Okotoks: Bull Pen hosting competition June 14

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 12:33 pm

Bull Pen bartenders Mike Sands and Josh Penner practice their flair bartending techniques
Bull Pen bartenders Mike Sands and Josh Penner practice their flair bartending techniques

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Bartenders at the Bull Pen Pub will be stepping aside on Saturday to make room for professional flair bartenders who are being brought in to perform and compete for $1,000.

The flair style of bartending involves bottles being juggled through the air combined with balancing and technique that allows them to quickly make their cocktail creations.

Bull Pen owner Twila Louden said she was looking to bring something different in for her summer kickoff party, and had seen flair bartending done before.

“I was at a bar in Vegas where they do flair bartending and I sat there and watched it for four hours,” she said. “It’s absolutely amazing what they can do, they’re so talented, and people in Okotoks are always looking for anything new and different when it comes to nightlife.”

So she called Dave Simpson, who owns The Bartenders Guild, a flair bartending company in Kelowna, and he rounded up a total of six of the best bartenders from Edmonton, Calgary and B.C. who will perform.

“There’s art and creativity of showcasing skills, and it isn’t just the juggling aspect,” he said. “To me that’s amazing talent but that’s not making a drink, and these guys will all have seven minutes to make six drinks, and there’s skill to it.”

The bartenders are judged and docked for any breakage, drops or spills, but once they are finished the drinks are all being auctioned off with proceeds going to Okotoks KidSport charity.

Louden said her own bartenders have been practicing their techniques and have been asking her to take bottles home so they can work on it. Bartenders Josh Penner and Mike Sands started playing with flair bartending a few months ago.

“In April I just picked up an empty Long Island iced tea bottle filled it with water on a slow night and started tossing it around a bit,” Sands said.

While they both admit that they’re rookies, they’re planning on showing off a bit at the event.

“I only have like three moves,” Penner said with a laugh.

“I think we should do it anyway because it’s our home bar just for fun,” Sands added.

They said they’re happy to have the professionals in for a night and are looking forward to watching and learning from them

“It will be an honour. It will be really cool to see how these guys work,” Penner said. “They can probably do this stuff really fast and it will be a good learning experience.”

And they’re hoping that it will help the Bull Pen stand out as something different in Okotoks too.

“After this it will be a bit of a standard here so we’ve got to step it up,” Sands said. “I can’t think of any other place in Okotoks that has something like that, so it would be cool to be the first in Okotoks to have flair bartending.”

The event starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 14, and donations for entry will be collected at the door with proceeds also going to Okotoks KidSport.


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