Extreme Bartending the Flair Bartenders Guide to Jokes, Quotes and Mixed Drink Recipes

Competitions Info Online


4869 Lanark Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V5N 3S1

Tel. (604) 879-1036 Fax. (604) 875-1908


Thank you for your interest in organizing and hosting an Extreme Bartending or flair bartending Competition. We have put a lot of time and thought into creating this extensive guide because we want to make it as easy as possible for you to run a smooth, professional, successful promotion for your bar and all your liquor sponsors. Our goal is to create exposure for this exciting style of bartending all over the world. Your goal is to create a promotion that gives your customers another great reason to come to your bar on a slow night, stay longer, spend lots of money, and tell all their friends about what a great time they had so even more people come back the next week. You’ve probably noticed that we don’t charge for this package, it’s free to anybody who wants to run a bartender contest. We want to help you win because when you run a successful contest with our format, a number of things happen:

Ø      Little by little, all over the world, customers will have a good first impression of this style of flair bartending and will begin to talk about how much better it is when someone makes an effort to serve their drinks with some style and a personality.

Ø      Bartenders are given an opportunity to better themselves and to stand out from the crowd.

Ø      People will want to learn how to be a flair bartender or improve their bartending ability. If we have helped you succeed then hopefully you will help promote us as well, and we sell more bartender training dvd's & videos and teach more seminars all over the world.

Ø      As the number of bartenders with these skills grow…so will the success of your competition the next time you run it.

A positive domino effect is created and everybody winsthe bar, the bartender who competes, the cusomers who have a great time and www.extremebartending.com because you will help spread the word about our company. Bartending competitions have proven to be highly profitable and can create extensive and invaluable exposure to media and customers alike that you just can't buy.

We request that you please:

1)     Be professional. Take the contest seriously enough to put some effort into creating a great event for yourselves the bartenders who make the effort to compete and your sponsors ie. beer companies, liquor companies etc.

2)     Take good care of the bartenders who compete. Help them look good. It can be intimidating for them, so make them as comfortable as you can. It is an important night for them and after all, they’re your entertainers for the evening. One way you can help them is to get the rules, judging sheet, and message to the competitors as soon as possible, so that they know exactly what’s to be expected of them and have enough time to prepare. Surprises at the last minute create problems for the bartenders and it will effect the quality of the performances.

3)     Put our company name with our website www.extremebartending.com and phone number on any promotional material you create (please send us a copy of each).

4)     Have your host or emcee mention our bartender training dvd's & videos and occasionally hand out brochures to anybody who’s interested. We can send you extreme stickers as well if you like, just let us know and we'll send you as many as you like for free.

5)     Send us a copy of any press coverage you receive.

6)     Send us a copy of any video footage of the event (home or otherwise). We’d love to see it first hand.

7)     Write us a short letter afterwards to let us know how it went.

8)  Post your full bartending contest information for free in our bartender competition calendar.


Compiled by Scott Young

We at www.extremebartending.com by Bar Smart, have been organizing, sponsoring & judging flair bartender competitions since 1995. Every time a competition was held, it was presented to everybody as a work in progress. We always encourage the bartenders, bar amnagers & bar owners to give comments, suggestions and constructive criticism and we always get them because something always comes up that we didn’t think of. We’ve continued to make adjustments and wherever I’ve traveled, I’ve spoken to people about what makes a great bartender competition. Bartenders, owners, managers, sponsors, customers, and judges have all shared their opinions and ideas with me on two main topics:

A)                Why were they involved with the competition? What did they want to get out of the experience? What were their goals?

B)                 What, specifically, could I do to make the competition better?

This package is the compilation of many hundreds of meetings and conversations with people who care. Thank you to all the people who took the time and made the effort to contribute instead of just complaining. By the way, this is still a work in progress, so the offer still stands. You know where I am. Contact Scott with suggestions.


There are many different people involved in a competition and they get involved for different reasons. We, the creators & organizers of this particular competition, believe that it’s important for you to understand the motives of the key participants.


Why I’m involved in the competition:

Ø      Have fun

Ø      Meet other bartenders who flair

Ø      Learn new flair moves

Ø      Make a positive reputation for myself as a professional bartender

Ø      Attract new customers to my bar

Ø      Attract new job offers

Ø      Get more experience under pressure

Ø      Practicing for contests makes me better when i'm working at my home bar

Ø      Win money & prizes

Ø      I like the applause and recognition from the crowd

Ø      Show the public that flair bartenders are real all around bartenders, not just circus performers.

Ø      Demonstrate that it’s good business to be entertaining and flair bartending is very entertaining.


