World Flair Bartender Feature: Atilla Iskifoglu

We’re venturing to Europe once more for our latest world flair bartender feature to take a look into the flair of Atilla Iskifoglu…we bet you can’t say his last name three times fast!

This Turkey native is definitely one to watch in the upcoming year!

Performer Turned Flair Bartender
Beginning a career as a singer and performer, Atilla is no stranger to the stage. We believe this is likely why he’s so comfortable and fun to watch at competitions. He started flairing professionally in 2000 by competing and traveling internationally to teach flair bartending and mixology. His influence is certainly apparent. Over 800 bartenders in 15 different countries have had the privilege of learning and working with this talented professional.

“Atilla has influenced and inspired thousands of flair bartenders with his unique style, tricks and passion for flair bartending,” said Christian Delpech, former World Champion flair bartender and co-host of FlairLive TV. “The way he performs on stage, his interaction with the crowd, showmanship and ability of taking flair to a different level make him a ‘one of a kind’ flair bartender.”

Obviously a trailblazer, he is one of the first flair bartenders to choreograph his moves to music and one of the first people in Europe to embrace three- and four-object flair. Most European flair bartenders at the time he started had only done two object flair.

We were curious to know if Atilla had any flair bartenders who he really admired.

“I love many styles because they have all been created with different minds,” he said. “I like Sylvan for his creativity; Danilo [Oribe] for his smoothness; Rodrigo [Delpech] for his difficulty; Vladymyr [Buryanov] because he’s fun to watch and entertaining; and Dario [Doimo] for his many linked moves.”

Competitive Achievements
He has competed in over 36 flair competitions and has won over 80% of them, including the honor of earning the 4-time European Flair Champion title. Atilla is most proud, though, of winning the 2001 Roadhouse World Open because it was his first international competition. He later took second in the Roadhouse finals that year, making him second in the world at that time. Quite an accomplishment for a beginning competitor!

He is also grateful for being a 2009 Flair Battle Rome finalist as this is where he was able to execute some of his hardest moves in a competition. You can watch the video from that competition here:

“Atilla has an impressive resume of competition placement over the past decade…and we expect to see him place very well among the top competitors in the world,” said Ken Hall, President of High Spirits Enterprises, former world champion flair bartender and trainer for Walt Disney World and Harrah’s Entertainment.

Attracting the Attention of World Media
With his long list of accomplishments and dedication to training other bartenders, it’s not a surprise that the media took an interest in Atilla as well.

After competing on the TV show Britain’s Got Talent and making it through three rounds, he definitely became the center of attention in the European media. He has appeared on the BBC, ITV twice and served/performed with celebrities such as Madonna and John Travolta.

Below are a few clips of his media appearances.

Britain’s Got Talent:

BBC Video:

Compilation of various interviews & media footage:

Cocktail Masters
On top of his successful competitive career, Atilla is also well known in England for owning and promoting his company, Cocktail Masters.

“Not many people appreciate flair bartending in England,” he said. “Because of this, I decided to organise my own company that would offer cocktail parties for the people who really love flair.”

That strategy worked. In less than six months, Atilla organized more than 100 flair events.

“With Cocktail Masters, I was finally able to cater to the people who actually enjoy watching flair,” he said.

However, due to his move to the U.S., Atilla is planning to temporarily shut down the successful event company so he can focus on practicing, competing and working in the U.S.

“In the future, I am definitely thinking of making Cocktail Masters a bigger and better business, so stay tuned,” he said.

Where You Can Find Atilla in 2010
Selected as one of the few flair bartenders to work at Las Vegas’ newest flair bar, Rock & Rita’s inside Circus Circus casino, Atilla is excited to move and work full time in America.

When asked about making the cut after auditions, he said, “I felt so happy and excited, this is the dream of many flair bartenders. And for me, this is a new beginning.”

Rock & Rita’s interview – FlairLive TV (interview is 5:00 minutes into video):

Rock ‘n Rita’s is scheduled to open in June with some of the best flair bartenders known in the industry. To learn more or to schedule your visit, go to http://www.circuscircus.com/dining/rock-rita.aspx.

