Shelter Island // 1998 // 450 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dawn Hunt // August 25th, 2013
Serve with style.
Early on, Steve Young, the host and main teacher of the series, cautions viewers this is not a set intended to be watched all in one sitting. And I echo that sentiment wholeheartedly. There are separate parts and I would only watch one at a time for sure. Especially once the actual instruction begins, there are frequent reminders for the viewer to stop the tape and practice, showcasing this is an instructional set before anything else.
But it does strive to be other things as well. One of those is a promotional tool for the host website, which is prominently displayed throughout. Another aspect is biographical, as care is taken to further humanize the bartenders who are demonstrating the few hundred tricks contained within. And finally its entertainment pure and simple as its genuinely fun to watch the bartenders go through their demonstrations.
But Flair Bartending is a set for bartenders, pure and simple. First and foremost, Scott stresses service before flair. It doesn't help if you're caught up in flair and forget you're part of the service industry. There are numerous media spots of the men of extremebartending.com which highlight the group's marketability. There are also goofs left in to show these are just guys doing what they do, not a slick impersonal machine. The meat of the 2-disc set is the copious amounts of instructions, though, as there are well over 200 tricks taught. I like watching the tricks and knowing if I put in the time I'm likely to be able to do some of the stuff shown. However Joe Average is way more likely to spend their money buying more drinks than this set.
Don't let the packaging fool you. The hot girl is not part of the set and is merely an attempt to update the set to current packaging standards. Flair Bartending is an incredibly dated set, shot in 1998. And it betrays its age in both the flat Dolby 2.0 audio and the 1.33:1 aspect ratio transfer which was obviously shot on tape. There's a desaturated palette with hits of green and pink which instantly places the set within the late '90s, and while it doesn't keep the tricks from being demonstrated it's hard not to imagine how much better they could be shown in HD.
There are no special features.
Flair Bartending is first and foremost an instructional aid for bartenders, thus the average viewer won't likely make it through the entire set. Yes, there are easy tricks to learn and fun things to see, but the amount of time necessary to practice and hone these skills means most will stay away. For those bartenders looking to up their level of service and provide a bit of entertainment to their customers, this set is just what the doctor ordered. Sure, the video is dated, but the information isn't. There're plenty of tricks within to learn and Scott Young and team are fun to watch.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shelter Island
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 450 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Not Rated