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Bartenders build suspense with tasty tricks - The Red and Black : Variety

Bartenders build suspense with tasty tricks

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Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 2:00 pm | Updated: 5:20 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

Flair bartenders shook what their mama gave them last night.

Manor hosted one of the largest flair bartending competitions in the southeast last night. Skilled bartenders from as far away as Vegas and Nevada flipped bottles, shakers and cocktail tools for the chance to win a prize of $3,000.

Aaron Pierce, general manager at Manor who helped plan the event participated in the first competition, the advanced qualifiers round.

I noticed the song the flair bartenders chose to jam to while impressing the crowd and judges makes all the difference.

"Stuntin’ Like Mufasa" by Lil Wayne got the crowd riled up, but Pierce got the rhythm going and the crowd excited with “Welcome to Atlanta” by Jermaine Dupri featuring Ludacris. Friends, local fans and bartenders couldn’t help but get their phones out and video Pierce. I expect he is already a YouTube sensation.

Although he dropped a few bottles, it didn’t matter — all of the advanced qualifiers did.

Judges based points on how well the flair bartender got the crowd fired up.

After performing throwing tricks and concocting three drinks, he popped open a Smirnoff, got on one knee and pretended like he just got iced. The crowd loved him. It was the perfect finale since Smirnoff flavored vodka was one of its sponsors.

“I just really wanted to put on a show for Athens,” Pierce said.

The drinks made by the flair bartenders were auctioned off to the highest bidder and the money was donated to UGA Heroes. One particular guest bought at least two rounds of drinks and drank them all — but it’s for a good cause so no judgment.

“This being a Tuesday is a good crowd. There is a variety of people you don’t usually see at Manor and it’s a good thing,” Joel Hyder, a bartender at Manor, said.

One of the most entertaining points of the night was learning a few tricks myself.

Holden Mayes, a bartender at Manor who competed on Monday in the Big A-Moves competition at The Bury, invited me behind the bar to teach me how to flip shakers. Let me tell you from personal experience, they make it look a lot easier than it really is.

The second competition was the seven top pro qualifiers, who exceeded my expectations. Their moves were more sophisticated and had far less mistakes. Often, as bottles were juggled in the air, alcohol poured out, but it wasn’t wasted as one pro qualifier, Colby Ashton drank the drops falling out while the bottle was mid-air.

“The pros do this for a living and are really good at what they do,” Pierce said. “I am starstruck when I meet these guys because when you see them on YouTube and then they show up at your bar it’s mind blowing.”

Rodrigo Delpech, winner of 16 Flair Bartending World Championships, went last for the grand finale. He did new tricks and took flair bartending to a whole new level. My jaw dropped to the floor as he juggled four bottles at the same time, flipped a bottle back and forth on his forearm and finished with a tasty cocktail.

Cheers to that.

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