Atilla’s Dream: Reaching New Heights for Flair

Passion is a word commonly used to describe a professional flair bartender’s interest in flair. However, the word doesn’t do justice to Atilla’s definition of what he feels for flair bartending as a sport…

When I perform flair, it makes me happier than anything else. All I see are my hands…and when I practice bottles and shakers are all I see. The music is all I hear, while the surroundings behind and around me completely disappear. Flair takes me to another world where I can actually feel the high and all the excitement under my skin. It’s something that I could never quit…I can say for me, it’s a lot like making love.

He continued to describe his personal goals for himself which included reaching to the highest flair level possible.

“I want to bring a new vision to flair bartending and create new, original styles. My aim is to practice as hard as I can to achieve this.”

With practicing nearly seven hours each day, we believe Atilla is well within reach of his flair dreams.

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Zero Gravity Competitor Interviews – Omaha’s 2010 Flair Competition

We met with Josh Briggs of Bar Entertainment Specialists, Chris Bridges and a few others at the recent Zero Gravity flair bartending competition in Omaha, Nebraska this month.

Below are the video interviews from that trip. We loved what each flair bartender had to say about flair bartending as a sport and its potential for growth.

Be sure to subscribe to the Generation Flair RSS alerts (enter your email address in the Subscription box at the top of this page) to receive our blog posts via e-mail each month.

Pro Flair Bartender Feature: Gianluigi Bosco

The new Italian on the U.S. flair scene, Gianluigi Bosco, is certainly making a name for himself this year. We sat down with Gianluigi in Las Vegas to learn more about his secret to flair success.

Newest Gig: Becoming a Flair Bartender at Rock ‘N Ritas
Selected as one of the few flair bartenders to work at Las Vegas’ newest flair bar, Rock ‘n Ritas inside Circus Circus casino, Gianluigi is excited to work full time in the U.S.

“My dad is not very happy about it, because I’ll be far away from the family. But my mother is very happy as are my brothers and sister,” he said, smiling.

When asked about making the cut after auditions, you could see the pride and excitement in his face as he described what we all know as true career success. “I was very happy,” he said. “You know, as a flair bartender, you always think, what’s my goal? This was it for me…to be able to work in the U.S. and for a bar that is going to change the scene for flair bartenders.”

Rock ‘n Ritas is scheduled to open June 2010 with some of the best flair bartenders known in the industry. To learn more or to schedule your visit, go to http://www.circuscircus.com/dining/rock-rita.aspx.

Getting Started, “Bosco” Style
Gianluigi’s story of how he got into flair bartending is a fairly typical one if judged from the average flair fan. However, the success he’s had in such a short amount of time is nothing short of spectacular.

“I started out in the service industry as a waiter in Lecco, Italy in 2002,” he said. “It was a second job, actually, that I took to earn some extra money. I saw the bartenders working and I had become a bit bored with what I was doing, so I started training to become a bartender.”

Shortly after he completed his training, an opportunity opened up in Spain for a season. However, he ended up staying for a year and a half. This was his first experience working in a flair bar. “I then took a job in a restaurant, where I became the head bartender and after a short stay there, I decided to move to another country to learn another language.”

By the way, he’s fluent in four languages.

“In 2006, I moved to Paris, a much larger city, where I learned French and met Rafael Arce (better known in the flair world as Rafa),” he said. “This is really where I started to practice properly by going to the Bar Academy every Wednesday. They open a really nice space to practice flair for anyone who’d like to come and do that.”

This is really where Gianluigi became serious about flair bartending. “I learned that I had some raw talent for flair, so I started to learn how to compete and practiced every day,” he said. “That year, I did three competitions, and although they weren’t very good, I continued to work hard and in 2007, I went to Roadhouse and made the finals for the first time.”

Since then, Gianluigi’s momentum has continued to flourish. Not only did he win the IBA World Championship, he also tacked on first place at all of the following: Warsaw Flair Challenge (Warsaw), Roadhouse UK Challenge (London), Que Pasa Flair Challenge (Chelmsford), Bols Master Battle (Berlin), Underground Flair League (Amsterdam), Elite Flair Comp (Orlando, FL), and World Online Flair Contest. At Legends XII, he took second place, just after Danilo Oribe and was honored with the FBA’s 2009 “World Traveler” award. This award was given to him for attending and competing in 35 competitions last year in 12 countries.

