DVD Review #3 & A History of Nations

As we continue our series on flair bartending DVD reviews, we thought it would be appropriate to feature the 2008 Nations International Flair Challenge this month. After all, the 2010 Nations is scheduled for August 15-17, at the newly opened Rock & Ritas flair bar inside Circus Circus casino in Las Vegas, NV.

Because we’re always encouraging fans to attend a live competition, this is definitely one to put on your calendar. July and August flights to Las Vegas (within the U.S.) are generally less expensive…and with it being held at Circus Circus, hotel rooms should also be affordable. You’ll likely see some of the most talented flair bartenders in the world at this competition, because of the lineup now working at Rock & Rita’s. To stay up to speed on which competitors will be there (and by division), keep checking the Nations official website.

Mark your calendars and get the plane tickets and hotels booked…it’s looking to be a fantastic competition! We can’t wait to see you there!

A History of Nations
Nations is an internationally known event, organized and run by Jim Allison, President of the Flair Bartending Association (FBA) and Ken Hall, President and Owner of High Spirits Enterprises. Started in 2003 as a smaller budget event at Las Vegas’ Ice House Lounge, this flair bartending competition offers a variety of qualifying rounds such as exhibition flair, speed and pour-testing rounds. This, however, is a unique competition that offers competitors the chance to really showcase their flair bartending skills. Three divisions (or levels) are offered to bartenders, consisting of Amateur (those just getting started), Advanced (those with a few competitions under their belt) and Professional (world famous bartenders).

“The long term goal was to always make Nations an international powerhouse competition focusing only on raw flair,” said Allison.  “This is in contrast to other events like Legends, Quest, and Blue Blazer which all focus on more aspects of bartending than just flair.”

2005 – Nations took place at the trendy Cro-Bar in South Beach Miami. Top bartenders from around the world showed up for the second year of this competition, and had a serious throw down of skill. Christian Delpech took home the grand championship.

2006 – Nations moved back to Las Vegas, but this time at the Club Rio to a capacity crowd.  At this point, Nations became famous for upsets where the underdogs began to step it up and did the unthinkable to become World Champions…Rodrigo Cao was the first to shock the world by achieving this status with his amazing finals round.

2007 – the then unpolished Vladymyr Buryanov came to the main stage on finals night and threw down just enough to topple the unbeatable Christian Delpech.

2008 – the talent showcased at this year’s event was so great that several world champions literally did not make the finals, and yet again another new comer stormed the stage…

Review of The 2008 Nations DVD
Which brings us to our review of the 2008 Nations competition DVD. To sum it up quickly, Poland ruled this particular competition, as they’d been doing that same year in the European scene. Tomek Malek was definitely our favorite round on this video…and the judges agreed. We also enjoyed Justin Keane, who went on to take 3rd overall.

Nations Summary (on back of DVD):
Nine of the greatest flair bartenders on the planet went head to head for over $40,000 in cash and prizes in, what turned out to be one of the most incredible Grand Finals the flair bartending world has ever seen! Round after round, competitors blew the roof off the Ovation Showroom inside the Green Valley Ranch Casino in Las Vegas, NV. Strap in for the most exciting flair DVD ever!!!

Other rounds to watch at the Professional level were Danilo Oribe, Rodrigo Cao, Tom Dyer and Rodrigo Delpech. The lighting on this DVD is awesome, which allows those of us flair groupies to use our “slow” buttons for each of these professionals to see how their moves are being accomplished. Too bad they don’t offer an on-the-screen white marker so we could draw play-by-play diagrams like they do in the NFL.

Some drawbacks to this DVD, though, are that the finals results are not listed anywhere, so after watching each round, it was a bit disappointing in that we couldn’t see who won for each division. We know you want this for your records, so we’ve listed them below for your convenience! You can also find them listed on the FBA website for as long as they archive them. Another annoying issue is not having the flair bartenders’ names listed on each screen. You can hear JD and Chico announcing most of them, but it would be nice to have them on screen during each round. Call us nitpicky, but we also don’t enjoy the opening lime green font on a tie dye background…makes it very difficult to read. The menu options are also pretty limited to: Pros, Advanced & Amateur and Credits. No bloopers, finals results or behind the scenes footage.

