DVD Review #3 & A History of Nations

As we continue our series on flair bartending DVD reviews, we thought it would be appropriate to feature the 2008 Nations International Flair Challenge this month. After all, the 2010 Nations is scheduled for August 15-17, at the newly opened Rock & Ritas flair bar inside Circus Circus casino in Las Vegas, NV.

Because we’re always encouraging fans to attend a live competition, this is definitely one to put on your calendar. July and August flights to Las Vegas (within the U.S.) are generally less expensive…and with it being held at Circus Circus, hotel rooms should also be affordable. You’ll likely see some of the most talented flair bartenders in the world at this competition, because of the lineup now working at Rock & Rita’s. To stay up to speed on which competitors will be there (and by division), keep checking the Nations official website.

Mark your calendars and get the plane tickets and hotels booked…it’s looking to be a fantastic competition! We can’t wait to see you there!

A History of Nations
Nations is an internationally known event, organized and run by Jim Allison, President of the Flair Bartending Association (FBA) and Ken Hall, President and Owner of High Spirits Enterprises. Started in 2003 as a smaller budget event at Las Vegas’ Ice House Lounge, this flair bartending competition offers a variety of qualifying rounds such as exhibition flair, speed and pour-testing rounds. This, however, is a unique competition that offers competitors the chance to really showcase their flair bartending skills. Three divisions (or levels) are offered to bartenders, consisting of Amateur (those just getting started), Advanced (those with a few competitions under their belt) and Professional (world famous bartenders).

“The long term goal was to always make Nations an international powerhouse competition focusing only on raw flair,” said Allison.  “This is in contrast to other events like Legends, Quest, and Blue Blazer which all focus on more aspects of bartending than just flair.”

2005 – Nations took place at the trendy Cro-Bar in South Beach Miami. Top bartenders from around the world showed up for the second year of this competition, and had a serious throw down of skill. Christian Delpech took home the grand championship.

2006 – Nations moved back to Las Vegas, but this time at the Club Rio to a capacity crowd.  At this point, Nations became famous for upsets where the underdogs began to step it up and did the unthinkable to become World Champions…Rodrigo Cao was the first to shock the world by achieving this status with his amazing finals round.

2007 – the then unpolished Vladymyr Buryanov came to the main stage on finals night and threw down just enough to topple the unbeatable Christian Delpech.

2008 – the talent showcased at this year’s event was so great that several world champions literally did not make the finals, and yet again another new comer stormed the stage…

Review of The 2008 Nations DVD
Which brings us to our review of the 2008 Nations competition DVD. To sum it up quickly, Poland ruled this particular competition, as they’d been doing that same year in the European scene. Tomek Malek was definitely our favorite round on this video…and the judges agreed. We also enjoyed Justin Keane, who went on to take 3rd overall.

Nations Summary (on back of DVD):
Nine of the greatest flair bartenders on the planet went head to head for over $40,000 in cash and prizes in, what turned out to be one of the most incredible Grand Finals the flair bartending world has ever seen! Round after round, competitors blew the roof off the Ovation Showroom inside the Green Valley Ranch Casino in Las Vegas, NV. Strap in for the most exciting flair DVD ever!!!

Other rounds to watch at the Professional level were Danilo Oribe, Rodrigo Cao, Tom Dyer and Rodrigo Delpech. The lighting on this DVD is awesome, which allows those of us flair groupies to use our “slow” buttons for each of these professionals to see how their moves are being accomplished. Too bad they don’t offer an on-the-screen white marker so we could draw play-by-play diagrams like they do in the NFL.

Some drawbacks to this DVD, though, are that the finals results are not listed anywhere, so after watching each round, it was a bit disappointing in that we couldn’t see who won for each division. We know you want this for your records, so we’ve listed them below for your convenience! You can also find them listed on the FBA website for as long as they archive them. Another annoying issue is not having the flair bartenders’ names listed on each screen. You can hear JD and Chico announcing most of them, but it would be nice to have them on screen during each round. Call us nitpicky, but we also don’t enjoy the opening lime green font on a tie dye background…makes it very difficult to read. The menu options are also pretty limited to: Pros, Advanced & Amateur and Credits. No bloopers, finals results or behind the scenes footage.