Now that’s a dedicated (and successful) flair bartender!

We wondered if the increase in competitions is what created some of his success. “Yeah, of course,” he admitted. “Because my biggest problem was stage presence and being in front of so many people while competing. I always felt uncomfortable. So, the amount of competitions have allowed me to get used to that and overcome that fear.”

Gianluigi is well known on the European scene, but he’s recently become more active in the U.S. We wondered if he favored one country over the other as far as competitions are concerned.

“Flair is really different in America,” he said. “The FBA Pro Tour is very good and very professional. They care about the drinks, how you make them, your show, etc. In Europe, it’s all about flair…not so much about the drinks, but I like both styles equally well. They’re just different.”

What he really likes about Europe is the variety of talent and skill across all flair bartender levels. “There’s closer skill levels in the top competitors in Europe along with a wider variety of styles and flair moves,” he said. “In the U.S., there are some well known guys, but a big gap exists between the Pro and Amateur levels..I think mainly because right now there are more flair bartenders in Europe.”

Where is Flair Headed?
It’s always important to look at the trends of any up and coming sport. Flair bartending is no exception and we were curious if Gianluigi felt the same. So we asked him where he thought flair might be going in the future.

“It’s getting really big,” he said. “In the states, it used to be very big, but last year there weren’t as many competitions. Europe hasn’t seen the recession, so last year Europe was better for competitions than here…which is why I had some doubts about moving here.”

He also mentioned one of our favorite flair media outlets, FlairLive TV. “It’s new and something good for our sport,” he said. “Finally, we have some high quality footage of the professional guys doing flair. You know, there are loads of flair videos out there, but most are not high quality. I would love to see FlairLive TV explode and give the sport the more professional look it deserves.”

We couldn’t agree more, and certainly think Oscar Perez and his team are well on their way to making this happen.

Flair is a Way of Life
Gianluigi is one of the more passionate flair bartenders we’ve met. It’s obvious that combining his talent and dedication to working hard, he’s going to go even further in 2010. “Flair has been a way of life for me for the last two years. I love the traveling and meeting new people from all over the world,” he said. “Truthfully, If it wasn’t for flair, I’d probably still be in a crappy bar in Italy. It’s added passion, it’s life for me now.”

To learn more about Gianluigi Bosco, you can visit him on his Facebook page, become a fan of his group “Flair Competition Results” or see him at the next big flair competition.

Be sure to subscribe to the Generation Flair alerts (enter your email address in the Subscription box at the top of this page) to receive our blog posts via e-mail each month.

Interview with Captain Boogie: Eric Holbert’s Flair Story

Best known in the world of flair bartending as “Captain Boogie,” Eric Holbert is the classic story of how an average bartender began living an above average life by becoming involved with this popular sport. We sat down with Boogie in Orlando at a recent competition to get the full story of how this Vegas-native got into flair.

Origination of the Nickname
GF: “Your nickname is ‘Captain Boogie,’ how’d you get it?”
B: “I got that nickname from Todd Connell at the first competition I ever did, which was Quest for the Best in 1998 at Pleasure Island. It was actually the second year I got into flair and it’s also where I met Ken Hall, Alan Mays and everyone else who’s important in this industry. I was at the registration table to sign up and Todd asked what nickname I wanted. Me being nervous since it was my first competition, just said, ‘Whatever you want.’ Todd said, ‘Give me a nickname or I’ll give you one.’ I said ‘Yeah, whatever,’ and left.”

“During the first flair round, JD Spradlin was announcing me on stage and said ‘This is Eric “Captain Boogie” Holbert, who works at the VooDoo Lounge in Las Vegas!’ I looked down at the judges table and everyone was laughing hysterically. I thought, oh great I’m already nervous and they’re pulling pranks! This is where the nickname originally started.”

“I did my round and overall finished 16th. But, this is when the competitions didn’t have divisions. So, I was up against hard core pros and veterans. I was very happy about that placing!”

“Anyway, the year after, they broke out into divisions. I qualified 4th in the Rookie division. In the final round, I did a whole car wash routine; on roller skates and finished first! When I did that routine and won, (as well as took Best in Show overall), the name stuck. There was no way it was leaving at that point. It was given to me so I just went with it.”