Why we’re involved in the competition:

Ø      Bring a lot of people to the bar on a slow night (Hopefully more than 1 night, i.e. 4 consecutive Tuesdays)

Ø      Increase alcohol sales at the bar

Ø      Increase the recognition & reputation of the bar

Ø      Excite my bartenders & encourage them to be better

Ø      Generate media attention: TV, newspaper, magazine, and radio. We can’t buy the kind of exposure that can come from this kind of event.


Why we’re involved in the competition:

Ø      Increase the visibility of our products or services

Ø      Sell more of our products or services

Ø      Create loyalty to our products from the bartenders involved. (Have them suggest it to their customers on a regular basis.)

Everybody who contributed to this format was concerned with how the public (especially bar managers and owners who create or eliminate opportunities for flair bartenders) perceive this style of bartending. There was a surprising amount of common ground between most people. Here is a list of the major agreed upon facts:

Ø      There are many names for our style of bartending: flair, performance, extreme, freestyle, flare, entertainment, Olympic, cocktail, etc… They all pretty much mean the same thing, bartending with style to entertain customers.

Ø      Flair bartending is a relatively new concept in the early stages of its development.

Ø      There is a relatively small number of flair bartenders in the world, probably less than 1%.

Ø      Most flair bartenders are highly devoted to “flair” and swear by it because it makes their job more fun and it helps them make their bar & themselves more money.

Ø      The number of flair bartenders is increasing rapidly (Jim Allison, vice president of the flair bartending association, recently told me that they now have reps in over 57 different countries.

Ø      There are a relatively few number of bar managers & owners who encourage their staff to do flair bartending because it's largely mis-understood or badly implemented by people who really don't know wht they're doing.

Ø      This number is also growing as the talent level advances and overall professionalism increases.

Ø      The bar managers & owners who do not encourage their staff, don’t understand the concept properly, probably because:

A)    They’ve never been exposed to it,

B) They’ve had a bad experience with it (Someone didn’t present it to them properly).

Ø      We believe that when a bartender is flairing at work and spills too much or takes too long to make a drink, they give a bad impression to the public and make it difficult for everybody, especially in competitions where we should be smooth and under control.

We want bar managers and owners around the world to know that this is not a fad and we are not circus performers. The skills we are developing in bartender competitions and using everyday in our bars give customers a reason to come to our bar, stay longer, spend more money, and tell all their friends about it. When bar managers and owners have reservations or a bad opinion of flair bartending, the most common complaints are:

A)                Too much spillage of alcohol which costs the bar money

B)                 Bartenders get too into showing off so it slows down service and upsets customers.

Bartending competitions are a great way to get exposure for flair bartending and present all the positive aspects to the general public and to bar managers and owners. Because competitions create such attention and because it may be the first and only experience that a person or bar manager is going to base their opinion on, it’s important to show people that being entertaining behind the bar is good business.

To summarize, our goal as the creators and organizers of this bartender competition is to create a platform where customers come out to watch a great event. Everyone involved achieves their goals and any bar manager or owner who watches walks away thinking that they would like to have these kind of bartenders working for them.

This competition is designed to showcase the following important qualities of a great bartender:

Ø      Friendly outgoing personality

Ø      Accuracy when working (no spillage)

Ø      Being entertaining but not taking too long to make a drink ( it is possible to achieve )

Ø      Promoting & suggestive selling abilities

Ø      Interaction with customers

Ø      Technically difficult flair moves

Ø      Style

Ø      Humor

Ø      Creativity & imagination

Ø      Showmanship & presence

Ø      Passion & enjoyment of their job behind the bar

Ø      Dealing well with mistakes

Ø      Teamwork & helping others

Ø      Positive attitude

Ø      The love of learning and making new friends & customers

Ø      Being professional and respectful

Ø      Being comfortable under pressure and in front of a crowd

Ø      Someone who will make an effort at being better at their job

We feel that this contest format focuses a contestant’s energy in the right places and will help them become a better all around real working bartender. Shouldn’t that be our goal? We should try to put all these things in one competition performance. Give the competitor a reasonable amount of time to present the best all around show and not feel rushed. Bar managers want easy to run events to do at night that draw a crowd. Extra rounds that judge only accuracy, speed or knowledge are good for national and international competitions, but people, customers, are more interested in watching the performances. That’s why these rounds and skills are generally held during the day.



Ø      Make it absolutely clear what I am being judged on and why.

Ø      Put it on paper, give it to me as soon as possible so I can prepare.

Ø      Describe the rules well and give an example.

Ø      We don’t like last minute changes in the rules.

Ø      Make me as comfortable as possible, I’ll be nervous enough!

