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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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!

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.

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

Economy’s Impact on Flair Bartending Competitions

Sponsor photoIf you haven’t been affected by the economy (either directly or know someone who has), it’s likely you’re living in a very remote location. Dan & I have seen some negative things happen to some of our closest friends this past year.

It seems as though everywhere you turn, there’s bad news. Several major flair bartending competitions have been canceled. Bar sales are down. Companies have announced large-scale layoffs. And, major flair cities like Vegas and Orlando are seeing some of the worst home foreclosure rates in the country. One of our  friends’ home value plummeted so much that it would cost them money if they sold their Las Vegas home.

These issues not only take a direct effect on our personal lives, but also professionally, which is why we chose to address the topic in today’s post.

Has the economy diminished flair competition sponsorship money?
According to a recent article from Reuters, the sports industry’s sponsorship spending growth rate is projected to have the smallest increase in 2009 (when last year it was almost double the next-closest category).

Granted this research is focused primarily on mainstream sports like the NBA, MLB, NFL and Nascar. However, flair bartending sponsorships would fall within this category as well. So how has the economy affected competitions, bartenders and flair in general?

We talked with several flair bartending competitors and organizers to find out.

Mike McLean“There has always been a concern about getting sponsorship and support of flair competitions, not just this year,” said Mike McLean, Director of Sales and Marketing for Flairco and Vice President of the FBA. “There were several high profile events canceled this year, but others were able to make it through. I’m hoping that the global economy bounces back in 2010 and we can potentially go after some new sponsors, maybe even mainstream lifestyle brands, to inject life back into the competitive
scene.”

Colin Griffiths, professional flair bartender and event organizer in Las Vegas was more direct. “The state of the economy has effected flair because sponsor companies are under more pressure to justify results for the money they contribute,” he said. “This combined with their pressure to meet their own sales goals makes it harder to find those willing to support our sport.”

The recession, although affecting everyone, is primarily a U.S. symptom. We were curious if the economic ails traveled across the Atlantic to our flair friends in Europe.

Tom DyerTom Dyer, professional flair bartender in London and key organizer with the World Flair Association, said he didn’t really have any concerns about flair competitions not happening due to lack of sponsorship money. “No concerns at all,” he said. “I actually think this is a good thing for flair. Flair is growing so fast that it needs a break.”

Dyer went on to point out that life balance is a good thing and that with so many competitions happening all the time there’s not a lot of time for everything like getting enough practice in on top of a full-time bartending job and a regular life.

“We had very few comps canceled due to the credit crunch and instead saw a lot of new independent comps mushrooming all over the place which is great,” said Tug van den Bergh, professional judge and founding member of the World Flair Association. “Bartenders in Europe are still willing to travel to flair competitions for little money, which is helping to keep our scene very much alive!!”

To further amplify the positive sentiments from the European flair community, Christian Delpech did a recent FlairLive TV interview with Finest Call’s European Sales Representative Bob Jones. Jones reported that as a company, Finest Call is actually spending more on sales and marketing this year than they did last year. He went on to describe his gratitude, knowing that not all companies are in a position to increase spending during these tough times. Although Finest Call is the number one mixer in the U.S., their interest in deepening the brand in Europe is evident.

Griffiths was right. Companies will foot the sponsorship bill when it is justifiable to their corporate goals, no matter the state of the economy. Finest Call is one of the largest flair bartending supporters and has been for many years. They understand that to increase sales of their product they go to those who are the “cheerleaders” or pushers of that product…flair bartenders.

As long as flair organizers, bartenders and supporters understand the connection to corporate goals, approaching potential sponsors for flair competitions is still a viable funding avenue. This isn’t to infer sponsorships will be easy to secure. As McLean stated, 2010 is a new year, and new sponsorship avenues will need to be considered. Overall, though, expectations are positive when looking at the future of flair bartending. With its international presence, mass following and current sponsor support, flair bartending can only grow from here.

Mixing Flair Bartending and Social Networking

social-networkingFlair bartending is known and well represented throughout the world, however getting together usually means traveling to a competition. Depending on where you’re located, this can get expensive and time consuming. So, the one place everyone connects on a regular basis is online.

Below we outline some of the best social networking sites to interact with flair bartenders, meet other fans, watch flair videos and learn more about this exciting sport.

Cocktail Shows
Started by Levent Yilmaz in 2004, this site was originally for flair bartenders to share videos (like YouTube). This favorite bookmark has now expanded into an amazingly robust social networking site for anyone interested in flair bartending. The new and improved site offers features similar to Facebook and MySpace: status updates, top user system, groups, videos, photo albums, user profiles, private messages and more. The upgrade is still pretty new, so users are sparse at the moment. However, we fully expect this new site to grow exponentially.

Facebook
If you’re online, it’s likely you’re already a member of either Facebook, MySpace or both. However, you may not know where to find the “flair scene.” Once you find a few of the groups below you can begin to connect with each of its members individually. There are plenty more, but these are the most popular as of today…

Flair Bartending Association (FBA) – If you also visit the FBA’s official site, you can become a member (free) and visit/read the forums where thousands of bartenders communicate about competitions, events and all things flair.

World Flair Association (WFA)

International Bartender Association (IBA)

FlairLive TV – a company whose interests lie in promoting flair bartending. This company has been created by three former flair bartender world champions – Christian Delpech, Rodrigo Delpech, and Oscar Perez.

Hellenic Barmen Association (HBA) – Nonprofit union of bartenders in Greece. The Official Group of the Hellenic Barmen Association in Greece. See also the Hellenic Flair Bartender’s Association.

Competitive Bartender Federation (CBF) –  This group’s mission: To raise awareness for all competitions while trying to create and promote as many competitions as possible.

Bartenders Association of Puerto Rico (B.W.M.A.) – Official Facebook Group page of the Bartender, Waiter & Maitre’d Association Of Puerto Rico.

Mastah Dubai Bartender’s Association – The brain child of a group of influential flair bartenders within the region, Mastah aims to provide a forum of communication to the U.A.E.’s bartending community as well as training opportunity to all within the profession irrelevant of their nationality, age, gender or religious affiliation.

MySpace
The Flair (Flair Bartending and Competitions) – A Bartending Group to discuss Flair Bartending, Competition Bartending, Promote Bar Events or Flair Bartending Events.

Flair Bartender List – An exclusive directory of flair bartenders worldwide.

Stars of the Bars – Showcasing the Greatest Bartenders on the Planet! International bartender and model search.

YouTube
Simply do a search for your favorite flair bartender – Christian Delpech, Rodrigo Delpech, Dario Doimo, Danilo Oribe, Gianluigi Bosco, Tom Dyer, Levent Yilmaz, Marek Posluszny, Tomek Malek, etc…and you’ll find a treasure trove of videos to peruse.

Once you get involved with the competitive flair network, you’ll learn quickly that this is one large family of great people. Our friend, Tom Dyer also mentioned something important about the growth of the sport, “Flair is growing so fast (mainly thanks to the internet), that soon you’ll be seeing a lot more bartenders flair with 5, 6 and 7 objects without problem!”

We agree. So, get online and join one or all of the sites mentioned above…flair fans around the world are waiting to welcome you with open arms.