GF: “Even your Kahunaville promo video features your nickname and this theme.”
B: “Yes, the “Captain” was dropped so now it’s just Boogie. I don’t mind it whatsoever.”

Boogie’s Affair with Flair
GF: “When did you start flairing and why?”
B: “Actually, I thought flair was kinda stupid at first. But I’d been around it quite a bit due to living in Las Vegas and having been a bartender for quite awhile. Ken Hall more or less pushed me into doing flair…he kept pushing me to do more tricks and moves and then finally recommended I compete at Quest. So I went and tried. He mentored me, showed me the format of the comp, how to prepare and what to do. The rest is history.”

GF: “You work full time at Kahunaville, but do you have any other jobs?”
B: “Yes. I also have a part-time job at Red Rock Station Casino, which is a fairly high end casino. Oscar Perez works with me as well. We work a lot together. Carolina, Christian Delpech’s wife, also works there. So I’m surrounded by some other great flair bartenders and I love that.”

GF: “You’re an official judge for the FBA, tell us a little bit about that.”
B: “I’ve been an official judge for nearly seven years now. Over the last three years, I’ve been a Master Judge for the FBA. I’m also an elite judge for WFA. I’m one of the only people that judges for both organizations and I really enjoy it. I’ve traveled the world and have met some great people as a result.”

GF: “While we’re on the topic, a lot of our readers want to know the difference between the WFA and the FBA…can you explain?”
B: “Judging standards are different within each organization, but mostly it’s similar for criteria on how the bartenders compete. The WFA is based in Europe and does a lot of advocating for flair there. The FBA is the older organization and is based in the U.S. Competitions are geared toward being a better bartender, which is good. The WFA also has more country access. It’s not a big deal to travel from one country to the next there. So, it gives flair bartending some great exposure to new cultures, languages, etc.”

GF: “The WFA is really creating a presence in Europe. Do you see yourself going over there a lot?
B: “This year, I took a rest, but last year I visited 10 countries. So yeah, they are creating more of a market for what’s going on and I hope to continue to be a part of it.”

GF: “What about the IBA?”
B: “The IBA is very strict on drink making, it’s more about mixology and protecting the bartending craft. They have an older management that advocates old school bartending, you know, the 1940s ways of how you make drinks. I think this is great, because you don’t see that anymore.”

GF: “When did you decide to do judging more than competing?”
B: “Age kicked in. Christian Delpech & I did a flair competition in Korea and I realized I wasn’t physically OR mentally ready. I couldn’t keep up with the level. I felt then it was time to retire from competitions, so now I focus on judging which allows me to keep up with flair in a different way.”

“I competed for nearly six years, which might not seem like a long time. But you have to remember, I started when I was 32, so in six years, I was 38…and it was time to slow down. Dario (Doimo) was 17 when he started; (Rodrigo) Cao and (Rodrigo) Delpech started when they were really young and they’re still going. For me, I started late and did the best I could do in that amount of time.”

GF: “What made you fall in love with flair?”
B: “It was the fact that when I was on stage, I got an energy level from the crowd that’s indescribable…it’s hard to explain. You know, I’ve always been an entertainer (I used to do street dancing and such). It’s just a whole other aspect of bartending that is really cool.”

GF: “Do you still have the same level of passion you did?”
B: “I do, but I don’t have the physical need to get up and practice like the younger guys. However, my true passion for flair is definitely still there. It’s what gets me up in the morning or should I say late afternoon?”

GF: “You’ve been at this a long time, you know all the tricks, the one-liners and you’ve looked behind the proverbial ‘curtain.’ Do you ever get tired of it? I mean, is bartending ever going to wear you out? In other words, are you doing it just for the money at this point?”
B: “Bartending is not a career for me, I do a lot of other things in my life people don’t know about. I love photography, rock climbing, cave exploration and I’m looking into going back to school to study Geology. I can always fall back on bartending if I need to. I’ve thought about starting up a travel website, but I don’t know. I’m just exploring and I haven’t really committed to anything new. I’m content with everything I’m doing right now…it’s probably why I’m single because I’m so busy with all of it!”

