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Author: Scott Young
Source: Bar & Beverage Business Magazine

“I do it because I’m passionate about this aspect of the industry” – says Vancouver Scott Young, a bartender at the city’s The Roxy.  To be sure, there are few in the trade who have stepped up to promote bartending like Young.  At 31 he is among the country’s leading practitioners of the flair arts and is President of Extreme Bartending by Bar Smart (www.extremebartending.com) a flair and bar service training company that he takes on the road more weeks than he would care to remember in one years.  He also produces the industry’s most complete collection of instructional videos with a current slate that includes 13 titles with 10 more on the way.


In an ironic twist, Young admits that while he once dreamed of winning flair bartending competitions, now he is more often than not the organizer and must leave the winning up to others.  “I create opportunities rather than participate myself.  I teach, I promote flair, I run competitions and I judge,” he says.  Looking back he remembers trying to find competitions to enter when he was just getting into it ten years ago.


“After a couple of years tending bar I found I was getting bored just pouring standard cocktails.  I saw flair as an opportunity to take the job to the next level but I didn’t know how to get involved.  I decided to take an advanced bartending class at a local Vancouver school.  This proved to be a really disappointing experience.  I paid $425 for the six-week course that only taught three moves and only showed them in the most rudimentary form,” he says, commenting that the course did plant some seeds for thought.


“I went out and picked a partner, Colin Bannon.  The two of us practised moves in my backyard behind two bars I had built for the purpose.  Our goal was to be ready for Vancouver’s Quest for the Best.  We placed third ahead of some of the country’s best.”


“The fact that there was virtually nothing in the way of training or challenges moved me to create www.ExtremeBartending.com ,” he says noting that what events there were at the time did not contribute much to the professional advancement of the craft.  “Mostly they [the competitors] were juggle fests with bartenders rushing to complete their drinks in the last 30 seconds with no attention paid to spillage and presentation.  Today we stress the working aspects of the style.”


An important milestone he suggests would have been the 1992 IBA (International Bartenders’ Association) meeting in Toronto.  There, Young worked alongside Michael Olesen with Absolute Vodka to present what is acknowledged as the first working flair demonstration to a formal IBA body.


“We staged the show in two parts.  In the first segment Michael and I used routines from the movie Cocktail to show flair to that point.  Then we moved in to a 9 ½ minute fully choreographed demonstration of the future of flair.  I think at that point we really set the wheels in motion for the IBA to recognize working flair as a technique worthy of attention.”


Speaking on his philosophy of bartending Young says that he sees bottle flipping as only one component to the total bar service package.


“Flair is a great took, but it’s just a tool.  You can’t overdo it either or it becomes self-defeating.  Don’t be a show-off.  Stay humble,” he says, advising bartenders to keep it simple and remember that it’s all about the customer and doing good business.

Date: April 8th, 2005

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Scott Young, President and Head Instructor Bar Smart Inc.