Author: Rowan Wallis
Source: Pg 37 Spring 98 - Bar & Beverage Business Magazine
Pouring a drink is only the beginning for Vancouver bartender Scott Young, whose unique style has earned him laurels from customers and bar owners alike.
Tonight, Vancouver-based bartender Scott Young is going to pour drinks. Outwardly, this is no big deal, except that when Young pours a drink it is liable to be over his shoulder or while his hands are on fire.
Young works the bar at the port city's The Roxy, a position he has held for the past six years. Owned by Granville Entertainment, The Roxy is one of Western Canada's busiest rock 'n roll night spots, with line ups seven evenings a week. Here, Young has distinguished himself through professionalism of service and an exciting behind-the-bar presence that includes drinks such as his "backdraft" (see right) , a concoction that includes blazing hands and an eight-foot flame in the mixing directions.
Not content to just simply pour a drink, Young 'flips' them, a term he uses to describe extreme bartending, a style that includes hundreds of tricky moves such as building pyramids of shooters, tossing lemon slices into the air and catching them in drink glasses or working with other bar staff in near-choreographed passing maneuvers.
"All the 'flips' are just for the customers' entertainment; the main thing is service," says Young, who, in addition to his behind-the-bar duties, offers a full training program through his company called Bar Smart, a travelling seminar and demonstration program that features a comprehensive hands-on guide to mastering a unique bartending style.
"You've got to do something -anything- to give customers a reason to come back to your bar. This can be as simple as making eye contact to just offering a simple hello, to wild tricks and flashy presentation."
Young suggests he is all about making the customer happy and notes that there are hundreds of ways to do that. First, he says that bartenders have to be willing to take up a leadership position with porters and waitstaff and be proactive in directing customer satisfaction.
"With a little effort you can make a difference that will increase the odds of getting tips and having customers come back. This is what the www.extremebartending.com Bar Smart program is all about. In our two-day seminar we teach 57 moves, of which half are totally risk free. We motivate bartenders to deliver the service that customers expect without spilling or slowing down."
Young points to something as simple as water as a good example of what many bartenders do wrong.
"So a customer orders only water? Who knows when they might order something else? Maybe they are the designated driver. Don't make them feel it's a lot of trouble to put a glass of water in front of them."
Young remarks that he will put the same effort into a water drink as any other beverage by catching a slice of lime in the glass and generally animating the delivery.
"Even customers that order water, tip," he says, adding that no matter what people ask for, they are still a customer in your establishment and deserve the same level of service.
"Always be engaging," he suggests, pointing out that even if you have little to say, you can always ask questions to show you're interested in the customer. "If they ask for a shooter, give them some choices. Ask what color shooter they want or suggest something unusual. If they want a cocktail you can ask whether they want a refreshing, creamy, sweet or harsh drink and then make some suggestions. The result will always be a customer that feels good about service that's been personalized."
Attitude and Training: Key to Good BartendingYoung, who has been tending bar for eight years, got his start at age 19. He wanted to make more money than he was at the time and have a job he could take with him on travels to locales such as Australia.
"I dropped out of university and enrolled in Fine Art Bartending School. My first job was at the Fogg 'N Suds, a very busy pub-style bar that features a huge assortment of beer. I was lucky that the owners of the bar were highly service oriented and they placed a major emphasis on training. For them, bartending was more than just serving a drink," he says, noting that their attitude was a seminal point in his professional development.
Six years ago Young moved over to The Roxy, stating that they hired him based on his personality and then allowed him to grow professionally. At The Roxy he worked alongside a crew of bar pros such as Andy MacBeth and Sasha Pocecovic, both top drawer countermen who taught Young that you could be entertaining, be good with people and handle the high volumes necessary to keep the bar running smoothly.
"They (MacBeth and Pocecovic) kept a positive attitude toward customers, could do all the tricks without spilling and were good sportsmen as well. They showed me it could be done, and done with class. I owe them a lot."
Four and a half years ago, Young started Bar Smart.
"I'd been 'flipping' for a while and people asked me to train them. I went to Edmonton for the first round of seminars which have become very, very popular."
Currently, Bar Smart www.ExtremeBartending.com features programs from a half day to a two-day program with an additional third day Mastery course. Young is also in the finishing stages of a book on bartending service called Extreme Bartending, 'Serve it With Style' and is shooting a video training series complete with 240 bartending moves.
Advice? Young suggests that owners realize that their ,staff is the front line. "Hire good people, give them some training and let them know what is expected. Then let them do their jobs."
Above all, he adds, always serve it with style.
Killer Watermelon (Scott's invention)
2/3 oz Southern Comfort
Date: April 1st, 1998