“Ultimately, I love bartending; I’ve been doing it for 22 years now. Mostly, I enjoy how flair allows me to interact and bond more quickly with customers…which means everyone has a great time and as a result, I make a good living.”

Flair Bartending & Major Media Appearances
GF: “You’ve been on A&E, Food Network & Travel Channel specials for flair bartending as well as the MTV’s Real World. As a sport we’re gaining even more momentum and exposure with two new reality shows in the works, FlairLive TV’s new site and a larger European scene than ever before. What kind of future do you see for flair?”
B: “We need something to happen. It’s there, but it’s still underground for the industry. Like poker, nobody really knew poker until the World Series of Poker became a big name. We’ve had specials, and now one reality show that’s been piloted. I still have no idea when that’s going to come out. But, hopefully something like that will allow us to really launch flair in a big way.”

“I’m also starting to see a new trend with some competitors who don’t want to compete as much anymore like Vache Manoukian and Justin Keane. They still have that mindset for being on stage, so I think more entertainment pieces will be surfacing…like flair bartending performances.”

GF: “We were just in Vegas last summer and witnessed quite a few Kahunaville stage performances, or “structured competitions.”
B: “They’re constant and Kahunaville is one of the most competitive flair bars in the world. Nobody does it as much as we do. There are three shows a night and every bartender who works there has to be a flair bartender. The crowds love it.”

GF: “It feels like there’s this ground swell. You’re right, FlairLive TV is huge and will do a lot for helping the sport to explode.”
B: “Yes, the interest is there, but it’s still underground…we’re worldwide, but in reality, it’s still in the beverage industry even though we’ve had a lot of major media exposure.”

GF: “Generation Flair is all about educating people outside of our industry about what flair bartending is and why we’re working so hard to make it an alternative sport with full-time media coverage. What information can you give fans or people interested in learning more about flair and how to contribute in boosting its popularity?”
B: “Flair bartending is something you have to want…it’s a passion. For those who are interested, the first thing you need to do is go to some competitions…the small and big ones. It’s where you’ll really get to feel the excitement of what we do. In the meantime, visit the websites, watch FlairLive TV, buy flair videos and support these different businesses with your patronage and comments.”

An Interview with Hayden “Woody” Wood: On Tour with Guy Fieri

At Generation Flair, we focus primarily on the competitive side of flair bartending. After all, our main goal is to help attract a mainstream network, like ESPN, to this growing sport. However, a new concept has started to emerge that works well for increasing exposure for flair bartending in the U.S. After scoring some free tickets (thanks Jason!) to the Guy Fieri Roadshow at the Midland Theatre, we had the opportunity to sit down with Hayden Wood (a.k.a. “Woody”) after the show to better understand what his flair skills were all about.

What is the Guy Fieri Roadshow?
The Guy Fieri Roadshow recipe is simple. Take an Australian flair bartender, known for his mixology and wine books, add Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri, mix in a DJ with some badass rock and roll vinyl skills and blend. Take this mixture, and bring several thousand people to a boil for an hour and 45 minutes, add a dash of crazy stories, a few tour buses and you’re set up with a 30-day, 22 city cooking tour that’s sweeping the country. Guy Fieri, the star behind “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” bills this as “Food, rock n’ roll, and everything they won’t let me do on TV!”

November was the kick-off month for this very alternative idea in cooking demonstrations, backed by the Food Network and all its glory. Woody is the opening act for Fieri and gives the audience a simple and unique flair bartending show while creating several cocktails for a few lucky audience members to enjoy. We watched as he performed simple, but crowd pleasing flair moves such as waterfall pours, behind-the-back flips to a stall and a bottle-tin routine…all while running frantically back and forth across the stage attending to his VIP tables (who were on stage for a pricier ticket than we were allowed). Although this wasn’t our favorite type of flair, it did have a large appeal to those who attended, leaving most with a smile and likely a hangover the next morning.

This is where Woody’s Liquid Kitchen is making enormous headway for flair bartending. By connecting with the masses, he’s effectively giving a great show (albeit not the competitive side) to a wide variety of consumers who may or may not ever go to a bar or a flair bartending competition. He’s out there, promoting flair bartending in a way that a large group of people can connect with. For that, we are truly inspired and grateful for his contribution.

