The joint was already jumping at Club Cumming when its namesake and co-owner, actor Alan Cumming, walked in. He peered over to the bar and saw it three-deep with patrons putting a strain on a team of hustling bartenders.

"I feel I have to bartend," said Cumming, who hurried over to the bar and began serving.

It was just another night at Club Cumming, which opened a year ago. Cumming lives nearby and is a frequent presence — not just to make an appearance but to jump in and help with the work.

"I don't come to my bar to hide," he said. "I make sure I don't just come and stay for a second. When I'm here, I want to represent. Why would you want to have a bar otherwise?"

Cumming, who has appeared in scores of films and stage productions, is currently starring in the CBS series "Instinct," which he had been shooting all day before showing up at the club. He said the idea to open Club Cumming, which has the feel of the Kit Kat Club from "Cabaret," grew out of the post-performance parties he would throw for friends in his dressing room during the 2014 Broadway production of "Cabaret."

"At the time, I was so busy that I had to make the fun come to me," he said, "and it's the same with the bar."

As he poured drinks, Cumming chatted with patrons, some of whom were regulars. Others were first-timers eager to get waited on by the celebrity bar owner.

Cumming, who started working professionally when he was quite young and never stopped, said that he had always wanted to be a bartender, a staple job for many struggling actors.

"Now that I have my own bar, I finally get to be a bartender," he said, adding that he is still sometimes baffled by some drink orders. "If someone asks for a tequila sunrise, I might say, 'How about a tequila and soda?'" he said.

Still, he has learned how to work the cash register and to open tabs on credit cards. He has mostly mastered the soda gun, but can still mix up the buttons to dispense the correct mixer, including one C-button for Coke and another C-button, for cranberry juice.

"I've made a mistake of giving a whiskey and cranberry to someone who ordered a whiskey and Coke," he said, adding that many fans do not seem to mind a messed-up a drink made by a movie star.

"I asked them if it was OK, and they said, 'Of course,' " he said. "I have great license to make a mistake and say, 'Well, it's not my main job.' "

Another part of bartending is providing a sympathetic ear. A customer, Michael Strachan, 60, tearfully told Cumming about his battle with cancer. Cumming listened intently for 10 minutes, hugged him and supplied him with bar napkins for his tears. Afterward, Strachan was visibly moved by the conversation.

"He's a celebrity," he said, "and here I am, some stranger coming at him with all this pain, and he was like, 'Bring it.' "

Cumming slipped from the bar to the stage around midnight and reeled off a dramatic version of "Mein Herr," from "Cabaret."

This was the same man who had just slipped lemon wedges into two bottles of Corona and slid them over to Emma Williamson, 26, a British tourist.

"I had no idea he was going to be the bartender," she said, taking the beers. "It definitely made my day."