a new bottle on top of it .

  • Michael Ward says:

    While never hearing of this tradition exactly as stated, I have run across something similar. In Baltimore, MD as well as in southern Florida, there used to be the tradition that the person who bought the last shot of Louis XIII cognac got to keep the Baccarat crystal decanter it comes in. I remember this being the tradition in numerous restaurants in which I worked. Over the years it has faded from practice as the cost of Louis XIII (and other luxury spirits) has skyrocketed—so few places carry these items anymore.

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