Celebrating Generation Flair’s 1st Birthday

It’s officially been a year since Generation Flair began working to grow the sport of flair bartending for fans worldwide with this blog. And, what better day to celebrate than Mother’s Day?!

To commemorate this special milestone, we’re giving you a short review of our favorite GenF posts to date. We look forward to another year of continued growth and success. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your readership, support and time. Flair bartending fans ROCK!

Cheers!

Pouring 101: The Best Way to Decrease Alcohol Loss – Our most popular post to date, this article goes into detail about minimizing alcohol loss and saving money for a bar owner or manager. We all know that because flair bartenders practice and are regularly tested on their pouring skills at competitions, they are a step above non-flair bartenders in their ability to be a more valuable employee.

Meeting Oscar Perez: FlairLive TV’s Entrepreneur – One of our favorite interviews last year was with the owner and founder of FlairLive TV, Oscar Perez. His passion for the sport and his contribution in making flair more accessible to thousands around the world landed him the coveted FBA’s 2009 Trailblazer award. Keep it up, Oscar! We’re all cheering for the success of FlairLive TV!

Anatomy of a Flair Competition – One of our more lengthy posts and certainly more technical, this article gives the judging perspectives of the two most popular organizing bodies of flair competitions worldwide – the Flair Bartending Association (FBA) and the World Flair Association (WFA). This is a must-read for any flair bartending fan or new competitor!

Educating the Anti-Flair Bartending Customer – A fantastic article on common misconceptions about flair bartenders and the real facts behind why flair bartenders are gaining popularity in bars worldwide.

Flair Bartenders Actually Compete?! – If you have friends and family who are still uneducated about how big this sport really is, send this article to them. It’s a great testament to the sport and gives some real stats to how much money is at stake and a basic overview of how competitions work.

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.

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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.

Legends XII: The Super Bowl of U.S. Flair Competitions

One of the best things you can do to support the flair bartending scene as a fan is to attend a flair bartending competition. This week we hopped a jet plane to Las Vegas to attend the largest U.S. flair bartending competition called Legends of Bartending. This year was its 12th year and has been described as the Super Bowl of flair bartending competitions. Therefore, we knew we’d be witnessing some of the best flair bartenders in the world competing for a $10,000 first place prize and bragging rights.

Sunday Night: Competitor Registration
The first night at a competition of this type is the beginning of it all. The Sunday night meet and greet is where all competitors (both advanced and professional levels) gather to see each other and finalize their registrations in the competition. Registration is simply the time when competitors sign their liability forms, give the organizers their music and pick up their swag bag (which normally contains a commemorative bottle, tin and bottle opener, a few t-shirts, and any other sponsor gifts).

The evening is normally open to only competitors and their guests. Sponsors are invited and there’s usually a free, open bar for all attendees. At Legends, this is also the time when the FBA announces its year-end awards from the prior year. The FBA’s 2009 awards are voted upon by the membership at large several months before Legends happens. You can see the 2009 winners by visiting the FBA’s Awards page.

LAX Nightclub - LuxorCompetitive Atmosphere
If you’ve never been to a professional flair competition, it’s a lot like a normal sporting event…only it’s held in a bar. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of fans attend. This year Legends XII took place in LAX nightclub inside the Luxor hotel & casino.

After the first night of meet and greet, it’s a full day of qualifying events. Competitors at Legends are expected to pass a Pour Round, a Speed Round and an Exhibition Flair Round. Because Legends is one of the only competitions that requires all three rounds, it is considered one of the most difficult and challenging competitions in existence today.

Spill-Stop Pour Off

Eric Parker competes with Behnam Gerami for the Spill-Stop Pour Off

Pour Round – In this round bartenders pour ten drinks as fast and as accurately as they can. Bartenders are given eight glasses and two tins. Bartenders then pour liquors only (actually they use water in all competitions) into the empty glasses. No ice or mixers are used. Bartenders must pour the proper bottles into the proper glasses with the proper amounts that follow the provided recipes. This round is worth 200 points out of their total qualifying score.

