Still multiplying bottles, after all these years.

Nick Talks about the Multiplying Bottles.

After many requests I have filmed a DVD that really teaches every detail of the classic Ken Brooke Multiplying Martini Routine. I also, of course, includes all my personal insights from 50 years of performing the routine! To purchase the routine go to

I must have been about 1967 when I bought my first set of Multiplying Bottles, and I have performed them on and off ever since. My first set of bottles, were purchased from Ken Brooke and he personally taught me his routine in a series of half-hour lessons in the following months. In many ways it was the first and biggest step I made in becoming a professional magician in those early days. When I bought them Ken told me I would always have a strong closer for my magic show—he was right.

There are very few tricks that create the visual excitement of a nicely performed Multiplying Bottles routine. The fact that they can all be packed away in a small bag and carried without risk of throwing your back out is also a nice selling point. I closed on this trick for many years before putting them into a second to closing spot before my Slow Motion Newspaper Tear. As a trick they have never let me down.

Ken’s routine for the bottles is a work of art. The handling and pacing of the effect, combined with the visibility he created with the placement of the bottles was brilliant. It is just a shame that Ken passed away before he could have had the opportunity to capture his routine on video and all his subtleties would have been captured. However well written a manuscript makes it hard to capture the same level of detail as a video. Maybe I will one day release a video on this trick that contains all the information I have laboriously acquired over the years.

My first half hour lesson from Ken consisted entirely of learning how to pick up a regular glass from the table, toss it in the air with a spin, catch it and then place it back on the table. I spent half an hour practicing this in Ken’s studio until he professed satisfaction at my ability to achieve this seemingly simple act. “Now, you can always let people know that you are working with a real glass,” he said. He was so right—it grounded the handling in a palpable reality.

Later on I shared a half hour lesson with another of Ken’s students who was learning the same portion of the routine. Imagine294 my surprise when I discovered that my fellow student was none other than the great Tommy Cooper! It was a very exciting day indeed and one that I will never forget.

I recently did something I very rarely do I Googled myself and then followed a link to a magic forum that contained a fairly lengthy debate over whose bottle routine was better mine or that of Denny Haney. I had to laugh because with very minor changes and slightly different facial expressions we are both performing Ken’s routine! When you have the best you don’t need to mess with it much.

I personally (on a slightly drunken evening) taught the same routine to Ron Wilson when he developed his “kilt act.” Ron stamped that routine his own by concluding with the production of one of the glasses filled with whisky as the finale of the routine. This incidentally is an idea that Ken would have hated given his reluctance to add loose liquids to his prop table!

I have explored and purchased many sets of bottles over the last 4 decades—different sizes, different designs, different colors. I tried them all but always came back to Ken’s original set. They were beautifully constructed from heavyweight metal and could take a licking and carry on without sticking. They also featured a special series of rims on the interior of the various bottles that made high-speed performance a breeze. The one thing that this trick needs to sell it is rapid-fire presentation—nothing kills the effect more thoroughly than pacing it too slowly.

I have used that same set of bottles I purchased from Ken for well over 40 years and they are still going strong— if a little bruised, chipped and battered. After my show “Comedy Magic” closed in Las Vegas I decided to “retire” the routine for a while. I had performed it twice a day, six days a week, 48 weeks a year for nearly five years. Enough is enough!



~ by Nick Lewin on July 17, 2015.

4 Responses to “Still multiplying bottles, after all these years.”

  1. Great blog, as always. I haven’t seen your routine, Nick, but Ken’s routine had speed and controlled chaos, which to me made all the difference. It also created the impression that the bottles just started popping up and out of nowhere. I’m sure your routine is just as effective. Now if only his performance of the Nemo Rising Cards were on video!

  2. Controlled Chaos! I like that….. Sadly there is no Nemo Rising Card performance video of Ken, that I know off. Boo.

  3. Where , & how , can I purchase the multiplying bottles trick= hope you can help me…

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