World Flair Bartending Competitions: 2010 Spring Preview

We announced last week that we would outline a few upcoming competitions this spring for you in the hopes that one of them would make it on your calendar to attend! Because as you know, the best way to support this growing sport is to watch a competition live.

March
March 28: “Roadhouse World Flair” in London. This is the UK Open and where all bartenders resident in the UK can earn points which will see them through to the UK Final taking place in August. For more information please check out www.roadhouseflair.com or contact oli@roadhouseflair.com.

March 28: “Kings of Flair” at Kahunaville inside the Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas, NV. This is a once a month flair contest at Kahunaville, each month the winner gets $300 plus a spot in the finals, 2nd place gets $150 and 3rd place gets $50. Each finalist will get at least $1000. Rules are very simple: make one drink in 5 min. For more information on attending (which is free), contact Shawn Oana at Chants91@aol.com or visit his blog: http://justbarflair.com.

March 31-April 1: “Flair Kremlin Stars 2010” is a newly added event to the WFA calendar. To see more details and RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=106905419329687&ref=ts

April
April 1: “News Cafe Menlyn Flair Comp” in Pretoria, South Africa. South Africa is a turning into a hot spot for flair and this comp has had massive success in the past few years. Grown steadily from just a city competition, it has now turned into a nationwide get together of bartenders wanting to perform in front of the famous Pretoria crowd. For more information, contact Patrick: ellis.patrickm@gmail.com.

April 11: “Living Room Shake Down” in Bristol, United Kingdom. This will be Bristol’s biggest Mixology and Flair event to date and promises to be loads of fun for all who attend! What makes it even better is that this event will be free to watch so clear your schedule! The mixology event will start at 4:00pm and the flair will kick off 6:00pm. For details, please contact Emma at bristol@thelivingroom.co.uk.

April 12: “Maloney’s Flair Comp ” in Southport, Merseyside, United Kingdom. This bar has a long standing tradition of flair bartending and the comps are special to say the least. For more information please email maloneyflaircomp@hotmail.co.uk or check out the Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=8399473182&ref=ts.

April 20: “Underground Flair League 2010 – Heat 2” in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The second heat out of five in the UFL, all heats will be held in the Bitterzoet located right in the center of Amsterdam, with cheap accommodations available nearby. For more information contact Anthony via info@flairbartender.nl or check the facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=256887522706#/group.php?gid=15677273713&ref=ts

April 21: “Crystal City Flair Challenge” in Arlington, VA. For one night only, some of the best bartenders in the world will converge at Bailey’s Pub and Grille. This competition will be part of the 2010 FBA Pro Tour, with complete rules, prizes and drink list to be posted on the FBA website.

April 25: “Kings of Flair” at Kahunaville in Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas, NV. See description above.

April 25: “Roadhouse World Flair – World Open” in London, United Kingdom. This competition, similar to the one mentioned above, offers a chance for all International competitors to showcase their talents. The top three bartenders in this competition will be invited back to participate in the World Final taking place at the end of November. For more details check out www.roadhouseflair.com or contact Oli@roadhouseflair.com for more details.

May
May 3-4: “MyBar Showcase” in Louisville, KY is a perfect comp for those also interested in attending the Kentucky Derby (May 1), which coincides with the showcase. So, head out early and make a week of flair bartending and horse racing!

May 12: “Graffiti Bar Flair Comp” in Earlsfield, London, United Kingdom. This is a real bartender’s competition as it’s a test of entertainment, as well as flair, reflected in the almost equal weighting of the scores. For more info, contact info@graffitibar.co.uk.

May 23: “CFFB 5th Qualification Round” in Strasbourg, France. A series of competitions happening in and around France all through 2010. Please note before getting to excited that this event is only for residents of France which means any foreigners working in France are eligible. Five qualifiers in total with the semi-finals taking place October 24, and the final happening in Paris, November 21. The fifth qualifier will take place in Strasbourg at Cafe de Anges and three bartenders will qualify for the semi’s in October. Please check www.cocktailzone.fr or contact Laurent on lg@baracademy.net.

May 23-25: “Super Flair” in Windsor, Ontario (Canada) at the Beach Nightclub. Last year this was rumored to have the best competitor swag bag anywhere. Always a great time, the Canadians certainly know how to throw a professional comp. For more information, visit: http://www.superflair.ca

May 25: “Cincinatti Summer Flair Tour” – the first stop on this five-comp tour located all around the greater Cincinatti area. For more information:  info@cincisummerflair.com.

May 30: “Kings of Flair” at Kahunaville in Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas, NV. See description above.

If we haven’t listed a flair competition you know is happening in your area, please leave a comment, and we’ll update this page as we go along. Would also love to hear from those of you who have attended a competition recently – what did you think? Will you go to another one?

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

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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

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