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Step away from the bar

Author: Caillin Katnich
Source: The Peace Arch News

If you ever stood at the bar and watched in awe as the barkeep juggled glasses and twirled bottles through the air, you’re familiar with the art of flair bartending.


The craft is as popular as ever, and local talent is adding to the impressive displays of skill and technique.


Grant Riel, a White Rock resident and bartender at Ocean Beach Hotel, recently competed in a Las Vegas competition with bartenders from 18 countries.


Riel, with fellow White Rock resident Marc Mital, finished second in a doubles competition held in an 8,000 seat venue at the Aladdin Hotel, winning a cash prize for their effort.


Riel and Mital have been flair bartending for years, even producing instructional videos – Extreme Bartending – for those interested in honing their skills.


The sport took off in the 1980s – thanks to the Tom Cruise film Cocktail.


“A lot of bars now are looking for flair bartenders because it adds to the experience.  It’s entertaining,” Riel said.


The Las Vegas event was flair bartending’s fifth annual competition.  Riel and Mital finished third last year.


“We’re hoping we can keep the pattern going,” he said.


Riel doesn’t have any special moves for competition, but said all successful flair bartenders have one thing in common.


“You learn a lot from watching others’ moves,” he said.


“You have to keep your eyes open to come up with new things.”


At top, flair bartenders Grant Riel of the Ocean Beach Hotel and Marc Mital of The Roxy Night Club showed off their juggling skills with a little demonstration this week after returning home from Las Vegas.  The two competed together in the doubles competition to and brought home a second place win, one up from last year’s third place win.  Flair bartending gained popularity in the 80s, bringing panache and entertainment to the art of bartending.

Date: April 8th, 2005

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