Hayden Woody WoodWho is Hayden Wood?
He insisted we call him Woody, as “Hayden” was only something he was called when in trouble. Our first impression of Woody was someone who was “on” all the time. He was constantly smiling, cracking jokes and interacting with his fans as he signed books and jumped in front of the camera for a photo…a natural entertainer.

Woody is the youngest of three boys and mixed his first drink when he was eight years old…at a New Year’s Eve party on his parents’ Australian farm. That was his first attempt at mixology. Although it was a negative experience to his taste buds, he continued to experiment with the fermentation process and flavors from foods like pumpkin, rice, potatoes, split peas, rhubarb and orange peels. We were interested in what spurred this curiosity at such a young age, and his response was his farm upbringing.

“You know, if you’re raised on a farm, you’re taught to do everything for yourself,” he said. “I read books, I practiced and eventually a 50-gallon drum and a cheese cloth produced a fairly decent 190 proof alcohol that could be mixed with gin, Southern Comfort and Orange Soda Stream.”

By the time he was 15, this concoction became known as his own private label called the “Eagle Rock Experience,” which he sold at parties for a nice profit. Shortly thereafter, New Zealand’s king of cocktail parties was born.

Finding Flair
About 20 years ago, Woody met Beagle Rogers, head bartender & manager of Rumors in London, the sister club to Studio 54. Rogers moved to Australia in the late ‘80s to recover from a “certain” addiction and opened a place called the Iron Pot Cafe. Woody told us he was inspired by Rogers’ flair skills, and constantly asked him for a job so he could learn. With Woody only being 16, Rogers brushed him off several times.

“I was inspired by him, after all he was an amazing flair bartender,” he said. “It was mostly one bottle, but it was tongs, ice, bouncing things off the walls, you know…this was like ’89. And he was taught by the Greeks to do entertainment bartending. He had true heritage sort of flair. Without a doubt, I thought it was an exciting thought to become someone like that.”

Woody was persistent in his quest to get closer to Rogers.

“I bought him cheese, and biscuits, and all kinds of things for about six months trying to gain his approval,” Woody said. “I guess he got sick of me asking, because finally he gave me an ultimatum: ‘If you can find three things wrong behind this bar you can have a job…’ I found four things wrong,” Woody said. Rogers responded with, “Alright smart ass, see ya later!” 

Rogers promptly walked out of the bar at that moment, and left the naive 16 year-old to run a high end cocktail bar for the night. Woody told us it wasn’t much fun. He had no idea how to make anything people were requesting. After all, the place had been written about in Time magazine only six months before so they weren’t your normal Jack & Coke requests.

“That first night was awful, but he kept me on for another 3-4 months, without pay,” Woody said. “I learned a lot.”

Bartending to Travel
A few years later, Woody left Australia for Europe to gain experience in any bar that would hire him. His first stop was the UK to work in the London/Manchester area. Then he landed a job in Turkey and continued working there for awhile.

“I taught a lot of the flair to myself, but after Europe and middle east, I met up with a guy in Manchester,” he said. “I lived in a 13-room flat with a bar downstairs and we all lived upstairs. You never left the building. It was absolute chaos, but that’s where I learned American style flair bartending.”

One day he found himself on a refugee boat from Odessa to Israel. He then decided to work in Israel for a year to save some money. Since that wasn’t enough traveling for Woody’s tastes, he quickly found himself using his engineering background to build hot houses in Egypt and all the way to Sudan.

“There’s only so much city you can take before you realize you need a complete contrast,” he said. “I wanted to know how the rest of the world lived.”

Woody continued to fascinate us as we talked through the rest of the evening. We asked him if it was really hard to be on tour since he’s away from his wife and 2-year old son. He responded quite passionately with a statement we think all of us should take to heart.

“Of course I miss my family, but being on tour is easy. On tour, you’re treated like a demigod. There is nothing hard about this. You lie down in a bus and you go to sleep, or you watch a movie, or you eat food or you drink water. If you’re in this capacity you’re one of the top 1% wealthy people in the world. If you are in a slum, and you do not have any money and you can’t find food…you have something to complain about. So I find people who complain about things particularly hard to deal with,” he said.