Speed Round – The speed round requires the competitor to make six drinks and open one beer as accurately and quickly as possible. The six drinks are derived from the Master Drink List which is drawn randomly by the competitor. One of the judges then announces those drinks to the competitor and officially calls “Go” to start the clock. Point deductions can happen for spills, missed or wrong ingredients, under-pours and drops or breaks. This round is worth 300 points toward their overall qualifying score.

Eric Parker in his Exhibition Round finals night.

Exhibition Flair Round – Each bartender in all divisions has four minutes to make two drinks. The first drink is made using Working Flair while the second drink showcases Exhibition Flair. Unlike the Speed Round, the competitors know the two drinks they will be making before the competition begins. This allows them to create a full routine (with music). Bartenders are judged on things like Difficulty, Flow of Routine, Creative Flair and Overall Performance. The most valuable of all three rounds, Exhibition Flair is worth 450 points toward the competitor’s overall score.

Tuesday is solely dedicated to finalist rounds. The Advanced Division this year announced five qualifiers: Santiago Gomez, Mike Mills, Ezequiel Abergo, Richard Ramirez and Kevin McCormack. The Pro Division accepted nine qualifiers: Dario Doimo, Danilo Oribe, Gianluigi Bosco, Steven Jarmuz, Behnam Gerami, Riccardo Mastromatteo, Eric Parker, Miyuki Kamimura and Nick Olliney.

These gentlemen (and lady) then competed in another day’s worth of flair to see who would win the ultimate title of Legends XII Champion and $10,000 in prize money. An additional round called Working Flair is added on finals day. This round is worth 300 points and consists of a competitor making 4-5 drinks in three minutes while being judged.

Another unique thing about Legends is the Tandem event. This is where two flair bartenders come together with a routine and are judged similarly to the other rounds. Below is the video of Colin Griffiths and Vladymyr Buryanov of “Team Bar Flies,” who took this year’s Tandem Championship title.

Commentating with Christian Delpech For Thousands of Worldwide Fans

Christian Delpech & Kacy Seitz Commentating for FlairLive TV

Christian & Kacy Commentating on FlairLive TV

The last part of finals day is considered the “big show.” This is where all finalists compete in the Exhibition Flair Round (worth 475 points) on the main stage. Generation Flair was asked to co-host FlairLive TV’s coverage of the main event with Christian Delpech, a well-known legend in this sport. Since this was our se

cond experience with FlairLive TV (first being at Quest 2009), Kacy gladly accepted the challenge once again.

As each competitor took the stage, Christian and Kacy were commentating for fans all over the world (3,500 computers logged on from over 25 different countries)! For the first time, FlairLive TV offered viewers various sponsor commercials and product plugs during the broadcast. The energy was high and the results were anxiously anticipated as each judge reviewed the overall list of finalists to determine who would be crowned Legends XII Champion.

Legends XII Results: 2010 Finalists
Flair bartending competitions like Legends not only offer the prestige and bragging rights of each flair bartender who earns his/her trophy, they also offer some amazing prize money! Below are the final results and their cash prizes won for this event.

1st: Danilo Oribe (Uruguay) – $10,000
2nd: Gianluigi Bosco (Italy) – $2,500
3rd: Dario Doimo (Italy) – $2,000
4th: Miyuki Kamimura (Japan) – $2,000
5th: Nick Olliney (USA) – $1,500
6th: Steve Jarmuz (USA) – $1,500
7th: Eric Parker (USA) – $1,500
8th: Riccardo Mastramatteo (Italy) – $1,500
9th: Behnam Gerami (USA) – $1,000

Attend Your First Competition
If you’re interested in attending a flair competition, check the Flair Bartenders’ Association or the World Flair Association to find a professional competition near you. We’ll be writing a detailed list of upcoming spring/summer competitions next week, so be sure to subscribe to GenF alerts (enter your email address in the Subscription box at the top of this page). Even if you’ve never been to a flair competition before, but you’re curious, give it a try! Everyone is welcome and it’s an opportunity for you to watch the sport as its meant to be seen: LIVE!

