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It’s not as Extreme as it seems

Author: Staff Reporter
Source: BC Restaurant News

At first it looks like something akin to surfing, out-of-bounds snowboarding, break dancing or hot-dog skiing – a spectacular, flashy and exciting but dangerous pursuit which, while no doubt stimulating, isn’t something that might attract the sensible bar owner.


Fine, says Scott Young of www.extremebartending.com, that’s just the way it should look – because that constitutes entertainment, and entertainment is definitely part of what bar patrons pay for.  As for dangerous, though, he says this kind of bartending really isn’t, if it’s done right.


“People who remember having seen this kind of thing mostly do so from a popular 1980s Tom Cruise move called ‘Cocktail’ – but even if you have seen that, you have been exposed to only a small fraction of what is possible in the field of performance bartending.”  And what you saw, no matter how entertaining, says Scott Young, may have done the growth of this activity more harm than good.  ”I certainly hope people realize that the movie was only a Hollywood creation, and that was an unrealistic and uneconomical portrayal of the true performance bartender’s art.”


No question that Young is dedicated to his craft.  When he’s not being arguably Vancouver’s most popular bartender at The Roxy, Young has been running a company www.extremebartending.com, which offers videos outlining extreme bartending as a well as hands-on instruction in several levels of freestyle bartending – which is nowhere near as perilous as it seems.


“Most of the people who saw that movie just enjoyed it,” he says, “but if you saw that movie and you’re also in the business of serving beverages, it may also have turned you right off the subject – because the thing you will probably most remember is spillage.  If performance bartenders actually performed all the stunts you see in that movie, the spillage costs would be phenomenal.  The way we do it, alcohol spillage is simply unacceptable.  In our initial training, we offer 80 moves that are totally risk-free.”


In fact, most of the basics of performance bartending, he says, provide highly crowd-pleasing entertainment with very little actual risk.  You choose your materials to work with, and you can be as entertaining as you want without losing any money on the deal.  For instance, most of the basic moves are done with material as simple and inexpensive as drinking straws and slices of lime.  We never need to do tricks with actual alcohol; tricks involving bottles are done with fruit juices.


“And a whole lot of the most popular moves are done with stainless steel cocktail shakers.  If you drop one of those – so what?”


Furthermore, he says, there’s no question that extreme bartending pays off on the bottom line, which makes sense.  “It only stands to reason that a bar where the customers are entertained will make more money than a bar where they’re not.  If you don’t entertain your customers,” he says, “someone else will.”

Date: April 8th, 2005

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Scott Young, President and Head Instructor Bar Smart Inc.