Pro Finalists (In Order of Placing):
Grand Champion ($10,000): Tomek Malek (Poland)
2nd Place: Rodrigo Delpech (Argentina)
3rd Place: Justin Keane (U.S.) – also won the Finest Call Stall for $500
4th Place: Tom Dyer (England)
5th Place: Danilo Oribe (Uruguay)
6th Place: Marek Posluszny (Poland)
7th Place: Rodrigo Cao (Argentina)
8th Place: Eiji Narita (Japan)
9th Place: Katsumi Ushiki (Japan)

Advanced Finalists (In Order of Placing):
1st Place ($1,000): Ryan Clark (Canada)
2nd Place: Jacob Mitchetti (U.S.)
3rd Place: Takanori Masuda (Japan)
4th Place: Cruz Gutierrez (U.S.)
5th Place: Masaya Suzuki (Japan)

Amateur Division:
1st Place: Rob Gagne

Add Nations 2008 to Your Library
Overall, we highly recommend having this is your flair DVD collection. Some of Marek’s sequences are plain sick and Tomek has an awesome bump sequence you won’t want to miss! If you’re interested in purchasing this important year of flair history, you can visit the FBA’s online store.

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.

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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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pouring 101: The Best Way to Decrease Alcohol Loss

pourFlair bartending isn’t just about impressing customers with fancy tricks, it’s also about refining the skills needed to make, or in this post, save money for a bar owner.

If bartenders can’t pour accurately, a bar will lose money. You may think – “ehhh, a long pour here and a small spill there isn’t that big of a deal.” But, what if your bar employs six or seven bartenders and they all do this? What if none of them are accurate at pouring alcohol? What is this costing the bar owner?

To give you an idea of the true expense, let’s break down an example using real numbers. An inexpensive, or “house” bottle of vodka runs around $6 in cost to a bar. There are approximately 30 shots in a bottle. Depending on the location, most bars use an ounce & a quarter of alcohol per mixed drink. Therefore, if we take the bar’s price per shot and multiply this by 30, the result is the revenue (or sales) generated for that bottle. If we subtract the $6 cost from that revenue, we obviously get the profit a bar makes from that one bottle.

Let’s also assume that the bartenders, on average, are over-pouring by a quarter of an ounce per shot of liquor. In total, this then equals a shocking statistic: approximately 1/5 of that bottle’s revenue is never collected. 1/5 of the inventory is gone without ever receiving any money for it. This is just on one bottle with one bartender! Now we’re getting somewhere. Can you start to see how this quickly adds up? Furthermore, Vodka is the most popular alcohol for mixed drinks, and bartenders can easily pour two to three bottles a night. One bartender could easily lose $200 a night by over-pouring (or spilling) a measly 1/4 of an ounce of alcohol per drink. Take $200 and multiply that by seven bartenders, and a bar can be short a whopping $1,400 in sales on a few cheap bottles of vodka!

The most important thing a manager or owner needs to know when monitoring alcohol loss is how to pour. If a bar owner knows the skill of pouring accurately, they may then watch bartenders and monitor loss from across a room. They will also be able to continuously train their staff. This is tremendously helpful if a bar doesn’t employ a flair bartender who can teach the rest of the staff this required element to keeping alcohol loss in check.