Outlook for 2010: Growing Flair Bartending Worldwide

Not to get too sentimental on everyone, but we felt it was appropriate to start 2010 with a post on gratitude, friendship and love.

Gratitude for how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time with this blog and its goal to advocate flair bartending to the masses. We’ve been blessed with a wide network of amazing friendship that continues to grow, going as far to say that some people are so close to us now that we consider them family. Thank you for being you and for helping us promote and write about our passion for this sport. And lastly, recognize that flair bartending isn’t just a hobby to us. We absolutely love everything it has to offer our life: a well-paying job for Dan, traveling to excellent destinations, and an outlet Kacy uses for creativity and inspiring others to promote and enjoy flair as much as we do.

Generation Flair began because two people realized how unique and important this sport could be for fans everywhere. We saw the benefits flair bartending gave to professional bartenders, businesses, bar owners and the media. Using our marketing (Kacy) and bartending (Dan) backgrounds, we began connecting the dots.

Dan adds expertise, creativity (he named the blog after all) and support. Kacy’s writing, passion for growth and business acumen allow us to provide accurate content (hopefully free of spelling errors). And, together our skills in forming key relationships across organizations and businesses give you the most well-rounded content possible. With this recipe, we hopefully are giving you something you’ve never had before – a professional blog that connects the flair bartending scene directly to your reality through the convenience of your computer and/or mobile phone.

Accomplishments in 2009
We’re very proud of our beginnings and wanted to take a moment to highlight what we’ve accomplished for flair fans everywhere in 2009 so we can continue to create growth for flair bartending:

  • Generation Flair had its first post May 6, 2009. Since then, we’ve posted 20 articles giving you the best education, coverage and behind-the-scenes look into the world of flair bartending.
  • We launched a fan page on Facebook that has attracted nearly 1,000 loyal fans.
  • We learned a new form of social media and joined the Twitter craze. Although small, our 115 followers have given us invaluable feedback and ideas for new posts and conversations around flair.
  • We both created profile pages (Kacy’s & Dan’s) on Cocktail Shows, a unique flair bartending social networking site.
  • We worked hard to create strong alliances with popular organizations like the Flair Bartending Association (FBA) and the World Flair Association (WFA) to make sure our content was accurate and you were getting the broadest perspective of flair bartenders and competitions.
  • Our post Meeting Oscar Perez: FlairLive TV’s Entrepreneur allowed us to form a new friendship with a unique communication channel for flair fans everywhere. FlairLive TV is the first website of its kind in the U.S. to feature live, streaming coverage of flair bartending competitions for free. Thank you Oscar, Christian, Rodrigo and the entire staff of employees and volunteers at FlairLive TV for all you do for the sport of flair bartending! We look forward to watching more great content in 2010!
  • Kacy was asked to be a co-host at Quest 2009 (November) with Christian Delpech and Paul Nguyen on FlairLive TV’s coverage of the big event. We learned the event was viewed in 21 different countries and on over 1,600 unique computers…an estimated 3-15 people were watching from each computer. Because Generation Flair was mentioned throughout the broadcast, blog traffic spiked that evening and we gained even more fans as a result. View the recording HERE.
  • We realized flair began taking new avenues to grow in 2009. After our latest blog post and interview with Hayden “Woody” Wood, we saw an even larger potential flair bartending has for generating fans young and old.

