Three Bar Tricks Involving Napkins

MAGIC TRICKS GENERALLY COME IN KITS, must be specially designed for specific illusions, and are often expensive. Bar tricks — a much more specific genre of trickery — simply involve objects on hand at any local saloon. As an example, complimentary bar matches weren’t originally designed to assist wagering drinkers. In these examples, the humble napkin proves to be useful beyond mopping the sweat from a tall cool one.

Matches, napkins, and other everyday objects are generally discarded without a second thought. At The Bottle Gang, we see greater possibilities in these overlooked objects — we see their potential to do the seemingly impossible, which gives them an edge of store-bought magic tricks. Such pre-fab examples of sleight-of-hand encourage immediate suspicion. Upon seeing a magician link and unlink three metal rings, audiences immediately start suspecting trickery. For this reason, we find the bar trick infinitely more impressive. It seems, for a moment, that something impossible has happened. Magic has been produced with everyday objects — plucked not from a hidden jacket pocket, but right from the bar where anyone could have found them.

Bar tricks have the potential of reaping certain rewards if done well: cash; a phone number; free alcohol. Before sipping a hard-won drink, though, dedicate a toast to the simplicity of the bar trick.


Materials: 1 empty beer bottle, and a small piece of a paper napkin.

The trick: Try to get someone to blow a napkin ball into an empty beer bottle.

How to do it: This trick is based on scientist Daniel Bernoulli’s principle stating that flowing air has less pressure than inert air.

Be sure the neck of the empty beer bottle is dry before attempting this trick. Tear off a small piece of napkin and crumple it into a ball. This ball should be smaller than the bottle opening. Holding the bottle horizontally, place the napkin ball inside so that it rests on the lip of the bottle. Keeping the bottle horizontal, hold the opening up to someone and bet that they cannot blow the napkin into the bottle.

Because of Bernoulli’s principle, the ball will be met with resistance from the air inside the bottle. This will cause the ball to blow back out into the participant’s face every time.


Materials: Dry paper napkin, pencil or pen

The trick: Mark a dot in the middle of a napkin and, without lifting the pencil or pen, draw a circle around the dot. There should be no lines connecting the dot and the circle.

How to do it: Begin by folding in a corner of the napkin to the center of the square. Draw a dot at the napkin’s center, ending with the pen on the tip of the folded corner. Keep the pen on this corner while slowing easing the corner of the napkin away from the dot. At any distance away from the dot, draw a circle. At no point did the pen have to leave the surface of the napkin.


Materials: Linen napkin, utensil such as a fork or spoon

The trick: Blow your nose with such force that it causes a napkin to fly upward in a comical fashion.

How to do it: This is less a bar bet than a bar amusement, but it always seems to get a laugh, so we shall include it. To achieve this stunt, sneeze. Grab a napkin and unfold it to blow your nose. Secret the utensil inside the napkin before bringing the napkin to your nose. At this point, the utensil should be hidden under the napkin. When the napkin is to your nose, you should place the utensil in your mouth in such a way that when you bite, it will cause the utensil to rise upward until it is perpendicular to your face. The napkin will rise as if by a forceful blow. Feel free to make exaggerated blowing noises. Enjoy the surprised expressions of your drinking mates. (MAULT)

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