Call it the Hooley spirit!
A bar industry magazine saluted the owner and long-time tender of Farrell’s Bar and Grill in Windsor Terrace with the highest honor available to a barkeep on Wednesday, when it inducted him into the Bartender Hall of Fame.
Bartender Magazine celebrated sage tapster Jim “Hooley” Houlihan for the years he has spent leveraging the beloved Prospect Park West watering hole’s name to offer locals a helping hand, according to the man himself.
“It’s a great neighborhood,” said Houlihan, 76, who has worked behind the bar for 50 years and owned it for almost 20. ”We take care of each other.”
In 1995, a year before he and co-owner Tim Horan bought Farrell’s, Hooley worked with local firefighters to recruit 300 volunteers to repaint the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School in a weekend.
Ever since, the barkeep has used his prestigious role as neighborhood whistle-wetter for the benefit of Park Slope and Windsor Terrace — in 2005, he organized a “neighborhood reunion” that raised north of $50,000 for locals churches, according to one long-time patron.
“He’s very good at getting people to come together,” said Park Slope native Mike Signorile. “Everybody knows Hooley.”
It is his support of the community, along with the dozen clippings his wife Eileen sent to Bartender Magazine that led the periodical to add him to its list of top notch bartenders, according to the magazine’s editor Jackie Foley.
But patrons say Hooley really deserves the award for the simple reason that he is a great guy.
“He’s my friend,” said Bob “Broadway” Cunningham. “He deserves this honor.”
Houlihan took his first job behind a bar at Farrell’s in 1965, when he served many of the same patrons who still frequent the local joint today.
Things were different back in those days, when Eddy Farrell still operated his namesake drinkery, and women were banned from bar service on account of there being no bar stools to seat them at — a novel workaround that made Farrell’s a sanctuary for the fellas, according Signorile.
“They wouldn’t serve women back in the ’60s, so we’d say, ‘We’re going to Farrell’s,’ and they’d leave us alone,” he said. “It was just beer and balls, nothing fancy.”
The 82-year-old tavern now has women — and bar stools — but, in many ways, it retains the unique charm that has kept locals coming back throughout the decades, regulars say.
“All my friends are here. It’s a neighborhood place. It’s the place to be,” said Cunningham.
The fact that Farrell’s serves beer in 32-ounce foam cups — known as Farrelizers — doesn’t hurt either, although Hooley would never admit that it is the bar’s main selling point.
“That’s not it,” said Houlihan. “It’s because of the people. The neighborhood always comes back to support Farrell’s.”