Goals for 2010
We embrace many organizations, media outlets and individuals as long as they do their part to support and grow flair bartending in a professional manner. We understand that we can’t be the only ones creating a movement and it takes MANY people to bring about an awareness of flair bartending. That’s why we’ve developed the following goals for 2010 and beyond:

  1. Increase our overall fan base from the thousands to the tens of thousands through new promotions, media coverage and strategic alliances.
  2. Develop more posts on flair around the world. We want to give you more information and involvement in the flair bartending scene across Europe, Asia and South America where we know flair is growing at a rapid pace. This includes a certain amount of posts dedicated to features on flair bartenders, competitions and sponsors outside of the U.S.
  3. Create stronger alliances with international organizations like the Hellenic Barmen Association (HBA), International Bartender Associaion (IBA) and others. This will help us grow a broader fan base and hopefully expand our efforts into new countries with the help of a larger group of experts and flair competition organizers.
  4. Develop a specific look and brand for Generation Flair. We have a logo, but we can’t stop there. We invite any and all graphic designers, advertising specialists or brand experts to help us create a new look for the blog that you’ll be proud to represent. This will be created with your help and feedback.

Thanks to All Flair Bartending Fans Everywhere
Your enthusiasm, passion and interest in this sport have given us even more motivation to keep bringing you the best of flair bartending in 2010. Without you, flair bartending wouldn’t be as exciting and popular as it is today. Help us continue our mission and achieve the above goals by participating on the social networks here and here, adding comments to the blog posts and e-mailing us with your suggestions.

So let’s raise our glasses and toast: Here’s to a bright future for flair bartending and all it has to offer you, its loyal friends, family and fans…cheers to a great 2010!

So You Want to Open a Flair Bar…

large bar crowdThis is a must read for bar owners, managers or investors thinking about opening a flair bar. It’s also for those of you thinking about incorporating full-time flair bartenders into an existing establishment.

Opening a Flair Bar
The beauty of opening a flair bar is that it can be in almost any type of establishment you’d like. Maybe you’re a sports fanatic wanting to own a sports bar, or an upscale businessperson wanting to own a martini lounge…or even a rock star hungry for a heavy metal dive. Flair bartending can incorporate easily into each of these concepts. It’s a flexible avenue for entertainment and fits in with most any style.

The normal requirements for opening a bar, of course, include things like a business plan, financing, a build-out, and marketing. There are a few additional items to consider before adding flair bartending to your concept.

Things to Consider For A New Flair Bar:

  • Bar Staff – The most obvious difference between a regular bar and a flair bar are the bartenders. Although you could hire local bartenders and train them on some aspects of flair, it’s really best to hire professional flair bartenders. It takes many years to develop the level of entertainment and interaction flair bartenders offer, so if you want to open right (and start off with high sales), use the best talent. You can locate flair bartenders in your area by contacting us or checking into one of the flair organizations (listed on the left) for help.
  • Bar Setup – Space behind the bar definitely needs consideration. A flair bartender usually needs more space than your average bartender. Because flair usually entails juggling, tossing and catching items, height and width behind a bar are important. Ultimately, a good flair bartender can flair anywhere, but adequate space for the more complicated moves may be required.
  • Atmosphere – While flair bartending is flexible, it’s important to know that establishments like fine dining or jazz clubs may be too low key for flair to work well.  A little bit of flair can work everywhere, but there’s a difference between a little bit and a full-time flair bar. Imagine what your guests will want and cater every aspect of your bar/restaurant to this.

Incorporating Flair Bartenders Into an Existing Bar
Let’s assume you already own or manage a successful bar. And, you want to up the stakes a little by adding some flair bartenders because you know this improves alcohol sales, differentiates you from the competition and keeps customers coming back.

Things to Consider For an Existing Bar:

  • Costs – Generally flair bartenders may require more base pay than your average bartender simply because they are skilled at their profession. They work hard and perform consistently well, therefore, be prepared to pay them for this advantage. It will be worth your extra cost, because the additional dollars they bring in and the new client loyalty they provide will usually offset this investment.
  • Hiring Flair Bartenders – While flair bartenders exist all over the world, it may be tough to recruit them if you are in a more rural area. Generally, they like to work in metro markets or places where tourism is high. Truthfully, it’s because they are able to make more money where opportunity is bigger and where clientele turnover can constantly be refreshed. If you’re in a rural area and are still committed to adding flair bartending, be prepared for a lengthy hiring timeline as it may take longer to find the right flair bartenders to move to your location.
  • Inventory – The last thing to consider is your inventory. Flair bartenders use 750 ml bottles in most cases. While you may be able to get better pricing on volume purchases with liters, flair bartending will sell more alcohol to hopefully offset this cost. Consider also the space for displaying this alcohol. Whether your back bar showcases these bottles or you have special shelving, you’ll have more room to display more bottles if you use 750s versus liters.