Pouring Basics

  1. Don’t pour from anywhere except the neck of a bottle. This is where all the money is coming from! This is how a bartender controls the pouring with the most accurate grip.
  2. The key to pouring accurately is the count. We estimate that every one count is a quarter of an ounce…so if a bartender can count to 5, that’s 1.25 ounces….the ideal amount. In addition, the pace at which a bartender counts is really the heart of pouring accuracy.
  3. Know the drink you’re pouring, and adjust your counts accordingly. For example, when pouring a Long Island (a drink that requires two ounces of alcohol), a bartender will pour four liquor bottles at once, thus they should only be counting to two. A two-count is necessary in this case because if one count is equal to 0.25 oz, then 2 oz = 0.25 oz x 4 bottles. Each drink can be different, depending on the recipe and amounts required.
  4. Use the skill of “cutting” to cleanly shut off the flow of alcohol with each pour. Cuts allow a flair bartender to not only shut off the flow of alcohol, but add a bit of showmanship at the same time. There are about 11 different ways to cut alcohol. We won’t got into a lot of the details in this post, but a few of the most popular cuts are the bounce, standard twist, forward twist, wrist snap, backward draw and the forward draw.
  5. When watching a bartender pour, the important thing is to watch their alcohol stream, not their hand. A bar owner can then monitor when the alcohol stops.
  6. We recommend using Spill Stop’s 285-50 metal pour spout. We don’t endorse Spill Stop because we’re getting any advertising money from them. We recommend this brand because it really is the best. The plastic pour spouts are cheaper, but are not as accurate. Metal is the way to go! Don’t believe us? Take two equal bottles of water, attach the Spill Stop brand to one, and attach a generic metal pour spout to the other. The competing brand will almost always pour faster and remain inconsistent with each pour…therefore, bartenders will be less accurate.
  7. Test bartenders regularly. Testing is mandatory to keep bartenders at their best. A bar manager or owner can use tools like a Pour Check, an Exacto Pour or the Fast Tender (from Flairco) to measure pours and accuracy consistently among bartending staff. Most competitive flair bartenders are judged on pouring. In addition, many professional flair bartenders perform level-testing to determine rates of pay based on accuracy and knowledge in this area. This is most common in casinos, especially in Las Vegas.
  8. Don’t just practice pouring – use it regularly. It’s important bartenders not only learn how to pour, but continue to use it on a daily basis while serving customers. After all, just because a bartender can pass a pour test, doesn’t always mean he/she is accurate on the job. Monitoring bartenders during their shift will ensure bad habits don’t resurface.

Need Help or Own a Bar?
Contact us – we’ll be happy to recommend a professional flair bartender in your area to test your entire staff in one day and provide detailed coaching and training. Most likely the money a bar owner invests in this training comes back to them in cost savings within one-two weeks due to improved pouring accuracy.

Our Favorite Flair Bartending Websites

Doing a search on Google for “flair” or “flair bartending” can bring you a variety of link results. We get a lot of questions like:

“Which sites are best to view if you’re new to flair bartending?”
“Who should I contact if I’m interested in learning more about the sport?”
“Where do most of the competitive flair bartenders hang out online or where do they go to get advice, tips and inspiration?”

With this list, we hope to give you a good summary that might help guide you in the general direction of where to start. By no means is this a complete list, and feel free to e-mail or comment on any we’ve forgotten or not represented.

Flair Bartending Association

Flair Bartending Association

Flair Bartending Association (FBA) – With the slogan, “Service First | Flair Second | Competition Always” the FBA was created in 1997 by a small group of extremely passionate and talented bartenders who decided to work together to organize and unite the 800 various competitions throughout the world. With that effort the Flair Bartenders’ Association (FBA) was born and immediately became the fastest growing global membership association in the industry. Since then, the FBA has grown to become the largest and most respected flair-based organization in the world. The FBA is the global sanctioning body and the undisputed authority on the sport of flair bartending. The site is free to join, although premium membership gets you certain perks and upgrades. The FBA forums are a great place to go to learn about the upcoming flair competitions, who’s hiring flair bartenders and general chatter/banter between the guys and gals behind this sport.

World Flair Association

World Flair Association

World Flair Association (WFA) – This a complementary association focusing more on the European scene and promoting the global network of flair bartending. It was created in 2008 by four high-profile flair bartenders, who felt there was a need in promoting & assisting different countries in their events by sharing their combined experiences gained by being heavily involved within flair bartending. Whether in competition, exhibition or behind the bar the WFA prides itself in the sharing of knowledge, good times and providing the platform for modern ethical performance bartending and event organization. Since it’s launch, the WFA has seen unprecedented success by linking like-minded individuals throughout the world using the same passion and drive for the sport, or art of flair, as they call it.

FlairLive TV

FlairLive TV – a company whose interests lie in promoting flair bartending to the masses, with live, streaming coverage of competitors and events online. This company has been created by three former flair bartender world champions – Christian Delpech, Rodrigo Delpech, and Oscar Perez. Our two companies have been known to work together on broadcasts at competitions, so keep an eye out for a GenF spokesperson at their next event!

FlairbarcoverFlairbar – While not published as consistently as it used to be, Flairbar is still the best online publication that competitive flair bartenders use to stay in tune with the industry and other competitors. Normally a monthly e-zine, Flairbar features a different flair bartender or group of flairbartenders on the virtual cover.