We asked Woody what his goal was for Liquid Kitchen and the Guy Fieri Roadshow. He responded, “You go on this kind of journey for a number of reasons…for some people, it’s for the money, but mostly it’s for the exposure.”

We couldn’t agree more. This tour will be able to give Woody the exposure in the U.S. he’s been desiring. From a business standpoint, he’ll be able to create a passive income stream that will hopefully continue long after his tour has ended.

Most bartenders have to go to work in order to earn money. Woody can earn money in his sleep by selling books and tickets online. It’s all about diversification. Guy Fieri is no different – most chefs start and own a restaurant or two. But with this business model, Fieri is creating a branded empire of book sales, a TV series on the Food Network, ticket sales and his new, custom-designed kitchen utensils. The list is endless, but it all centers around his passion for cooking and food.

“The popular chefs now are coming into our homes on these TV shows…I’m trying to do the same in the bartender role,” Woody said.

“It’s a means to project a form of entertainment for something I’m particularly passionate about. It’s the same message as Guy has…we both agree that in America, people have lost their sense of cooking…the function of the kitchen. When convenience food came around, along with the microwave, cooking became boring and unnatural.”

Woody’s World Today
Although he’s a household name in Australia, known for his mixology books and teaching people how to mix their own drinks and distill their own liqueur, Woody has a unique situation. “I’ve alienated myself from the traditional bar scene. I’m more passionate about teaching people to mix drinks in their own kitchen…that’s more rewarding for me,” he said.

And he’s true to his passion, with eight books available for sale, Woody continues to polish his skills as an author, mixology educator and overall entertainer. His hard work is starting to pay off. One of his books claims to be the largest selling mixed drinks/wine book in Australia with eight reprints to its name. But Woody is still humble about his growing success.

“We’re just under 100,000 units, and it’s great…but that’s six years of printing books and working to sell them, while Guy Fieri did 400,000 on his first print,” he said. “But it’s my personal achievement and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far.”

If you’re in need of a good holiday or birthday gift, you can’t go wrong with one of these beautiful books. They’re functional with recipes and how-to’s, but they’re beautifully designed as well, so they work great as coffee table books. Woody says he has his wife, Esmeralda Wood, to thank for that. She’s the photographer and graphic designer behind his brand.

Books:
“Behind Three Feet of Bar”
“Woody’s Liquid Kitchen”
“Good Wine, Bad Language, Great Vineyards: Wine Characters of Australia”
“Good Wine, Bad Language, Great Vineyards: Wine Characters of New Zealand”
“The Liquid Kitchen: Groovy Drinks”
“The Liquid Kitchen: Party Drinks”
“Beer Nuts: Beer Characters of Australia”
“Cafe Republic of Australia: Sights, Stories and Flavours of Cafe Culture”

What’s Next?
After the July sale of his 12-year old consulting company, Mondo Bartenders, Woody has a new outlook on his career. And, true to his entertainer personality, he mentioned he’ll begin filming a new series (only available in Australia) this February.

“We have a TV series starting to film in February called “Put Me Behind Bars,” the beverage version of ‘Hell’s Kitchen’…covering coffee, tea, wine, beer, cocktails, front of house service, bar design, etc. It’s all fairly intense and planning to be a fun show. I’ll be the Nazi at the end, calling the shots for bar owners,” he said.

We wish Woody good luck, and look forward to seeing more of this up and coming flair bartender, author and all around nice guy.

Meeting Oscar Perez: FlairLive TV’s Entrepreneur

oscarperezAn opportunity came for us to meet with Oscar while in Las Vegas last month. We met at Kahunaville in the Treasure Island hotel. While waiting, we were greeted by Vladymyr Buryanov, another legend in our sport. What amazes us time and again is the humble and grateful attitude we are constantly presented with from the flair guys. I was drinking my hazelnut latte as Vlad approached and asked if I’d like a shot of irish cream to get rid of the Carnival Court hangover I’d been experiencing from the night before. Needless to say, his kindness worked rather well. And, just in time…

Oscar arrived shortly thereafter, and was greeted by everyone behind the bar. An average-height guy with dark black hair, Oscar was dressed in a fitted black t-shirt and jeans. He carried a satchel that could only be recognized as a video camera case. So, I assumed he would be taking some footage of the Kahunaville competition later that evening. As Dan and I shook hands with him, the thing I noticed most, though, was his warm smile. I could tell this was a genuinely nice guy, just wanting to talk about one of his biggest passions in the world…flair bartending.