No matter what situation you’re in, flair bartending is a valuable option for your bar. It improves sales, creates an exciting form of entertainment and increases customer loyalty for your bar or restaurant.

What It’s Like Being Married to a Flair Bartender

Ilovemybartender-Vegas

Being the wife of a competitive flair bartender, I’m asked all kinds of questions once the subject of his career comes up in conversation. From “Do you travel with him to his competitions?” to “What is it like having opposite schedules…how do you spend quality time together?” and even, “How do you deal with all the women hitting on your husband while he’s at work?”

So I’d like to shed a little light on the subject. Hopefully, whether you’re a guy or a gal, today’s post will give you some insight into what it’s really like being married to a competitive flair bartender.

Competition & Travel
The first year Dan competed in national competitions, I went with him on every trip. I felt it was important that I fully supported his decision to grow professionally as a flair bartender. And truthfully, I wanted to know how this whole sport worked.

What I learned first was how accepting and amazing the people are in this industry. We now lovingly refer to all of them as our ever-growing “flair family.” After several years of him attending competitions, we can honestly say that we have a friend or at least a flair acquaintance in pretty much any place we’d ever want to travel around the world.

Most competitions are not held on weekends because this is when most bartenders make their money. Therefore, traveling to every competition soon became impractical due to financial and vacation-time constraints for me. I try to attend at least one major competition each year. When time and money allow, I go to more.

The main thing that comes along with competing is practice, practice and more practice. Dan is thankful to work at a place that encourages flair, and therefore, does a lot of his repetition practice at work. However, practicing for a competition requires extra time due to the specific (and different) rules for each comp. It’s not unusual during the month of a big competition that Dan is in the garage flairing at 5:00am after he gets home from work. He will also wake up early during the day (while I’m at work) to do a lot of the more difficult moves that may result in a large amount of noise like glass breaking or tins dropping.

Opposite Schedules
I won’t lie, the scheduling issue is a challenge sometimes. I have a day job and he works nights and weekends. When Dan is coming home from work (usually around 5:00 or 6:00am) I’m just getting up, ready to start my day. And, when I get home from work (6:00-7:00pm), he’s getting ready to leave and start his shift at the bar. Granted, this doesn’t happen every day of the week, but it is a regular occurrence. We also don’t normally have weekend time together like most couples.

Obviously this schedule isn’t for everyone. We, however, actually enjoy it. Both of us are pretty independent and require certain amounts of time alone to recharge and regroup to be creative and productive. Because our schedules allow us this time, we each maintain a wide network of friends and a diverse set of hobbies that we may not have if we felt we had to always “ask permission” to do these things.

Most importantly when we do spend time together, it’s definitely quality time. We don’t normally watch TV or count being in a room doing separate things as “real time together.” We plan fun, exciting days and always look for things we haven’t done. We travel, visit family, see a new Broadway show, explore a local neighborhood, etc. No matter what it is, though, we make sure that we both are still growing and learning from each other.
And, even though kids haven’t entered into our equation just yet, we know that with this philosophy our relationship will continue to work no matter how crazy the schedule becomes.

“Flirty” Girls (or Guys) at Work
No matter which flair bartender you’re dating or married to, the issue of flirtation is always going to present itself in the relationship. I’m not sure what specifically it is, but there’s something about flair bartenders. You could be a completely unattractive person and someone will find you exciting as soon as you step behind that piece of mahogany and toss a bottle. I fell for it, just like many other people, and have learned a few things about “how to deal” with the flirty girls.

