Steps 3 & 4 are the final steps in learning how to juggle 3 bottles. Make sure you’ve got Step 1 and Step 2 down already and take your time. If this were easy, everybody would be doing it. But I promise you if you stick with it, and follow the lessons, you’ll be juggling 3 bottles before you know it.
Today’s lesson is Step 2 in our 5-step series that will teach you how to juggle 3 bottles. By now, you should be comfortable with Step 1 – learning how to throw a double across your body. With Step 2, we add the second bottle and work on the throws, catches, and timing.
The most important tips I have for learning Step 2 in juggling bottles:
• Make sure you are incredibly comfortable and consistent with Step 1. You should be able to consistently throw a double-spin, from right to left AND left to right at least 50 times in a row before you attempt Step 2. The height should be consistent, the rotation should be consistent, and you shouldn’t be reaching out for the bottle – it should be landing right in your hand. Step 1 is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of learning to juggle 3 bottles.
• When you’re ready to add the 2nd bottle, grip one firmly by the neck in each hand. Toss the first one exactly as you’ve been doing in Step 1. As the bottle hits it’s peak (the highest point of its arc), throw the other bottle just as you’ve been doing in Step 1, making sure it is slightly inside/under the bottle in the air.
• In order to avoid the bottles crashing into each other in mid-air, focus on throwing the 2nd bottle from a position slightly closer to the center of your body. Watch the video and look at my elbows as I juggle – they are constantly rotating in small circles. The catches are slightly to the outside (away from my body) and the throws are slightly to the inside (closer to my body).
• Don’t watch your hands; watch the bottles. Specifically, you should be watching the top portion of the path the bottles take when they fly through the air. Your eyes should be looking about 1 foot in front of you and almost 1 foot up.
• If you’re getting frustrated, try throwing the bottles and purposely drop them. As juggler’s say, “get a good throw and the catches will come.” So focus on your throws. Throw the first bottle, then the second bottle, and let both of them fall. Stand over your bed or a sofa so you can easily pick them up. Repeat this frequently. It will help you to improve your throws, learn the timing, and reduce your anxiety of the bottles getting away from you.
• The most common problem people have when they start juggling bottles at this step is keeping the throws from getting away from them. Usually, the 2nd bottle goes flying 5 feet away from you because you’re not used to spreading your focus between two objects. That’s cool; it’s part of the process. The goal – which you will achieve if you follow the video and the tips I’ve provided – is for each bottle to travel the same consistent path, equally high, equally far away, equally spinning, and caught in the same place every time.
• Try this drill: with a bottle in each hand, throw with your right hand first, then left. Once you catch them, begin throwing with your left hand first, then right. Continue going back and forth, starting with the opposite hand each time. This can be very difficult but is necessary and will help you smooth out your pattern.
• Once you are comfortable with the drill I mentioned in the previous bullet point, your goal is to perform this drill without pausing. As soon as you catch the first bottle, your arm dips a little while catching it, then launches its throw again quickly. When you do this properly, the bottles will “chase” each other and you will begin to understand the timing of where the 3rd bottle will go. In the video, you can see my open hand waving in the time/place where the 3rd bottle goes.
First things first: THIS IS A VERY DANGEROUS MOVE. The tips I give are meant to decrease the likelihood of you hurting yourself while trying this move, but there is no guarantee. Attempt at your own risk.
The Chin Stack is one of my all-time favorite flair bartending moves. It doesn’t get more eye-catching. Crowds love this one.
Obviously, this is exhibition flair. It works best at the end of a flair show or competition.
Before you even think about going for the full Chin Stack, it’s absolutely necessary to learn the basic mechanics of being able to balance things on your face. The first thing you need to do is find two bottles, preferably tall bottles (like Grey Goose, Belvedere, Galliano, etc.). Use duct tape or packaging tape to tape the bottles together, end to end. This will be the tool you use to learn the balance.
Let’s talk about what part of your face you want to use. I’m a fan of the divot between your chin and lower, hands down. I’ve seen some flair bartenders use their upper lip or their forehead. If that’s your style, fair enough, but I find the spot just above your chin has a natural curve that fits the mouth of a bottle almost perfectly, making it much easier – and less painful – to balance.
To begin learning the balance, take your two taped bottles and place the mouth of one on your chin just below your bottom lip. Spread your feet into a wide stance. Squat a little bit. Tilt your head all the way back – while holding the bottles to your chin – until the bottles are perpendicular to the ground. Focus your eyes on the very top of the top bottle: this is the spot you concentrate on to gauge what direction the stack is moving and – more importantly – how & where you need to move your head to counterbalance the movement of the stack.
The goal here is baby steps. Use the above method to try and hold the bottle stack on your chin for 2 seconds. ALWAYS control the bottle so that it falls comfortably into your hands. Never let it get away from you or fall toward your face. Once you can comfortably do this for 2 seconds, try for 4. Then 6. Then 8, then 10 seconds. Eventually, after a few days or weeks, you will be able to balance these two taped bottles on your chin for 30 seconds or longer.
Once you’re comfortable with the mechanics of balancing the taped bottles on your chin for at least 30 seconds, it’s time to try something even more flashy: cocktails stacked on bottles. Very important tips for trying this:
1) Pour the cocktails in the plastic cups, not glass. Not only will they weigh less and be easier to manage, if or when you drop this, it’s one less thing to break. Use different colored liquids (Cranberry, Sprite, Midori, Blue Curacao, Pineapple Juice, etc.) to make the stack more eye-catching.
2) Use empty square bottles for the layers in your stack. I like to use Jose Cuervo bottles, Bombay Sapphire, or Jagermeister bottles, but find what works best for you.
3) In order to create friction and minimize the risk of slipping, use slightly wet napkins in between each layer. The general rule is this: anytime one object is touching another, there should be a damp napkin in between them. The last thing you want is glass sliding around while it’s up on your face.
4) Use a long bottle (Ketel One, Belvedere, etc.) as the anchor for the stack. If you’ve been following along and practicing, you’ll already be comfortable with how this bottle sits on your chin; in theory, all you’re doing is changing the stuff that’s stacked on top of it.
Go easy. This is an incredibly dangerous flair move. Taking baby steps and precautions along the way will help minimize your risk of injury.
This week’s flair lesson is a twist to the ending of last week’s flair lesson. We’re essentially adding a smooth little double behind the back to add some flash to the pour.
This move makes a nice combo of some previous lessons and is a great little exhibition sequence. As I explain in the video, you can finish with the Pour/Cut that we recently learned or finish with a number of different ways. Play around with it until you find a method you like and make it your own.
Wow, that is a mouthful of a name for this move. If you’ve been following along with the lessons so far, we are synthesizing a few previous moves and adding one new one to create a nice little mini-routine. Make sure you know the Arm Roll Down and the Pour Cut already.
To put this sequence together, the new move we are learning involves throwing the bottle in a double spin across your body and catching the bottle right side up. The slightly tricky part is that the grip we are doing it with is the grip you have on the bottle/tin at the end of the Arm Roll Down. Practice just this double throw a bunch of times, then see if you can put the whole routine together.
Also, as with all moves – especially exhibition flair moves – be sure to learn the move with an empty bottle or a FlairCo bottle. Once you are comfortable with the move, then add a few ounces of water and practice it again until you can do it without spilling.
Get on it, cuz we’re going to add a new ending on to this to make another routine very soon.