Flair Beyond Compare

TGI Friday's pourdown showdown

MON 8/1

In case you haven't been keeping up with the news lately, it's a crazy world we live in. Bad stuff happens, worse stuff follows, and you can't help but hear about it thanks to 24-hour news channels rehashing every little detail of the tragedy. So it's little wonder that, at the end of the day, you go to visit your unofficial best friend -- the bartender. Maybe you know his (or her) name, maybe you don't. Doesn't really matter either way. That tapjockey is there for you with a stiff drink and a semi-interested ear whenever you walk through the door.

The qualities that make a good bartender are intangible, perhaps even esoteric. Mix drinks; know when to ask a question and when to keep quiet; determine when your customer's had enough; and, most important, serve comfort in tiny glasses. Ah, but the qualities that make a great bartender, those are easier to categorize -- at least at the south-county TGI Friday's (5262 South Lindbergh Boulevard; 314-849-4556). The five bartenders on staff (Matt Novotny, Eli Huch, Vern Porter, Ted Fox and Nick Lesinski) go head-to-head to determine who among them is the best. After being independently judged in drink-making, pour accuracy and a speed round, the fearless five throw their bodies and reputations on the line in the deadly Flair Competition (no, not "pieces of flair on uniform" -- although TGI Friday's employees love it when you make that Office Space reference). This is Cocktail-style flair. Bottle juggling, hippy-hippy-shaking, perhaps some martial-arts-style kicks... who knows what stunts these guys will employ to win. Competition begins at 7 p.m. and there's no charge to watch, but donations (cash or check) go to the St. Louis Crisis Nursery (www.crisisnurserykids.com). You know after a full Monday you're going to need a drink, so why not head to Friday's and have it benefit more than just you? -- Paul Friswold

Cop Rock!

SAT 7/30

For five seasons in the early '80s, TV detectives Jerome "Hooch" Hendrickson and David "Daddy-O" Mandlebaum thrilled audiences with their bullet-riddled, streetwise adventures, spawning an animated series and mounds of cheap merchandise. Now the cast is reuniting for a TV movie. No, your memory hasn't been erased by agents of VH1: That's the premise of Hooch and Daddy-O, a St. Louis-produced mockumentary starring various local thespians and a collection of funny wigs. The film screens at 8 p.m. at the Pageant (6161 Delmar Boulevard; 314-726-6161), and Femme Fatality work their electro-rock magic after the movie. Tickets are $10 from the Pageant box office or www.ticketmaster.com. -- Jason Toon

Taps for Sammy

SAT 7/30

The difference between a star and an entertainer is simple: A star is famous for being famous, and an entertainer is famous for being talented. Sammy Davis Jr. was clearly an entertainer, famous for his singing, his acting and, most of all, his tap dancing. Sammy's legacy is celebrated by his widow, Altovise Gore Davis, in a special dance tribute (of course) at All That Tap XIV. The crowning performance of the St. Louis Tap Festival features every style of tap, from jazz to hoofing to modern street dancing, performed by some of the biggest names in the field, such as Robert Reed (pictured, and founder of the event). The show starts at 7 p.m. at the Touhill Performing Arts Center (1 University Boulevard at Natural Bridge Road; 314-516-4949). Tickets are $15 to $25. -- Paul Friswold

Miso Old

THU 7/28

The Clayton scene: parties in the park, power lunches, steaks, wine. But lo! In the midst of this banktastic minihattan sits Miso on Meramec (16 North Meramec Avenue), cool as an abandoned rocket ship and serving some of the best sushi in St. Louis. Has it really been four years since Brad Beracha's baby touched down? Join the pretty people for the fourth anniversary party by calling 314-863-7888 for reservations. Sample chef Hayes Green's pan-Asian delights, then head downstairs where the legendary cocktail lounge -- a converted bowling alley -- waits. DJ Gary Mac spins all night, and the first 150 partygoers go home with free Miso Mix Vol. 2 CDs, chock full of Miso beats. Visit www.misolounge.com for information and pretty pictures. -- Mark Dischinger