Ø      Have a meeting before the contest begins to answer any questions I may have.

Ø      Understand why I’m here and help me achieve my goals.

Ø      Please, don’t treat me like I’m unimportant.

Ø      Some flair competitions have very little to do with real bartending. Create a well-rounded & balanced competition so people don’t think we’re just circus performers.

Ø      Let me pick the music so I’ll be more comfortable.

Ø      Let me use my own glassware & equipment if i want.

Ø      Supply rubber mats to stand on to minimize breakage and make us more confident.

Ø      Give me a long enough time on stage so I can get comfortable and not have to rush.

Ø      Make a contest that’s not just juggling. Juggling is a great skill to develop if you don’t overdo it and it involves making drinks. But at some competitions it’s not uncommon for bartenders to make their drinks and then spend 30-60 seconds or even longer doing complicated juggling routines and then putting the bottles away without pouring. They’re usually empty anyway. That’s not bartending.

Ø      Have competent judges with knowledge of flair bartending and bar managers judging the spillage & accuracy.

Ø      It’s nice when judges encourage us & applaud when they like something, not just sit there and be intimidating. We’re scared enough as it is.

Ø      It’s nice when the judges give suggestions after the competition. We want to know how we could have done better.

Ø      It would be nice to be given my judging sheets when it’s over so I know exactly how I did.

Ø      Have enough judges (4-6) and average out their scores.


Ø      We are happy to give our time. Please make us feel welcome as honored guests because we’re volunteers.

Ø      Give my bar or company & the products and services we offer a promotional plug now & then. It’s easy to do and we really appreciate it.

Ø      A drink tab is also appreciated as long as we don't abuse it and get drunk. Drunk judges are bad for the contest.


Ø      Give us a reason to give you more money for prizes.

Ø      We’re tired of just having a banner on the wall. That's a good start but do something different to help us achieve our goals. Make it profitable for us to be involved with your contest.


Ø      Help us achieve our goals. Don’t just rely on us to promote the contest. We’re happy to be involved but we need the bartenders to bring all their friends, family, as many people as possible to make it worthwhile for us to put all our time, effort and money into running this contest.

Ø      Make it easy for us to run. We’re very busy and have lots of other promotions to run. The more complete the package is, (the less we have to think about or work on on our own) the more likely we will be to have a competition.


Picture this:

You apply for a job at the best bar in town. The bar manager has you come in at prime time on a Friday night for a test try. She asks you to bring in as many of your friends as possible to see if you have the following that you say you have.

Upon arrival, she gives you a list of drink recipes you have to make and shows you to the bar. She stops the music and announces to the very large crowd, ”Ladies and gentlemen, we have a special treat for you tonight. We are currently looking to hire a new bartender and we decided to give ____________

a try out.”

With the wave of her hand the music begins. All eyes are on you! They’re chanting your name! Here’s your big chance to show all of them what you’ve got!

Another way to describe what we’re looking for is this…You’re at your bar working on a fairly busy night (not head down in the weeds busy, but not slow either). A group of people come up to your bar to order a round of drinks and some shooters. They’ve heard you’ve got a reputation as a great all around entertaining flair bartender. They want their drinks but they came to see a show. It’s a “simulated” real situation so you have bottles that are ½ full but you’re always prepared so you have a few bottles that are “set up” to show your more difficult flair moves.


Each contestant has a maximum of 7 minutes to make a minimum of 5 drinks. You decide what drinks they will be making. I recommend 4 drinks of your choice and one drink of their choice. Use your sponsors’ products and make sure you pick a variety of drinks. Ex: Juice martini, highball, cocktail, shooter, etc. Give everybody the same 4 drinks (when they register) with an exact recipe, including straws and garnishes. This way it’s like a stock car race, everybody has to make the same drinks except for the 5th one, where they can get as creative as they like. For the shooter, I recommend 5 of one recipe in 2oz shooter glasses.


7 minutes is the maximum (this does not include their entrance) and you may want to go 5 min for a beginner contest. You will be timed and a warning bell or signal will be sounded with one minute to go. 5-7 min is ample time to make your 5 drinks and be entertaining. If you don't have many moves then don't use the entire time. Better to leave th crowd wanting more. We do not want to penalize you, but in past competitions some routines went too long and were too repetitive or unrealistic. Ex: Making the drinks and then doing complicated “juggling” sequences. If you want to do a longer routine because you have more moves to show, that’s great, just make more drinks. Remember this is a working flair competition, which means that you actually have to make drinks and be entertaining while you’re doing it. So be an entertaining bartender, not a juggler who makes a drink occasionally.


