Putting the style back in spirits | NevadaAppeal.com

Putting the style back in spirits

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Flair bartenders, from front left, Sean Alto, Jeremy Patchen, Gabriel Torres and David Kemper practice tricks at the Carson Nugget on Tuesday afternoon. They leave Sunday to compete at the Quest Flair Bartender Competition at the Grove Nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
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Saunter up to the Show Lounge at the Carson Nugget, order a drink and you may get a little something extra.

Rum and Coke – with a side of fire.

Just over a year ago, several servers at the Nugget began training to become flair bartenders and add some entertainment to their customer service.

“We wanted to bring a younger crowd into the Nugget,” said bar manager Gabriel Torres. “To change the face, to get more people who are 25 to 35 to 40 into the Nugget.”

The bartenders are training with Extremebartending.com, a company based in Vancouver, Canada, that specializes in training and demonstrations of flair bartending.

“It’s entertainment bartending that people often associate with the movie ‘Cocktail,’ but what the movie did was just the beginning. We take it to the next level, making it functional to do behind the bar,” said David Parkinson, Extremebartending.com instructor.

Now Torres, Jeremy Patchen, David Kemper and Sean Alto are heading East to test their skills against the best in the country at the Quest Flair Bartender Competition Oct. 22-25 at the Grove Nightclub in Orlando, Fla.,

“They are judged on technical ability, smoothness and control but they are also judged on drops and spillage,” Parkinson said.

Torres and the other competitors were taught to utilize everything behind the bar to perform tricks, including glasses, garnishes, straws and the liquor bottles themselves.

“They are to the point where they do a trick with every single drink. Everything from a beer to cocktails,” Parkinson said. “They are definitely doing more advanced moves.”

Even though they can now juggle three bottles, throw bottles between bartenders and spout fire, it wasn’t always that easy.

“There was lots of breakage in the beginning, you definitely crawl before you walk. We actually had a rule that you did 10 pushups for every drop,” Torres said.

Even as recent as two months ago, while attempting to pour into a pyramid of martini glasses, the bottom shifted.

“We killed 10 martini glasses and all the glasses used to build the pyramid. We lost 23 of them total,” Torres said.

Despite the mistakes, they continue to improve their skills.

“I do it because it’s fun and I enjoy my job. Plus, I like being the center of attention,” said David Kemper, flair bartender.

The bartenders are putting on exhibitions of flair bartending at 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday night before leaving for the competition on Sunday morning. They will also continue to showcase their skills after they return.

“The thing that needs to be stressed is that it doesn’t take us any longer to make the drinks. It’s a flow that adds some entertainment,” Torres said. “It’s serving with style.”

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at jshipley@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.

If you go

What: Flair bartending exhibitions

When: 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: Carson Nugget Show Lounge

Call: 882-1626 for more information