Tonight: It's a late New Year's celebration for bartenders and DJs at Elixir

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Tonight we have what amounts to "the company party for the people who worked at your company party."

It's the sixth annual Real Bartender's New Years at Elixir Ultralounge on the South Side.

"The point of it is to give service industry people a night to go out and party and enjoy themselves because we're all working the holidays," said organizer Dave Lander. "In fact, we work more while everybody else is off.

"This is our chance to celebrate. The bartenders, the DJs, the managers."

Mr. Lander, who goes by the moniker "Digital Dave" when he's standing behind the turntables, put together the first Real Bartender's New Years in 2007, when he was a manager at Privilege in the Strip District.

The event was a hit as the workers finally got to join the party instead of hosting it. Even after Privilege closed, people were asking Mr. Lander about the next event.

It also proved popular with the liquor companies that seized it as an opportunity to roll out their new products.

"The sponsors feature new and upcoming brands that they're focusing on," Mr. Lander said. "Flavors or rebranding that they're trying to promote. The flavored vodkas and tequilas, the honey whiskey and the Crown Royal Maple.

"One of the cool things that we're doing [tonight] is Red Bull is bringing out three new flavors -- red, which is cranberry; silver, which is lemon-lime; and blue, being blueberry. Those flavors are not yet available in Pittsburgh, but they're going to be available at this event.

"Service industry people like to be the first to try these products because they're the ones behind the bar and people are asking questions about them. So this ends up being win-win for sponsors and the public."

The evening also can be more than a chance for bartenders to catch up with their brethren. It can sort of serve as an alcohol-fueled job fair.

"The service industry in Pittsburgh is very tight-knit and a lot of the bartenders, owners and managers from different neighborhoods know each other and are friends," Mr. Lander said.

"Sure, everyone is in the business to make their own money, but Pittsburgh has a lot of night-life districts, and everybody in those districts knows that people like to go to multiple places at night. So being near each other helps each other. People like to go to an area where there's 10 bars, and they bounce from one to another. The bars feed off each other.

"They're hard-working to do the best they can on their own, but they're not cut-throat. When one bar runs out of something, people always help each other."

And you can't have a party for the service industry people without inviting DJs. Mr. Lander said tonight's event will have 24 of them -- including Bromeo, Nitro, Outtareach and Sean Nice -- each playing a 10-minute set.

"The music ranges from house to hip-hop to rock to '80s," he said. "The music is not the style you would hear all weekend in a club. The service industry people hear that all weekend, so we're looking for music that might be a little more unique."

The Real Bartender's New Years Party usually brings in more than 200 people, even when the weather is nasty.

"Traditionally, it's been held the Monday after New Year's, but this year we decided to do it on a Wednesday because of the national championship [college football] game," Mr. Lander said.

Oh, wait. Did you get the impression that I was talking about a party to which you were not invited? My bad!

Of course, you are welcome. The cover is $15, which should get you some samples of different drinks between 10 p.m. and midnight. Then there's always the cash bar.

But you better be on your best behavior. Nobody hates an obnoxious drunk more than a bartender. And tonight Elixir, at 1500 E. Carson St., is going to be wall-to-wall with them.

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If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it and we'll see if we can get some of our friends to join you. Contact Dan Majors at dmajors@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1456. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/


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