First, I’m not a jealous person normally. So, girls who flirt with my husband on a regular basis don’t really bother me. They didn’t get under my skin even before we were in a committed relationship. I think most of this attitude comes from me being secure with myself. My thought: “Hey, if he finds someone better than me, then I’m sure I can find someone better than him.”

Second, Dan and I have a very strong relationship that consists of a lot of communication. I trust him completely and he’s never given me a reason not to do so. He doesn’t take girls’ phone numbers when they offer them. He always states that he’s married when a girl presses for further contact like asking when his shift ends. And, he doesn’t really flirt all that much when he’s not at work.

Finally, this is a job. He’s employed because he’s an entertainer and exceptional people person. So I actually think of flirting in this instance as a valuable job skill. He doesn’t stop flirting when I’m present at the bar, but I know he’s working for tips. And when that girl puts another $5 on the bar, I remember that it’s coming to our house. This is business.

Overall, It’s Worth It
I can’t think of anything more rewarding than watching my husband exhibit his passion for this sport. His never-ending dedication to improvement for himself and others is inspiring. And, I can’t describe the feeling I have when he’s on that competitive stage, flairing his heart out and earns a new trophy after all his hard work pays off.

The past several years have been awesome. I’ve watched him grow into a better competitor and overall person from this sport. Marriage to a flair bartender isn’t always easy, but overall it’s definitely worth it. This works for us.

Anatomy of A Flair Competition

Legends of Bartending 2009 - Rodrigo Delpech

When I first started going to competitions, the excitement was overwhelming, but most importantly I really wanted to know what was going on. How were bartenders being judged? What determined who won first place? Is there a difference between two different competitions’ rules? This post should give you an idea of how the judges determine who wins first place, and who goes back to their garage for more practice.

Above all, it’s important to know which organization, or group of people are planning the competition. This determines the set of rules and format the competition will follow. In this post, we’ll outline two different organizing bodies and how they each judge various flair competitions. NOTE: These are not the only groups that promote and judge flair competitions, but they are the most popular and accepted on the competitive circuit.

Flair Bartending Association (FBA)
Following the FBA’s standardized rules, there are three divisions a bartender can enter to compete. Those effectively are Amateur, Advanced and Professional.

Amateur – A flair bartender who has never competed, or has been competing for less than a year. It is expected that once a bartender places in the top three of any Amateur division, they move up to the Advanced division.

Advanced – A flair bartender who has been competing for over a year. It is expected that once a bartender places in the top three of any Advanced division, they move up to the Professional division. Some prize money can be awarded at this level, but it is minimal and depends on the competition.

Professional – A flair bartender who has been competing for many years and shows exceptional scoring abilities when competing against all other bartenders in the industry. This is the division where the majority of the large prize money is earned.

FBA Judging Criteria
1. Difficulty – The degree measuring how hard a bartender’s moves are to perform. A bartender’s routine is measured as a whole for difficulty, therefore, only moves that are successful will be taken into account. For example, if a bartender attempts a trick, doesn’t complete it, and doesn’t attempt it again, the trick will not count toward the bartender’s overall difficulty score. Difficulty can come in several forms. It can be seen in one individual move, the combination of a series of moves, or even the way a bartender incorporates music with their routine. Coordinating a routine on cue, or on beat, with the music demonstrates a higher level of difficulty.

2. Originality – Judges measure a bartender’s ability to perform with fresh moves and a truly creative performance. Bartenders are awarded more points for original moves and routines that have never been seen before.

3. Balance – Refers to the way a competitor organizes their routine using the specific requirements for that competition combined with their own style and creative moves. For example, if a bartender performs for five minutes and four of it is spent on one particular style, such as using one bottle and one tin, while the remaining minute is used only to finish their required drinks, this would not be considered good “balance.”

4. Execution – Refers mainly to the bartender’s control over their entire routine. This includes bottles, tins, tools and/or tricks they attempt. Judges may consider the following questions when evaluating this category: Is the bartender demonstrating good overall bartending skills? Does a bartender successfully complete his/her stalls when intended? Is the bartender performing good flair pours and cuts? Does the bartender step back and flip bottles, then walk up to the bar and make a normal pour? By the way, all bottles should be flipped into pours.