I recommend that you staff at least 2 bar backs (porters, bartender assistants, etc.) to make sure set up & tear down for each contestant goes smoothly and doesn’t take too long. Have all contestants show up early to prepare and fill their bottles. Place them in crates or boxes, and tell contestants they have about 3 minutes. Plan on about 1 or 2 songs in between contestants. This is where it's important to have a really good host or emcee on the microphone to " hand;e " the crowd in between bartenders. You want to find a balance between too fast and too slow. If you’re too slow, customers will get impatient. But if you go too fast, contestants may feel rushed and get nervous which makes it harder for them to perform well. In between is a great time for your host or emcee to tell your customers to get their drinks, promote the sponsors and educate the crowd about the contest.


We want you to be as comfortable as you are in your own bar so feel free to set it up anyway you like with any equipment: glassware, bottles, spouts, etc. (except plastic flair bottles). We recommend you put your juices in 26 or 40oz bottles. It’s much better than using a “gun” or those thick, bulky plastic containers with a screw on lid and spout. If you don’t already do this at work, it’s a great way to increase your flairing opportunities and decrease your spillage cost. Remove the labels and fill them up. Set up bottles must have at least 3oz (enough to look like it’s not empty but low enough that you can do your best tricks). All liquor will be supplied and the bottles will be approximately half full. The bar will supply any equipment you need but we recommend that you supply your own.


That depends on how many bartender contestants you think you can get to perform. When running any promotion or event, it’s wise to plan for the worst so that if the worst happens, you still have a successful event. Think about it this way…when you advertise and promote to the public, you are promising them entertainment for the night. You would love to have lots of bartenders enter but what is the minimum amount you need to hold the contest? 4 contestants? You can even make it work with a minimum of 3 bartenders if you have to. I think the best thing to do is to stretch the contest out so you get the most out of a great event. Pick your slowest night (Tuesday) and run it for 6 weeks on that day. Watch the crowd grow!

IDEA: Have a rookie night. Make it the first night and open it to real beginners. It gives them a chance to try it out. Many people will come back the next week to compete in the regular division, if they do well and you invite them. So, invite them. Why not have more people every night? After that, hold 2-4 nights of heats where the winner of each heat goes automatically to the finals. The 2nd and 3rd place winners of each heat make the semi finals where the top 3 go on to the finals. If you have 12-16 total contestants you can make it a 6-week event. Keep in mind this isn’t the Olympics, you want a busy bar so be generous and understanding to your bartenders. If they don’t do well in their heat, invite them back to try again the next week. If you only run a one-night event or are too strict on registration rules, you won’t get the most out of this promotion.


We know you’ll be happy with the results when you run your first bartender contest, but watch how it will grow the next year once the word is out. It gets easier too. Don’t forget you can always contact Scott Young if you have any questions or need help.


Make sure you have all your best, most friendly staff members working, as it’s a great opportunity to make new regular customers. Often these contests draw very large crowds, especially if you run it for a few weeks, so make sure you have enough staff.


You have an opportunity to do some good, use it wisely. Have people donate canned food or money instead of charging cover. It's also a great way to generate some media attention.


Do I have to shut down a bar?

It’s up to you. If you can, I recommend a rollaway bar (hopefully with a popgun) and place it on a stage or on a dance floor, somewhere highly visible. Build a bar if you can and make it as sturdy as possible. Just remember to make it as much like a real bar as you can, with a back bar area, ice well, bottle rack, pop gun, etc. Have thick rubber mats behind and beside the bar to limit breakage. Also have a porter or bar back on each side of the contestant to catch bottles. It makes it easier and more entertaining.


Plan on approximately:

3 minutes-Set up

1-3 minutes-Introduction

4-7 minutes-Routine ( you choose )

3 minutes-Breakdown

11-16 minutes per contestant

I think that 8-15 contestants per night seems to be a good number. But you can do as few as 3 and still be entertaining.


Cash is always great, but sometimes a combination of cash & prizes works best. Do your best to reward as many contestants as possible, they put a lot of work into their routines. Try to have good prizes for 1st to 5th place (it looks good on your poster). I recommend giving smaller prizes for specific achievements: Best Entrance, Best Promotion of Sponsor, Least Amount of Spillage, Biggest Crash, Most Sportsmanlike, etc. Trophys are often more special than a few dollars because they can keep it forever. They're not that expensive either so check them out.


Obviously a major liquor sponsor is a must! They can donate product for the bartenders to use and will be the most eager to come on board for your promotion. Look for companies that can donate cool prizes: River rafting, go-cart racing, limousine rides, ski passes, boat cruises, mountain bike or athletic shops, radio station, etc. Try Libby’s glassware, their “Duratuff” line is great for flipping and stacking and I’ve found the reps to be very open to helping us. Contact a local bartending school as well.


