There was almost no way of telling that you were not in America at the annual T.G.I. Friday’s barman competition last Friday night, except that people were smoking. The gaudy hats, funky pins and candy-stripped shirts combined with the smell of hamburgers and fajitas covered up any hint of Russia.
The bar was packed with spectators, Russian and American, who were enthralled with the competition, and cheered on the contestants just like any good audience should. Aided by loud, cheesy American bar tunes, the barmen showed off their remarkable skills. Everyone easily outdid Tom Cruise’s "Cocktail" performance.
The contest took place over two days, but spectators were primarily invited to see the "artistic" competition on June 15. The events of the previous day had focused on technical details. Finicky details, perhaps including skills like understanding the slurred orders of drunken, monolingual customers, or how many shakes go into a vodka martini.
The competitors pulled out all the stops, for the audience as much as the contest. Not only did the bartenders amuse the audience by showing off their acrobatic drink-making abilities, they also told jokes and juggled. Unsurprisingly, the most popular stunts were those involving lewd sexual gestures.
Roman Chernyikin won the competition for his charisma and style. He has now won the right to represent T.G.I. Russia in their European competition that will take place in Oslo, Norway.