Want to Be a Flair Bartender? – How to Get Started

Ed HibbertWe get several questions from fellow bartenders and even the occasional corporate cube dweller, who are interested in becoming flair bartenders. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worthwhile if you’re wanting to make more money or possibly a career change. If you’re one of our many readers nodding your head right now, then keep reading. Below, we outline three things that should help you with the goal of becoming a professional flair bartender.

Attend a Competition
If you haven’t been to a flair bartending competition, this is the first, and most important thing you need to accomplish. Not only will you be introduced to the best of the best in this sport, you’ll gain valuable insight on what it takes to achieve professional status. In addition, you’ll meet other flair fans who share your passion.

Although there are many great local competitions, we highly recommend you attend a professional event. This means going to one that is sanctioned by one of the flair associations: Flair Bartending Association (FBA), World Flair Association (WFA), International Bartenders Association (IBA), etc. We’re working on a Google calendar that will feature and keep track of ALL things flair. For now, see any of these websites or visit one of our recent posts here or here to learn about some of the larger competitions.

Not all flair bartenders compete, however, attending a competition will truly open your eyes to the reality of becoming a flair bartender.

Contact a Local Flair Bartender
If you can’t get to a flair competition, the next best thing is to introduce yourself to someone local that can show you the ropes. Chances are you probably already know a flair bartender if you’re reading our blog or have recently watched them work. However, they may not be the best contact you should have if you’re wanting to become a flair bartender. Not every flair bartender enjoys training or mentoring others. Ask about their experience with flair or if they’re a member of one of the flair associations mentioned above. You may also want to know if they’ve competed before, especially if you’re interested in competing.

If you’re having trouble finding the right person to be your mentor or coach, contact us or one of the flair associations. We’ll help locate someone in your area that will give you the best outcome in your training.

Flair Training Classes
The last option to investigate is a professional flair training program. Be careful not to confuse this concept with the myriad of bartending “schools” or “classes” that promise to make you a bartender overnight. Some flair training can be expensive, so be prepared to make an investment in your future depending on your choice with this option. Many flair bartenders will charge you an hourly rate to take their time for coaching and mentoring. Remember, though, this is an investment that will pay larger dividends for you down the road. It’s likely that you will develop a skill that will not only generate more tips, but allow you to become more valuable to a bar owner.

Above all, know that it takes time to develop the skills needed to become a good flair bartender. Be patient and learn everything you can from those who are willing to offer their knowledge. It will take time…even if you’re a seasoned bartender. There will be many broken bottles, pulled muscles and bruises. Therefore, we’d like to end with this very appropriate quote:

“Diamonds are only lumps of coal that stuck to their jobs.” (B.C. Forbes)


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