5. Smoothness – In the basic sense is the bartender’s ability to make his/her routine look easy. To score well in this category, the bartender’s “flow,” or sequence of moves should look uniform and polished. Flair moves should blend together and not have breaks or readjustments. If a bartender drops many items they’re working with (i.e. bottles, tins, strainers, openers, etc) they lose points in smoothness.

6. Variety – Is the number of different types of moves performed and the different types of objects (strainers, muddlers, glassware, ice scoop, etc) flair bartenders use to complete moves during a routine. Obviously, the more objects used and the different styles of flair performed results in a higher overall Variety score. If the bartender is repetitive, they will score lower.

7. Overall Entertainment – In this category, flair bartenders are judged on their interaction with the crowd, choreography with the music, and their ability to break the imaginary wall between themselves and the crowd. To score well, the flair bartender’s routine should match the style of music and, above all, their energy should be high.

8. Showmanship – Refers to the flair bartender’s demeanor, or attitude, behind the bar. The flair bartender should be confident and in command of their tools and the stage. The competitor should not seem flustered by mistakes and should be able to keep a smooth flow to their routine, even if they drop something.

Now that you have a good idea of the categories in which flair bartenders are judged, let’s take a look at the different rounds offered at various FBA competitions. Not all rounds are offered at every competition. In fact, most competitions feature only two or three of the rounds described below. Check the rules and regulations for each competition to know what exactly will be taking place at that event.

FBA Competitive Rounds

Flair Round – This includes two sub-categories: Exhibition Flair and Working Flair.

Exhibition Flair is the classic idea of flair bartending, the performance aspect. Exhibition flair is flair performed for entertainment and competition purposes and generally involves longer, choreographed routines, usually without liquid in the bottle(s). It is a style of flair that generally does not lend itself to every day bar shifts. However, there are a growing number of flair bars around the world that showcase exhibition flair as part of their operation’s entertainment. Exhibition flair often involves multi-object flair including 2,3,4 and 5 bottle/tin tricks and routines. Exhibition flair can involve moves and routines performed while not in the drink making process. Working Flair is the opposite of Exhibition Flair and refers to the moves that are used with bottles containing liquid combined with moves that contribute to the drink making process. Working flair is the type of flair the FBA encourages on day-to-day bar shifts: quick, light, and realistic moves that can be performed without slowing service. Most working flair involves glassware, one bottle, bottle and tin, garnish, or occasionally, two bottle moves. This sub-category of flair is always performed while making a cocktail or drink.

Speed Round – Some competitions offer a speed round where bartenders are challenged with making six random drinks in the shortest amount of time possible. Drinks are announced over a microphone just before the bartender begins their round, which is closely timed and watched by the judging panel. The speed round is not won usually on making the fastest time, but instead won with the bartender who has the fewest deductions. Deductions can happen when improper amounts are poured, wrong ingredients are used, drops, breaks, spills, etc. The speed round can be very exciting to watch, especially as competitors get close to beating the best time for that day.

Specialty Round – This round is currently only offered at the Legends of Bartending competition. It is the “fun and crazy” round where flair competitors are allowed to create a full-blown theatre-style routine using extravagant props, outlandish costumes and crazy choreography. Bartenders such as Dario Doimo have been known to dress up as Spiderman and jump onto the stage with silly string shooting from his hands. Other bartenders have worn masks, wigs and extravagant makeup while flipping bottles, tins and other items on the bar. Scoring is mainly based on overall creativity and the entertainment value.

Pour Test Round – Refers to the competitive round where bartenders are challenged with pouring approximately 10 drinks consecutively. While this round isn’t timed, it is mainly judged on accuracy, and competitors use water instead of alcohol or mixers. Using an Exact-O-Pour, a popular industry tool to measure the proper amount of liquid that goes into a drink, the bartenders carefully pour the assigned amounts in each glass. Deductions can include spills, drops and inaccurate amounts in each glass. Amounts are measured down to the hundredth of an ounce. This can be one of the most nerve wracking rounds at a competition due to the sheer concentration it takes for a bartender to complete.

