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Bartenders get their game on

Exploading cans, rolling kegs of beer and doing other fancy tricks is not just for fun or work, it's competition.
John Benson
Aug 9, 2013
Every four years the Olympics results in the world’s greatest athletes competing in various games.
On Put-in-Bay, a competition of a different sort finds highly-trained and important folks showing off their thirst-quenching skills in the annual Bartender Olympics, which this year takes place at 7 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Roundhouse.
While Vegas has yet to post odds on this year’s contestants, Funcoast.com decided to talk with Roundhouse Bar General Manager Paula Garsteck about the 30th annual South Bass Island Olympics.
Tell us about this traditional and historic annual event that clearly brings out Put-in-Bay’s best athletes.
The idea is just to get all of the island bars involved in a friendly event, I guess. We have it at The Roundhouse. All the bars are invited. This year’s theme is all bicentennial based, because of the bicentennial that’s going on for the Battle of Lake Erie.
What kind of feats of strength are we talking about?
The first is the written exam like bartender crap. The next competition is a free pour. We tell them how many ounces and they have to free pour it. There’s a parade and skit. It’s clean because there are kids around. Next is the keg roll, which is literally rolling kegs down the street from point A to point B. They’re empty kegs. Then we have what’s called can carry, and it’s how many cans of beer they can move from point A to point B without dropping them. You can stack them up. The record is like 10 or 15 cans. Finally we have the original drink event. This year’s sponsor are Yukon Jack Wicked Hot and Yukon Jack Apple. That has to be incorporated in their drink.
We’re guessing there are plenty of exploading beer cans in the can carry contest.
Oh, yes.
Yuck. So is that the hardest event?
No. I’d say the keg roll because toes and fingers get squished.
So how many bars usually participate in the fun?
Between eight and 10. That’s a quarter of the bars up here and each bar has to have six people.
What’s the purpose of the Bartender Olympics?
It’s just something for the island to come together and for the bartenders and waitresses and staff to participate in a friendly event, I guess.
Is it more for the staff or tourists?
It’s become a crowd-pleaser so I’d say it’s more for the tourists than islanders. It’s just fun with the parade and skit out front. It’s a great island event. People can come cheer on their favorite bar. It’s a good time. For the staff, I’d say it’s 50 percent serious and 50 percent for fun.
What do the winners get?
Bragging rights. Each event gets a first, second and third place plaque.
Have you ever participated in the Bartender Olympics before?
I did, but no more because I have to run it. I have to keep things in line.
For more information, visit online at visitputinbay.com.