Vying for No. 1 when it comes to concocting cocktails
Appeal Staff Writer
When bartenders at the Carson Nugget say they want to raise the bar, they mean it.
The goal is not only to make the drinks better, but to make the service the best in the world – and what better way to do it than by bringing the best in the world to Carson City.
Thirty-two of the world’s best flair bartenders spent Wednesday afternoon looking to qualify for one of the eight coveted spots in tonight’s finals of the Wild Wild West Flair Off.
The Nugget is one of 10 venues selected to host professional events for the Flair Bartenders Association Tour. The top prize for the Wild Wild West Flair Off is $5,000 in cash and prizes.
Flair bartending is the practice of manipulating bar tools, including glasses, straws and bottles, for the entertainment of customers. Tricks include bottle flips and juggling, flaming drinks and magic tricks.
“This gives us that chance to host the best in the world and show our customer base what the professional level of this looks like,” said Noel Wygant, Nugget beverage director.
In late 2005, several of the Nugget’s bartenders began training to become flair bartenders and have since started competing on the pro tour.
“There is definitely a call for it here, so we thought we’d bring it. There’s been a lot of Band-Aids, spilled liquor and broken glasses, but we’ve stuck with it, and the guys are getting pretty good,” Wygant said.
What makes the event at the Nugget somewhat unique is that seven of the 10 highest ranked competitors in the world are expected to compete.
“Usually there are two or three highly ranked bartenders and they make it to the finals and one of them wins, but with this many, it’s really wide open,” Wygant said.
The preliminary rounds were held Wednesday when each competitor was given four minutes to make three drinks. Competitors are judged on flow of routine, skills utilized, over and under pours, showmanship and level of difficulty.
The top eight make the finals, where they are given six minutes to make three drinks.
“They usually hold back a little bit in the prelims and go all out for the finals. That’s where you will see things like a five-bottle juggle. They do that while changing directions and throwing behind their backs,” Wygant said.
Several of the Nugget’s bartenders will be competing, more for the experience than for a shot at the victory.
“Realistically, we don’t have much of a chance. We have seven of the top 10 in the world here, so it will be tough,” Wygant said.
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.
If you go
What: Wild Wild West Flair Off
When: Doors open at 8 p.m., competition starts at 9 p.m.
Where: Club Vu, upstairs in the Carson Nugget
Cost: $10 at the door
OFNOTE: The Wild Wild West Flair Off Competition is a Level 1 event on the 2007 Flair Bartenders’ Association (FBA) Pro Tour.
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