Cocktail Shows – Originally a flair bartending video site, this is now a new and improved social networking site for flair bartenders and fans alike.

Roadhouse – A successful nightclub in London’s West End, “Roadhouse” began as a single competition, but has expanded to be sort of like Europe’s World Series of Flair Bartending. This is the official website where you can view the forums, download videos from previous Roadhouse comps and view current standings.

youtubeYouTube – a wide variety of flair bartending videos exist featuring well-known (and not-so-well-known) flair bartenders. Check out the extensive library by searching for simple terms like, “flair bartending,” “Legends of Flair Bartending,” “Roadhouse Flair,” “tandem flair bartending,” or any flair bartender’s name who has competed in the recent past.

FlaircoFlairco – The company who invented the indestructible practice bottles flair bartenders use to train. Flairco is also well-known for the Flairco bar, the portable bar that is used at nearly every competition around the world. If you’re interested in getting started, they also offer several training DVDs and products you can use if you’re just dipping your toe into this sport.

FacebookTwitterMySpace-48x48

Facebook / Twitter / MySpace – a variety of fan pages and groups exist. Most of the above mentioned are on all major social networking sites.

The best advice we can give, though, whether you’re a bartender, a bar owner or a general fan interested in learning more is to attend a competition. You will become connected to the large network of people who keep flair bartending going each year. But the best part is, you’ll get to watch and possibly meet each of the competitive flair bartenders. You can then decide which bartender’s style you enjoy the most and become an official flair fanatic!

A Basic Flair Bartending Glossary: Did You Say Snatch?!

Just like any other sport, flair bartending comes with its own set of unique words. Most of the time, the terminology is used for officials to judge competitions. However, there are a few terms that are downright funny. And, if you’re a flair geek, like myself, it’s fun to find ways to bring them up in random conversation.

Battle – Two bartenders/groups compete against each other to show who has the best moves. Similar to a break dance battle.

Break – when a bottle or glass breaks and smashes during a performance

Bump – If any kind of bar object, while in flight, makes momentary contact with any part of your body which in turn either helps propel or changes the prior trajectory of that object then it is referred to as a bump. View an example of a bump. The current undisputed king of bumps is Rodrigo Delpech from Argentina who has achieved 100+ consecutive forearm bottle bumps.

Dead Toss – A dead toss, or flat throw, is when a bartender throws a bar object (such as a bottle, tin etc..) with no rotation. View an example of a dead toss.

Drop – A drop is a loss of control of a bar object resulting in the bar object touching the ground or other unintended area. Too many of these in a competition routine can result in the term “yard sale.” (See below).

Flairco – The Flairco bottle is the original flair bartending practice bottle. Created by Dean Serneels in 1998, this shatterproof bottle is endorsed by the FBA and has become the training tool of choice for bartenders in 100+ countries worldwide. After numerous design upgrades and modifications, thanks in part to feedback from flair bartenders, this product has evolved to become the standard in learning new moves and skills. Custom printing options are also very popular with competitions, training companies and special events. Contact Mike McLean for more information in getting your own custom Flairco.

Flash – when all objects being used are in the air at the same time.

Grab – referencing the way a bartender is holding certain bar objects.

Helicopter – a fun flair move that was originally an old juggling trick. It involves rotating a bottle on a horizontal plane thus creating the effect of a helicopter’s spinning blades. View an example of a helicopter.

Miss-Direction – when a bartender touches the neck end of the bottle to change the direction of the spin in mid-air. Bartenders can do this using their hands, arms and in some cases their feet. In Europe, this is referred to as a tap.

Muddler – a bar tool that allows you to crush (or muddle) fresh produce ingredients like mint or orange. Muddlers vary drastically in shape, material, (hard rubber and wood are the most common), size and design. In most cases, muddlers are essentially a stick that you hold at one end, and you use the other end to muddle your drink ingredients.

Nest – when a bartender lands a bottle or shaker inside another shaker.

Pyramid – the name given to a style of glass stack with bottles and drinks all balanced on the top of your head. The base bottle is upside down. The next bottle is horizontal. The next layer is made up of drinks. From here on up you can keep creating layers using horizontal bottles and glasses.