No matter how good you think your event will be, people have to know about it. Here are a few ideas that will work.

YOUR CONTESTANTS: These are your most motivated promoters. They already want to have their friends, families, and co-workers cheer them on so make it easy on them!

1)     Give them at least 10 free passes.

2)     Remind them of the crowd response category. The more loud people they bring, the higher their score will be.

3)     Suggest they invite bar managers from places they’d like to work.

Promoting your event on premise is the most important, yet most

neglected area of focus, so give it some thought well in advance. Promote the event to the customers you already have.

POSTERS: Black and white or color. Grab their attention and give details. Don’t forget to put on all the sponsors’ logos.

FLYERS: Use them on the night of the competition. Include drink specials, all sponsors’ logos, a list of the judging categories, and prizes.

STAFF: Educate them on what it’s all about so they can promote it to your customers and answer any questions that may arise.

DJ: An often underused member of your staff. Utilize your DJ to properly promote all the different things that go on in your bar: Drink specials, special events, last call, please don’t drink and drive, etc.

RADIO OR PRINT ADVERTISING: Add your contest to any existing advertising.

PRESS RELEASE: Don’t underestimate:

A)    How valuable a TV, radio, newspaper or magazine article can be.

B)     How easy it is to generate media interest for this kind of event.

C)    If you’ve decided to do the right thing and include a charity, it will be much easier to get press coverage.

Here are the steps to generating media interest in your press release:

1)                 Make a list of all the places from which you would like to receive attention.

2)                 Get their phone numbers.

3)                 Write your press release. Who? What? Where? When? Why? State the facts clearly and make it sound exciting. Keep it short, one page or less. Grab them with your headline, at the top of the page type, “For Immediate Release”.

4)                 Call and ask the receptionist, “Who would be the best person to send a press release to?” (Often this will be the entertainment editor). Mention what it’s for and be excited about it. Most people think it sounds interesting and are happy to help you. (Don’t forget the fax number or email address).

5)                 Fax or email the release.

6)                 Wait a few days and start your follow up calls. “Hi Mr. Press Coverage, I’m Scott Young from the Roxy nightclub and I’m just following up to make sure you’ve received our press release for our Extreme BartendingÔ competition. I’d like to invite you down to see what it’s all about or to be a judge!”.

7)                 Don’t forget community bulletin boards or entertainment updates. Most TV and radio stations have them and they’re usually free.

8)                 Contact “live” morning or breakfast shows, TV and radio. Most cities have them and they are always looking for something interesting and visually exciting. Arrange for you (the organizer) and 1 or 2 contestants to explain the contest to them. Give a demonstration and offer to teach the host a few moves. Do this before the contest begins so you generate interest. Make sure you plug your bar, the sponsors, and your charity. Be subtle but use the opportunity, a lot of people could be watching or listening.


Have an emcee or host for the evening. Get a wireless microphone if possible. A tuxedo would be a nice touch as well. Find someone who is highly visible, well informed about the competition, and can do many things. Here are some things you are looking for in a host or emcee:

Ø      Create a comfortable and exciting atmosphere for your customers.

Ø      Promote drink specials throughout the night.

Ø      Get everybody focused on the stage when the time is right.

Ø      Be encouraging to the weaker competitors and help get the crowd involved and cheering.

Ø      Guide people to the bar between competitors to keep sales flowing.

Ø      Introduce contestants and pump them up.

Ø      Educate the crowd on the competition.

Ø      Focus attention on the sponsors (which they will love).

Ø      Be an overall presence and entertainment between competitors.

This is a very important job and choosing the right person can make or break your event.


This is a difficult topic. I will try to present the issue and the pros and cons as best I can and let you make the best choice for your particular situation. The main questions are…Do we let teams compete against single competitors? And if so…Is it fair? or How do we make it fair? In a perfect world we would have enough competitors, prizes and money to run two separate divisions. Maybe you are at that point, and that’s great! Often I’ve found that isn’t the case. I’ve found that it’s easier to find single contestants. On the other hand, sometimes people will not enter unless they have a partner. Here are a few of the major pros and cons to each situation.


Ø      Having a partner greatly increases your creative options. There are many more skills you can demonstrate. Intricate passing and synchronicity can be very impressive.

Ø      It helps you be less nervous when somebody is there with you.


Ø      You could do well, but your partner could screw up making your score lower.

Ø      It takes a lot more time and effort to “pull off” a really good doubles routine.