Pro Finalists (In Order of Placing):
Grand Champion ($10,000): Tomek Malek (Poland)
2nd Place: Rodrigo Delpech (Argentina)
3rd Place: Justin Keane (U.S.) – also won the Finest Call Stall for $500
4th Place: Tom Dyer (England)
5th Place: Danilo Oribe (Uruguay)
6th Place: Marek Posluszny (Poland)
7th Place: Rodrigo Cao (Argentina)
8th Place: Eiji Narita (Japan)
9th Place: Katsumi Ushiki (Japan)

Advanced Finalists (In Order of Placing):
1st Place ($1,000): Ryan Clark (Canada)
2nd Place: Jacob Mitchetti (U.S.)
3rd Place: Takanori Masuda (Japan)
4th Place: Cruz Gutierrez (U.S.)
5th Place: Masaya Suzuki (Japan)

Amateur Division:
1st Place: Rob Gagne

Add Nations 2008 to Your Library
Overall, we highly recommend having this is your flair DVD collection. Some of Marek’s sequences are plain sick and Tomek has an awesome bump sequence you won’t want to miss! If you’re interested in purchasing this important year of flair history, you can visit the FBA’s online store.

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DVD Review #2: Quest for the Best 2008

Our DVD review series continues by taking a more detailed look into the competitive flair scene. This month’s review is extremely appropriate on timing because we just returned from our trip to this year’s “Quest for the Best” flair bartending competition (Nov. 15-18). It’s the oldest, and also one of the last major competitions in the United States this year.

Although the main subject of this review is looking at last year’s Quest, we have many great memories from this year’s competition. Among them was the opportunity for Kacy to join Christian Delpech and Paul Nguyen as a co-host on FlairLive TV’s live coverage of the 2009 event. Not only was she able to interview all pro competitors right after they came off the finals stage, the unique opportunity allowed Generation Flair to achieve our mission of advocating flair bartending to even more fans. At the end of the night, while having breakfast with Oscar and Christian, we learned the event was viewed in 21 different countries and on over 1,600 unique computers. Oscar estimated that between 3-15 people were watching from each computer as its likely this was an event that was shared.

About Quest
Quest is the oldest flair bartending competition, beginning in 1991 at Pleasure Island in the Manquins Dance Palace. Although the format has gone through several changes over the years, it originally began as a contest to find the best bartender in Disney. Later, it expanded significantly to the rest of the world and quickly became a premier event. To this day, it is still one of the most complete tests of a flair bartender’s skill set. The event gives competitors the opportunity to compete in a speed round, an exhibition flair round, and a specialty round. You can learn more about what each one of these rounds entails by reading “Anatomy of a Flair Competition.”

What’s Special About The 2008 Quest DVD Set
Normally competition DVDs come in singles, but the 2008 Quest DVD set offers Amateur Qualifiers, Advanced Qualifiers, Pro Qualifiers and Pro Finalist disks. You’ll also find some funny shorts with Ben Rose and “McLovin” on the Special Features disk.
One of our favorites is the Team 437 Promo which gives a behind-the-scenes look into how this group gets down to business preparing for speed rounds. Dan Seitz is on record with a 0:53 unadjusted speed round time. The FlairBar.com Show, also hosted by Ben, is jam packed with fun and mayhem. Watch as he takes you on in-depth interviews with the judges and relives some of the many stories remembered, such as AC/DC, chocolate milk, pitchers of Mojitos, Shrek & Donkey and KY Jelly arm wrestling with Chris Cardone!