Random Tandem – when two or more bartenders flair together without any previous rehearsal or knowing what the other is going to do. Improvisation and interaction occur by throwing objects between bartenders, sometimes with two or three crossing over in mid-air.

Roll – a flair move when any bar object simply rolls along any part of your body or another bar object. View an example of a roll.

Scoop Flair – Flair performed with an ice scoop. View an example of scoop flair. In this video, Tim “Flippy” Morris demonstrates some innovative scoop flair.

Shadow Pass – This flair move originated in Europe during the nineties. It is a thrown pass behind the head and was originally called a “Star Wars” move, because it gives the illusion that you are using “the force.” There are many variations although it usually involves a blind catch. In 2002 this move was greatly popularized by the flair bartenders at Shadow Bar inside Caeser’s Palace in Las Vegas. People started referring to the move as a Shadow Pass. View an example of a shadow pass.

Snatch – ( yeah, that’s right, we said, Snatch). A flair move that uses a mixing tin in a downward motion (with the open mouth facing down) to capture another object (fruit, bottle, another tin, etc.) out of the air and into the tin. View an example of a snatch.

Spill – when liquid spills at any time during a performance

Stall – a flair move that involves stopping an object in movement and balancing it on a part of your body. This flair move is rumored to have been created by British Flair Bartending Legend Leigh Miller. The first stall was a bottle stalled on the back of your hand. Today there are many different kinds of stalls. View an example of a stall.

Tap – Commonly referred to in Europe when a bartender touches the neck end of the bottle to change the direction of the spin in mid-air. Bartenders can do this using their hands, arms and in some cases their feet. In the U.S., this is referred to as a  miss-direction.

Tin – a.k.a. a Mixing Tin, or Shaker is used to mix ingredients by shaking them rigorously. There are many different styles from three piece shakers to crystal shakers. The most simplistic of designs, the stainless steel tin with a weighted bottom has become an industry standard for flair.

Tomahawk – a flair move where a bottle is thrown from behind the shoulder and into a juggle….like a tomahawk! View an example of a tomahawk.

Under/Over Pour – An under pour is when a bartender fails to pour enough of the appropriate amount of liquid into a container or drink. An over pour is when the bartender pours too much of the appropriate amount of liquid into a container or drink. Pouring accuracy is especially important in keeping the alcohol loss percentage of a bar or restaurant in check.

Yard Day – A gathering of two or more flair bartenders who practice flair moves together in the same space. Normally, yard days are local get togethers that are typically held in someone’s yard or a nearby park.

Yard Sale – A funny term referring to a flair bartender who has a LOT of drops in a routine. Ex: “Wow, dude, your last round was like a yard sale!”

Thanks to FlairBar.com for referencing several of the terms listed above and providing all online videos for each example. Visit FlairBar.com’s Glossary.

What in the World is Flair Bartending?

What does your husband do?

This is a common question I’m constantly presented with. I normally respond with: “He’s a competitive flair bartender.”

The person asking usually offers a strange smile, a furrowed brow and even a tilted head. My good friend, Amanda Ashcraft, another flair enthusiast said, “When people ask me, I usually say something like: It’s when they “flip the bottles” while they make your drink (accompanied by a fast up and down hand motion to illustrate for the person visually).”

Both of us agree on what usually happens next: The person will say…”Ohhhhh, like that movie, Cocktail!

We then force a smile, because in the world of flair, this is like a bad joke that people keep telling over and over. You’ll understand why after reading this article.

According to Wikipedia, “flair bartending” is the practice of bartenders entertaining guests, clientele or audiences with the manipulation of bar tools (e.g. cocktail shakers) and liquor bottles in tricky, dazzling ways. Used occasionally in cocktail bars, the action requires skills commonly associated with jugglers.

Flair is a visual activity…you don’t really get it until you watch it. We’ve included plenty of videos and photographic references on the site, but while you’re here reading this article, it’s easier to break this topic up into three parts:

1) Flair is a sport

2) Flair is Entertainment

3) Flair Creates Efficient Bartenders

Flair is a Sport
Believe it or not, but thousands of bartenders all over the world take part in professionally judged competitions where thousands of dollars in prize money is awarded to winners. Some of the main organizing bodies for this sport are the Flair Bartending Association (FBA), the World Flair Association and the Independent Flair League (IFL).

