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.

If you like Generation Flair, be sure to subscribe to the RSS alerts (enter your email address in the Subscription box at the top of this page) to receive our blog posts via e-mail.

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!

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.

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.

World Flair Bartending Competitions: 2009 Fall Preview

With our launch of the first worldwide, comprehensive flair competition calendar, we thought it would be appropriate to outline what’s coming up in the flair bartending world this fall.

Upcoming Competitions
The biggest flair competitions to watch this fall are described below. For a full event list, be sure to visit our Master Flair Bartending Event Calendar.

roadhouse113x85Roadhouse – One of the World’s longest running flair competitions. Qualifying rounds happen on a monthly basis with the UK Final this month (Sunday, August 30). The Roadhouse Grand Final is by far the most exciting and held in London. Watch as over 200 flair bartenders from around the world come together to battle it out for £10,000.00 in prize money.

Quest_Logo_2006Quest – It all takes place at the Groove Nightclub in Orlando’s City Walk, November 11-15. Quest is the original international flair bartending competition in the U.S. The combination of almost 100 flair bartenders from around the world, incredibly fast speed rounds, wicked flair and priceless specialty rounds makes this flair competition a must-see event!

Danilo Oribe, professional flair bartender from Uruguay and Kahunaville flair bartender in Las Vegas said, “Two of the best competitions at the end of the year are Quest and Roadhouse. Quest is a classic, the first world comp, a lot of fun and is professionally done! Roadhouse is a classic as well, featuring 100% flair and more than 200 competitors throughout the year, culminating in a fantastic final in November!”

skyyGFClogoSKYY Global Flair Challenge – SKYY Vodka has been searching for the world’s hottest flair bartender using a unique competition format. The SKYY Challenge competition enters its third year, and has become one of the most sought-after titles for flair bartenders across the globe. The most talented bartenders from five continents and 14 countries will battle it out to see who will win the prestigious title, and a top prize of €6,000 in Shanghai, October 23-24.

ifl_logo_redIndependent Flair League (IFL) Final – One of the best spots on the prestigious WFA Grand Slam Tour, the IFL Final features three qualifying competitions in Krakow, Jastarnia, and Poznań. Find out which finalist will take the championship title in Warsaw, Poland this November.

pourwars photoPour Wars Bartender Challenge – at Hennessey’s Tavern in Pacific Beach, CA, is designed for working flair bartenders. It encourages working flair as an effective, positive form of entertainment while also including the valuable skills of accuracy and mixology. Three competitive rounds culminate in the December 8 final.

Who to Watch
With so many flair bartenders competing for top prize money this fall, we wanted to highlight those to watch, and those who might be on the verge of breaking through to the next level this year.

U.S. Competitions
The Flair Bartending Association has a “Pro” and “Advanced” tour with the largest competition at the end of the year being Quest. We talked with Mike McLean, professional flair judge and marketing director of Flairco.

“On the FBA Pro Tour, all of the big names should be in attendance at Quest, including Rodrigo Delpech, Dario Doimo, Danilo Oribe, Rodrigo Cao, Behnam Gerami, Paul Trzcianko and possibly Levi Donaldson,” predicted McLean. “The qualifying round at Quest is always incredibly close and the finals are amazing!”

Eric ParkerHe also mentioned the FBA Advanced Tour would be the place to watch a few up-and-comers. “There are a bunch of bartenders trying to chase down the points leader Eric Parker,” he said. “Some of the bartenders to watch include Damiano Carrara, Vahe Manoukian, Justin Crowe, Gustavo Hernandez, Dan Seitz and Josh Briggs.”

Colin Griffiths, Kahunaville flair bartender and flair promoter in Las Vegas added to the Advanced Tour predictions. “Eric Parker with his “silky smooth and clean” moves is definitely a contender to watch,” he said. “Parker will need to develop some signature moves to be a real contender on the pro scene, however.”

International Competitions
These include Roadhouse, SKYY Flair Global Challenge Final and the IFA Final.

Tomek MalekMarek Posluzny“The Double Hand Flair Ambassadors from Poland, a.k.a Tomek Malek and Marek Posluzny (shown left) have created some serious heat in Europe this summer with a couple of big wins,” Tug van den Bergh, professional judge and founding member of the World Flair Association, said. “They’re both uber technical and their moves make the crowd go ape!!”

“Let’s not also forget Marco Canova and Gianluigi Bosco, both doing some really cool stuff at the moment and probably the most consistent competitors on the scene,” van den Bergh said.

Then there are the usual suspects. He described competitors like Danilo Oribe from Uruguay, who always seems to be “on.” His fellow countryman, Juan Pablo Santiago, burst onto the European scene a couple of weeks ago and is most definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Griffiths, also added, “I’m running several comps the first week of November. So hopefully the who’s who will include some of the international flair giants like Tom Dyer, Sebastian Oquic, Tomek Malek, Marek Posluzny, Rafael Arce and, obviously, Rodrigo Delpech.”

Flair Bartending Websites to Visit
No matter which competitor you’re rooting for, there are several organizations and websites (beyond Generation Flair) that exist to promote flair bartending. Be sure to check the below sites every week to learn more about this fantastically exciting sport!

Delerium TV
FlairLive TV
FlarBar Magazine
Flair Bartending Associaion (FBA)
World Flair Association (WFA)
Hellenic Barmen Association (HBA)
Independent Flair League (IFL)
Chinese Flair Bartending
International Bartending Association (IBA)