All fun aside, let’s also not overlook the four disks of insane flair bartending moves. Some of our favorites include Dario Doimo’s behind the back catch to a pour and Rodrigo Delpech’s 19 elbow bumps. You won’t be disappointed by Quest 2008 and the rest of the fantastic finalists:

Pro Finalists (In Order of Placing):
1. Danilo Oribe
2. Rodrigo Delpech
3. Eiji Narita
4. Dario Doimo
5. Rodrigo Cao
6. Oscar Perez
7. Behnam Gerami
8. Giovanni Doimo
9. Sean Story

Give the Gift of Quest

Filmed on location at The Groove Nightclub on City Walk in Orlando Florida and offering over $25,000 in cash and prizes, the Quest World Championships were an event not to be missed. However, if you weren’t able to make it this year, the 2008 DVD set is a great gift idea for the flair bartending fan in your family. Buy it from BarProducts.com, a major sponsor of the event each year.

Flair Bartending DVD Review: “Area 51″

area51If you’re not able to attend a competition, another way you can support flair bartending  is by watching flair DVDs. As part of our mission to educate the masses, we’ll be doing a monthly review of some of the best flair bartending DVDs available.

Most flair bartending DVDs are instructional or competition related. For our first monthly DVD review, we’re featuring a savory production that anyone will enjoy. “Area 51” not only showcases flair bartending at its finest, it gives a real look into the lives of six well-known flair bartenders in Las Vegas: Vache Manoukian, Dario Doimo, Tom Alley, Justin Keane, Behnam Gerami and Vladymyr Buryanov.

Area 51 DVD Trailer / Running time: 103 minutes

A Little Background
The Area 51 team began at the Legends 8 competition as Behnam, Vache, Tom and Justin. Since then, the group has grown to include Vladymyr and Dario who both moved to Las Vegas for (what else?!) flair.

Steve Rad, director, is most well known in the flair world for his work with Christian Delpech’s Working Flair Training Series. However, Rad’s company Infiltration Pictures has a little more history behind it. A graduate of Chapman University, with a BFA in Film/TV (emphasis in writing and directing), Rad won the “Marion Knott” award for Creative Direction in 2002. From twisted thrillers like “Exit Interview,” to mafia-based action films like “Loaded,” his raw and uncensored writing style has brought him to the forefront of screenwriters. Rad is currently working on the feature film “Guys,” that is scheduled to release sometime in 2010, a raw and untold story of how “guys really are.”

Rad’s passion for film definitely comes through in “Area 51” by giving these flair bartenders their much deserved spotlight. We can only imagine how entertaining it must have been to spend this amount of time shooting the best flair bartenders in Las Vegas.

Highlights
Overall, the DVD is organized into chapters by bartender. Each has his own segment of “at work,” “at home,” and “in the garage.” We won’t go into a ton of detail with this review and spoil all the secrets…instead, we’ll give you some highlights:

  • Vache showing off his $1,000 Valentino wallet and Barley the dog’s flair trick
  • Dario, the loveable Italian, only says one word on the entire DVD: “Ciao!” However, his flair speaks for itself.
  • Tom Alley’s personal putting green and his Madden cover story. His advice: “Don’t be on the cover!”
  • Justin Keane shows off his wine collection, “non-plasma” TV and the 15 other “ballerific” items in his house
  • Behnam’s commissioned artwork was neat, but we really loved the 12 name drops. He even sneaks in Kobe Bryant due to his fanaticism for the Lakers.
  • The vast array of trophies Vladymyr and Terri share is quite amazing. We’re disappointed Terri didn’t make the DVD, but Vlad certainly held his own in the garage.

Special Features
Select the “Pure Flair” option to play a looped video of only flair moves, rotating seamlessly from bartender to bartender. This might be especially useful for bars and/or featuring in the background at your next party!

What DVD is complete unless it has a bloopers reel? “Area 51” doesn’t disappoint. Our favorite “Gag Reel” moment was during Tom Alley’s Cribs feature when an unmentionable video was playing on his “really big plasma” TV. We also liked Vladymyr’s first explanation of his kitchen….probably just a language barrier, being pure Ukranian and all. :)

Finally, the original teaser and trailer are also options on the Special Features menu…just in case you missed them before purchasing this unique montage.

How to Get It
To purchase the “Area 51” DVD, visit www.barproducts.com. They’re a huge supporter of flair bartending, so tell them we said “hi.” And, after watching, we encourage you to come back and post your feedback in the comments section.

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