Amanda told me about her first experience going to a competition. “I was with my cousin Cara, who was a bartender in Orlando at the time and knew of this competition in Las Vegas she wanted me to attend with her,” she said. “As soon as I walked into the Rio to this event called “Legends of Bartending” in 2007, I caught the enthusiasm and immediately wanted to start helping with the event so I could be more involved.”

And, she did just that. Amanda has helped the FBA by putting together gift bags, organizing the competitor registration process and assisting with all the little details at each event. Amanda is now Executive Assistant to both Ken Hall, President of High Spirits Enterprises and Jim Allison, FBA President and CEO.

My husband, Dan Seitz, introduced me to my first competition called “Nations” in 2006. It was held in Las Vegas, and after those three days, I was amazed at what I saw! Hundreds of bartenders from places like Argentina, Uruguay, Italy, Austria, UK, Canada, and Japan are all competing for prize money, trophies and bragging rights.

The energy at the event was intense. Professional photographers and videographers were documenting every move as the competitors flipped, mixed and poured their way through each qualifying round. The highly skilled judges (most of them former competitors) took notes and tallied the scores for those who made finals. This is the small few (around 8 or 9 competitors) who go on to compete for the real prize money. This particular event offered over $20,000 in cash & prizes to those who went on to the finals round!

The finals stage…wow. It could’ve been on ESPN with all the sponsor banners, high-end theatre lighting and 8-person judging panel down front. Similar to Amanda’s experience, I also wanted to get involved. At first I thought it might be through garnering more sponsors due to my marketing background. However, I decided my time would be best spent educating people, like yourself, about this amazing sport.

Flair is Entertainment
Earlier this year, Dan & I were in Louisville, KY for the 3rd Annual MyBar Flair Showcase. Once at the airport, we learned a few of our flair friends were flying in just behind us, so we decided to wait for them so we could all share a cab to the hotel. As each bartender arrived, the Flaircos started coming out of the bottle bags and a large corner of the airport became the stage. Dan, Joe Dormani and Nick Olliney became temporary entertainment for anyone wanting to watch. They were in their own world, smiling and laughing with each other as they juggled, tossed and flipped the indestructible practice bottles.

A small crowd soon gathered, and people began offering smiles and cheers as they continued to walk by. This is a small example of the entertainment power of what flair can do for a venue…even an airport. It was yet another confirmation for me that this sport needed to be out there MORE than it had been in the past.

Some of the most popular bars in the world are tourist destinations because they offer a complete staff of full-time flair bartenders (link to each):

Carnival Court – Las Vegas, NV
Kahunaville – Inside Treasure Island, Las Vegas, NV
Salty Dog Saloon – Springfield and Worcester, MA
Roadhouse – London, UK
Cohibar – Munich, Germany
Kahunaville Kalahari Resorts – Sandusky, OH and Wisconsin Dells, WI
Maloney’s – Southport, UK
Aura Ultra Lounge – Reno, NV
Luxy Nightclub – Tapei, Taiwan
LAB – Montreal, Quebec
Glacier – Omaha, NE
MyBar – New Albany, IN

If you’ve been to another flair bar, not listed here, let us know in the comments section!

Flair Creates Efficient Bartenders
What does “efficient” mean in regards to a bartender? In simple terms it means they make drinks faster and waste less inventory (i.e. spill less alcohol while pouring drinks).

I spoke with Mike McLean, Flairco’s Director of Sales and Marketing, about this theory of comparing flair bartenders to regular bartenders, and his response summarizes it best:

“Flair bartenders specifically train and practice in their free time to improve their efficiencies and accuracy for the skills they use on the job. By going above and beyond their fellow bartenders, flair bartenders learn how to accurately pour, multitask and, of course, provide entertainment to guests. As a result flair bartenders will consistently outsell their co-workers while maintaining a higher level of efficiency.”

Furthermore, the flair bartenders who compete on a regular basis are more adept at these efficiencies simply because they are regularly judged on categories like pouring, accuracy and speed. These skills obviously spill over (no pun intended) to their regular jobs.

As you can see, flair is many things to many people. So whether you’re interested in the sport, the entertainment or efficiency aspect of flair, there’s plenty of room for you to jump in and get involved.

I’d like to end this post with one of my favorite flair videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=as3uPiI6ycg