Natalie Morales shows off her bartending skills on ‘Abby’s’


The bar in the NBC sitcom “Abby’s” differs a bit from the one in the network’s 1982-93 hit “Cheers.” The setting is an illegal backyard speakeasy run by an ex-Marine named Abby (Natalie Morales), not a neighborhood hangout owned by a former pro ballplayer named Sam (played by Ted Danson); it’s based in San Diego, not Boston; and in a first for a sitcom it’s filmed outdoors — not indoors — in front of a live audience at Universal Studios in LA. (Taping takes place in the Wisteria Lane backyard of “Desperate Housewives” character Edie Britt, who was played by Nicolette Sheridan in that 2004-12 ABC series.) In the comedy, Abby offers cheap drinks and witty banter to a parade of neighbors like retiree Fred (Neil Flynn, “The Middle”) and frazzled mom Beth (Jessica Chaffin, “Big Mouth”), under the worrisome eyes of her landlord, Bill (Nelson Franklin, “Black-ish”).

Series star Morales, 34, spoke with The Post on Tuesday before heading to her first-ever late-night talk show appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

Why did Abby decide to start a backyard bar?
She got sick of people telling her what to do, which I can relate to. It just happened organically in that people started coming over and she was like, “Can you kick some money into this?” and then it just turned into something she really enjoyed and a home she could provide for people.

Is she filling an emotional void?
I’m sure — yeah. Her group of friends really fills that; that’s her family.

How different is it to film a sitcom outside?
It’s really fun, but a weird thing. It sort of feels like you’re doing Shakespeare in the Park, but more important and longer-lasting, I suppose. More time-tested.

How do you deal with outdoor noise?
The good thing is we’re not trying to hide that we’re outside, so if there’s wind or a shadow or a bird chirping, we embrace it. However, when there’s an ambulance or helicopter, then you can’t hear — that you have to wait for. Every once in a while, a skunk will walk across the set and everybody has to stay very still.

That actually happened? Did it leave an odor behind?
It didn’t leave anything behind. They don’t mess with you if you don’t mess with them. It just went along its merry way.

Have you previously been a bartender yourself?
I sure have. I bartended at several places in LA and Miami for quite some time because it’s typically a good job that is sort of flexible and doesn’t always interfere with auditioning.

Were you good at it?
I was an excellent bartender! You will see my skills if you watch the show. There’s not a drink that I make that doesn’t include all the ingredients that are actually how I would make it.

Is there any real booze in the bar?
No, no — that would impede our ability to act. It’s nonalcoholic beer that comes out of the spouts. Though we have been known to have an afterparty or two and hook up a real keg.

Do you have a least favorite drink to make?
A Long Island iced tea — it’s just gross, throwing as many different kinds of alcohol as you can find in a glass. There’s no creativity and it’s just gonna get whomever I’m giving it to wasted. [Laughs.] There’s no joy in that.

How often do you get confused with NBC’s “Today” show anchor Natalie Morales?
Constantly! I will check Twitter in the morning and someone will say, “Hey, your legs look great today.” And I have to remember that someone’s not in my walls and it’s just that they’re watching the “Today” show.