Ø      “Dead spots” often occur in the routine where one or both partners look unsure of what to do. They sometimes talk to each other and forget about the audience.


Ø      You can practice anytime by yourself without having to worry about “scheduling” with someone else.

Ø      When you’re alone, you know that you have to rely on you, which seems to focus people more.

Ø      If you make a mistake or don’t do exactly what you intended to do, it’s much easier to cover by “freestyling” when you’re alone.


Ø      You can’t do impressive passing or synchronized sequences that may increase your score.

Ø      There’s no where to hide.


Ø      Run two divisions if you can.

Ø      Let them compete against each other. Teams are very entertaining to watch, it would be a shame to eliminate them. In order to make it fair, have bar backs on each side of the single contestant to catch or throw bottles. If you look at the judging format and all the past competitions we’ve run, it really does end up being pretty even. Singles beat teams and vice versa. But as always, if you have any suggestions on this or any other part of the contest, let me know.


This is an important part of having a successful competition. I recommend a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 6 judges (including a spill judge). I prefer having 6 judges because the more you have, the less chance of one person dominating the outcome.

One person should be designated to be the spill judge. I recommend a bar manager or owner for this job, as they will understand why this category is so important and will take it seriously. Ask your sponsors to be judges, they’ll get the best seat in the house. Media people and celebrities are also good choices. Just make sure you have one judge who really understands the format.


In order to be as fair as possible, please read over the judges sheet carefully. It is important that you understand each category thoroughly. The bartenders you will be judging have worked hard and deserve your full attention and best judgement. When marking your score, do your best to separate each category in your mind, make your best judgement and move on. Please wait until all competitors have finished to add up their score. When each judge has a total for each competitor, combine all judges’ scores and come up with an average. This will be the competitors’ final score.


From Scott Young

Creator of this contest format

I believe it is important for you to understand the big picture. So I hope you will read this carefully and think about what I’m saying. There are many reasons why I’ve structured this competition the way I have.

The primary reason this contest exists is that a smart bar manager thought, “What a great way to pack my bar on a slow night put on an entertaining show for my customers and increase my sales!” My company, Extreme BartendingÔ by Bar Smart, supplied the “How to Run and Organize an Extreme BartendingÔ Competition” and the bar manager and his/her staff worked tirelessly to make it happen, so be thankful and polite to them.

The second reason this contest exists is that a number of smart companies thought that this concept would be a great way to reach their target market. There are all sorts of prizes and even cash, provided by these sponsors and you have a chance to win some for yourself.

The third reason is that I want to do my best to create opportunities for the current and next generation of bartenders (that’s you!). I believe in this style of bartending, whether you call it performance, extreme, flair, freestyle, etc. and I believe that when it’s done right, everybody wins: the customer, the bar, and the bartender. Unfortunately, it’s not always done right. That makes it tough on all of us who want to use these performance skills to make a better living. At its best, this style of bartending is incredible and everybody wins. At its worst, bar managers and owners don’t want it anywhere near their bar. Fortunately and unfortunately, good or bad, you will be noticed, talked about and strong opinions will be formed. That is why, especially in a competition, it is so important to try to put our best, most professional foot forward.

I’ve worked hard to put together an all around judging format that will encourage you to bring out the best in yourselves in many important areas. Please read this package carefully and think about the big picture for the bar, for the sponsor, for yourself, and for all the bartenders who will come after you. You never know if there’s a bar manager in the crowd watching everything you do and considering whether or not to offer you a job. Be professional, have a lot of fun and use this opportunity as best as you can,

Thank you,

Scott Young


Extreme BartendingÔ by Bar Smart

PS- If you have any suggestions on how to improve this competition or want to let me know how it helped you, please fax or email me. I am always looking for ways to improve and I promise I will read it and consider your suggestions.


Competitors Guide

Attn: All Competitors

The contest will begin at 7:30pm on all the nights. We do require bartenders to be in attendance no later than 6:30pm. At this time, we will do a draw to find out in what order the bartenders will compete. When your name is drawn, you can choose your spot.

Competitors are required to supply their own equipment, but if there is any extra equipment that you need, please let us know in advance and we will gladly help you out. We do recommend that you bring everything ready to go.

Each competitor must be organized and able to tear down their bar within 3 minutes so the next competitor can have enough time to set up. If it takes more than the allotted time, there will be a penalty issued.

Each competitor must give the DJ their CDs or tapes (check with us) and instructions of songs. We will try our best, but the simpler you make it for us, the fewer the mistakes will be.


*Read and reread the judging rules so you know what you’ll be judged on.

*You will probably drop something so be prepared with backups.