After finding a quiet spot in the Kahunaville restaurant, we sat down with Oscar to learn more about his latest venture. Our conversation began by me asking Oscar to describe a little bit about his background and career. This accomplished, Uruguayan flair bartender began learning at the early age of 18. Although his career began in South America, he has traveled to more than 20 countries competing and teaching flair bartending to hundreds of people. The list of competitions was extensive, and the passion behind his love for flair was indescribable. You could see the love of the sport in his eyes as he went back into time to relive each year’s worth of competitions attended, places traveled and trophies earned.

Now semi-retired, Oscar continues his love for flair through FlairLive TV, a new website that’s mission is to bring flair bartending to the comfort of your own home via live streaming internet broadcasts of flair competitions, industry interviews and behind-the-scenes interviews with competitive flair bartenders. Did we mention it’s completely free?

The idea for FlairLive TV came to Oscar from running a former website he and Pablo Fernandez created to promote flair in Latin America. LatinBar.net was mainly a message board, but also offered live chat and competition results for a wide audience in Spanish. They continued to grow the site over the next several years, but with travel commitments and living in different countries, it became difficult to keep up regular communication on the business. In 2005 the website was officially turned off, but the idea continued to morph into a bigger idea for Oscar.

After several months of contemplation, Oscar knew he needed more help. He approached Rodrigo Delpech, a dear friend and fellow competitor. They continued to toss the idea around and realized they were in need of a third party who could bring more investment capital and a different perspective to the mix. That person was Rodrigo’s older brother, Christian Delpech. Oscar knew it may be a stretch for the well-known flair icon to support the new idea due to his hectic travel schedule and other business commitments, but Christian was immediately on board after learning more about the new concept.

Since then, the team went to work, creating a site with full-fledged graphics and a professional look. In its first month online, FlairLive TV received 500,000 hits. “Most of our original traffic was from producing a special program of the Legends competition from LAX this year in Vegas,” Oscar said.

The site continues to draw attention from major labels and sponsors with its high quality videos, intense competition coverage and exclusive interviews. But Oscar, Rodrigo and Christian remain firm in their original goal of developing the site for a year before accepting any major sponsorship deals. Garnering a loyal following is the biggest priority he said. That’s why the site is free to anyone who would like to watch and learn more about this up and coming sport.

“But you know, if ESPN or another network wants to approach us with an offer to buy, hey we’re all for that,” he said excitedly.

We don’t blame him, after all, that’s everyone’s goal who’s involved with flair. Exposure to more people, more often is what is really needed to boost the sport into the mainstream.

Oscar agreed, “We stay focused on keeping the site growing with new features, content and marketing so that more people all over the world can experience and become fans of the sport.”

Some unique marketing techniques they’ve accomplished include two iPhone apps, a heavy Facebook following and a dedicated Twitter feed. Oscar informed us that other new ideas are on the horizon, and they continue to look for people interested in commentating and becoming reporters for the site in various countries.

“Sometimes when you think of an idea, it doesn’t always come out the way you imagine it will the first time around,” he said. “I think Latinbar.net was that for me…and this second time around with FlairLive TV is exactly what I’ve wanted thanks to the help and teamwork that goes into the site from Christian, Rodrigo and our team of 15 people behind the scenes.”

With millions of new hits this year and from more than 23 different countries, we see nothing but great things coming from this new flair site. As we finish this post, we’re at a friend’s house watching the Firestarter Challenge live from Kahunaville in Las Vegas. We love being able to sit in our living room and cheer for our favorite bartender as they compete for $12,000 in cash. So, get your next group together, throw a flair party and put the following dates on your calendar…we’ll see you online!

Upcoming Events to Watch on FlairLive TV
Firestarter Challenge from Las Vegas: Recorded event posted now
US Flair Open at Carnival Court: Nov. 9-12 – special to be posted in December
Quest for the Best in Orlando: Nov. 15-18 – LIVE coverage