Tandem Round – When two bartenders perform together in an organized, and often synchronized routine to music. Much like the Flair round, bartenders are judged on the FBA’s standardized criteria. However, adding a second bartender to the mix with twice as many objects not only adds to the difficulty, but is a true crowd pleaser with its entertainment value.

World Flair Association (WFA)
The WFA is a much newer organization, and is a little different in the fact that they don’t have divisions. All bartenders compete against everyone else no matter the level of skill. Most of the WFA competitions are held in Europe, and has become widely known there. In addition, all competitions are judged on only two categories: Flair and Entertainment. There are four sub-sections in both categories with a combined total of 300 points at any competition, each of which are described below.

Flair (200 points – 50 points per sub section)
1. Variety – To score well in this section competitors should flair everything they touch. For example, if they pick up their juice container and only pour it, they will be scored on this as a missed opportunity to flair. A wide variety of moves is also encouraged: Flash, grabs, pours, bumps, rolls, stalls, etc.

2. Creativity – To score highly in this category, bartenders must exhibit their own style, moves and choreography throughout their routine. This is not just about the moves, it also takes into consideration the presentation of the routine, the music and how creative a bartender is when he/she performs.

3. Difficulty – Judges look for difficult moves and skillful sequences. Linking together multiple bumps, rolls, taps, reverse catches, etc can help a bartender score points.

4. Smoothness – Some of the questions the WFA judges will ask before scoring a bartender are: Did the bartender have a set routine, or were they just making it up as they went along? If the bartender dropped did they recover or did they let it affect their performance? Judges want to see a routine that is well-balanced and smooth.

Entertainment (100 points –  25 points per sub section)
1. Balance – Refers to the criteria of a routine being weighted correctly. WFA judges look for a well thought out performance and not something that is poorly planned.

2. Showmanship – Flair is all about entertaining people. Bartenders are putting on a show for the people that are in the venue, so judges want to see the competitor interact with them. One tip: A smile can make a big difference.

3. Music Interaction – WFA judges look for moves being in sync with the music, a bartender’s interaction with the lyrics and choreography.

4. Composure – Is a bartender calm and relaxed on stage? Do they land all moves with confidence, and recover well from any drops or mistakes? To score well in composure, a bartender must posses these abilities.

Deductions
Deductions can happen in any category listed above. We briefly describe the possible point deductions below. These are specific to the WFA only.

1. Drop (-3 points) – A drop is when a bartender is flairing an object, loses control and the object falls to the floor or onto the bar. Drops do not count with a beverage napkins, straw, garnish or ice. If a bartender is flairing three bottles and they drop two of them, then it is effectively counted as two drops.

2. Spill (-2 points) – is when a bartender loses control of a pour into a glass, or drops a tin or bottle holding liquid and the liquid falls outside of its container. Generally two judges count spills and the average is taken from their results.

3. Break (-10 points) – Whenever a glass object is smashed (either in mid-air or on the floor), this deduction is applied.

4. Misc (-5 points) – May include a missing ingredient, a wrong ingredient and/or wrong procedure. Some items judges watch for include the correct procedures when bartenders use beverage napkins, straws, garnishes and proper amounts of ice.

5. Missing Drink (-40 points) – Quite simply, if a bartender doesn’t have the two drinks on the bar by the end of their routine, then it is considered missing. If the bartender has a glass on the bar with ice, but no alcohol or mixer then that is also considered a missing drink. If a drink is considered as missing the competitor is not then deducted for the missing ingredients as well.

Whew! That was a long post…but the next time you’re at a flair competition, now you’ll know more about what you’ll be watching and experiencing. Always remember to applaud and cheer for every bartender during, and after their round. It not only takes dedicated flair practice, but a large amount of courage to get up on that stage to compete.