*The show must go on…

*Pick music everyone knows something that sets the mood and tempo.

*Be funny, people like to laugh.

*Pause for effect, don’t go so fast that people can’t appreciate your control.

*Get the audience involved with your routine (E.g. With your drinks).

*Have a good time and keep smiling. It’s all about having fun!

*Don’t forget that you’re performing for the audience (your customers) so

interact with them.

*Don’t leave anything to chance. The people who do the best are often the ones that are the best prepared. Show up early to fill your bottles or better yet, do it before you come. A lot will be going on, so take some stress away wherever you can by planning ahead.

*Contact the sponsors for ideas & help on how to best promote them for your

10 points.

*A little extra effort will go a long way.

*Introduce yourself to the judges, shake some hands, & help out other

bartenders when you can. Make some friends.

*Stay within your ability. Yes, this is a competition and you want to show your

best stuff but if you can’t control your tricks (8 or 9 out of 10 times) it will hurt

you. Find a balance between the level of difficulty you attempt and your

control of it. Something simple, done really well with personality & smooth

control, looks a lot better than something really hard that is bumbled or sloppy.

*If you are here just to win and you’ll be upset if you don’t… rethink your motivation. There are many ways to win, use your opportunities wisely & be a good sport. If you’re an all around classy individual no matter what happens you will always do well.

Extreme BartendingÔ by Bar Smart: Judging Sheet

Bartender: ____________ Contestant #:____________ Judge #(name optional):______

Please make as many notes or comments as possible. This sheet will be available to the contestant after their performance so they can learn what they can improve on.

Skills Categories 140 Points


A great bartender should be able to do something “cool” with everything behind the bar. Demonstrate mastery of your equipment by using as many different objects as possible. A little bit of everything will get a high score, be creative!

Lemons, limes, etc. _____ Beer bottles _____

Straws or stir sticks _____ Napkins _____

Bottle openers _____ Stainless(tin) _____

Full shaker _____ Strainer _____

Full bottle _____ Half bottle _____

Set-up bottle _____ Glassware _____

Ice _____ Ice scoop _____

Different ways of pouring _____ Lighter _____

Stainless and bottle _____ Two bottles _____

Three bottles _____ Stainless & two bottles _____

2 or 3 stainlesses _____ Etc. _____



60 Points – TECHNICAL DIFFICULTY (Difficulty level of attempted routine)

Judge them on what they try to do. How hard is the overall routine? Is it mostly easy stuff or very complicated? Keep in mind, if they “attempt” a very high- risk routine and don’t make any of it, then they deserve a high score in this category but they will lose points in the control and spillage categories. HINT: Find a balance in the top three categories.

Rating Levels:

Incredible 46-60

Advanced 39-45

Intermediate 16-30

Beginner 0-15




Do they give the impression that they know where it’s going when they throw something in the air? Are they in total control of their tricks? Are their angles tight rather than sloppy? Regardless of the difficulty level of their routine, do they “Nail” the moves or do they fumble through it? (Even if they don’t spill a drop.) This is NOT spillage. They could spill EVERYTHING but not fumble or be awkward at all and they could get a high score.

Rating Levels:

Incredible 31-40

Advanced 21-30

Intermediate 11-20

Beginner 0-10



Skill Total ____


Style 40 Points


Demonstrate the ability to perform at different speeds. Do they have different gears or is it a race to the finish line to see how many moves they can do before the song ends? HINT: Being fast is great, but if overdrive is the only gear they have, then they are just scratching the surface of performance bartending. Pauses for effect here and there to break things up and show mastery of their skills is necessary.

Gears Demonstrated Well:


FAST ______

MEDIUM ______

SLOW ______





Do they flow in time with the music? Watch their body language…are their moves boring and robotic with their feet planted in one spot, just moving their upper bodies OR are they using their entire body to express their art in a dance? Do they have rhythm or two left feet? Do they have any lateral or horizontal movement or do they just stand in one place.



Style Total ______


People Skills Categories 35 Points

15 Points – PRESENCE (Self presentation, personality, professional attitude)

Are they a confident showman with an outgoing positive attitude? Are they comfortable and having fun being a bartender regardless of the skill level? OR… are they shy, nervous, and unsure? Do they look confused behind the bar? Would you hire this person as a front man OR are they more of a back-up bartender assistant? Are they having fun at making the drinks or do they look like they don’t care?




Did they involve the crowd or judges in any way? Did they look at them, smile at them, talk to them, and go into the crowd to grab a volunteer, serve the crowd drinks? HINT: The people around your bar want to be acknowledged. They’re important and want to feel special. Use your power and position to make someone’s night by having him/her be a part of our world.




A bartender, who can bring in a crowd, is a more valuable employee. Cheering, yelling, hooting, laughing, chanting, singing, clapping, etc. How much did the audience like the performance. HINT: Stack the deck and increase your odds by having your family and friends fill the audience to support you.



People Skills Total ______


Showmanship and Salesmanship 30 Points


A server who suggests and promotes to their customers is more valuable than one who just takes an order. Did they highlight, showcase, or point out any or all of the sponsors products or services? Did they use any of the sponsors’ products for the fifth drink? HINT: Remember, the sponsors make this event possible! They give away prizes, and create a great opportunity for you to make a name for yourself. Show some respect and say THANK-YOU by working them into your routine.




Props, costumes, gimmicks, themes, music, etc. (ex. Has any creative thought gone into the preparation of their routine OR did they just show up?) HINT: They need to make an effort to make an impact.




This is your opportunity to present yourself to the judges, the audience, and any bar manager who might be hiring. Be creative, and get their attention! Let them know that you’re worth watching. IDEAS: Write an introduction about yourself and have the host read it or take the microphone and introduce yourself. EX: Where you work, how long you’ve been bartending, where you learned. Describe your goals and philosophies of bartending, or even read an original poem. You’ve got the stage, so use it wisely.



Total Sportsmanship & Showmanship ______


Deductions & Penalties

Note to judges: Please be careful of calling these penalties. When you do make certain they are deserved and in proportion to the infraction. The purpose is not stop creativity or the big moves, only to keep the performance realistic to what you would see behind a real bar when the bartender has a little extra time to perform for a crowd who wants to see a show.

5 points per occurrence or sequence of – EXCESSIVE FLAIRING (Judges discretion)

Too much continuous flipping without pouring, icing, placing on the bar, passing or putting away. We want to see you be entertaining while you are in the process of making a drink. We want to see your best moves and sequences worked into the flow of you making drinks. More than 5, 10 or 15 seconds is probably too long although this is only a guideline. Extra use of magic or when a theme is involved may be acceptable, just don’t overdo it.

5 points per occurrence or sequence of -FLAIR WITH EMPTY BOTTLES (Judges discretion)

If the judge feels that too many of your moves are done with empty bottles (when you pour less than 1oz comes out, unless you continue to do moves in between pours). After you empty your bottle, you don’t have to put it away immediately, but continuing to flip for more than 5 or 10 seconds is probably too long.


Total Skill Points ______

Total Style Points ______

Total People- Skills Points ______

Total Showmanship & Salesmanship ______

Subtotal ______

Minus Total Penalties ______

TOTAL ______

(NOT INCLUDING spill judges deductions)

***Always have 2 judges for this category.Place judges on either side of the bartender as close as possible. Take an average of their scores for a final total.


Be as consistant as possible.One sheet for each contestant(each competitor will be given their score sheets after the contest)


















Straws, Garnishes, Strainers-

1 point per drop


Mixing Tin and stainless- 2 points per drop


Bottles or Glassware-

3 points per drop


Broken Item- 5 points per break


Forgetting a garnish or straw when applicable- 1 point per item


Spilling while pouring- 2 points per spill


Large spills - 3 points per spill


Sprays or tails- 2 points each


Large sprays or tails- 3 points each


Unsellable Drink (Not enough liquid)-

5 points each




There is no limit to the amount of points you can lose in this category. This is the biggest potential negative for the growth and acceptance of our


style of bartending. We take professionalism very seriously. Competitors must stay within their abilities.They are here to make a name


for themselves and to get a job in a great establishment. If they are spilling or dropping, it is not likely that a bar manager will hire them.


ANY SLOPPINESS WILL BE PENALIZED!!!***Hint to contestants: You are an ambassador to a relatively new and misunderstood way of conducting


our business, so this is your opportunity to be a professional and show the skeptics what's possible. This is a business and


SPILLAGE IS UNACCEPTABLE! If you can't do a move without spilling, then don't do it. Keep in mind that whether you're competing or working


you are showcasing our style of bartending to the world. WE know that it's very possible to be entertaining without spilling, so prove it to everybody else.


Mandatory Drinks Made


A minimum of 5 presentable, sellable drinks must be made. Five points will be deducted for each one that is not.


1______ 2______ 3______ 4______ 5______


professional and show the skeptics what's possible. This is a business and SPILLAGE IS


UNACCEPTABLE! If you can't do the move without spilling, then don't do it. Keep in mind that


whether you're competing or working, you are showcasing our style of bartending to the world. WE


know that it's very possible to be entertaining and not to spill, so prove it to everybody else.