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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Pro Flair Bartender Feature: Gianluigi Bosco

The new Italian on the U.S. flair scene, Gianluigi Bosco, is certainly making a name for himself this year. We sat down with Gianluigi in Las Vegas to learn more about his secret to flair success.

Newest Gig: Becoming a Flair Bartender at Rock ‘N Ritas
Selected as one of the few flair bartenders to work at Las Vegas’ newest flair bar, Rock ‘n Ritas inside Circus Circus casino, Gianluigi is excited to work full time in the U.S.

“My dad is not very happy about it, because I’ll be far away from the family. But my mother is very happy as are my brothers and sister,” he said, smiling.

When asked about making the cut after auditions, you could see the pride and excitement in his face as he described what we all know as true career success. “I was very happy,” he said. “You know, as a flair bartender, you always think, what’s my goal? This was it for me…to be able to work in the U.S. and for a bar that is going to change the scene for flair bartenders.”

Rock ‘n Ritas is scheduled to open June 2010 with some of the best flair bartenders known in the industry. To learn more or to schedule your visit, go to http://www.circuscircus.com/dining/rock-rita.aspx.

Getting Started, “Bosco” Style
Gianluigi’s story of how he got into flair bartending is a fairly typical one if judged from the average flair fan. However, the success he’s had in such a short amount of time is nothing short of spectacular.

“I started out in the service industry as a waiter in Lecco, Italy in 2002,” he said. “It was a second job, actually, that I took to earn some extra money. I saw the bartenders working and I had become a bit bored with what I was doing, so I started training to become a bartender.”

Shortly after he completed his training, an opportunity opened up in Spain for a season. However, he ended up staying for a year and a half. This was his first experience working in a flair bar. “I then took a job in a restaurant, where I became the head bartender and after a short stay there, I decided to move to another country to learn another language.”

By the way, he’s fluent in four languages.

“In 2006, I moved to Paris, a much larger city, where I learned French and met Rafael Arce (better known in the flair world as Rafa),” he said. “This is really where I started to practice properly by going to the Bar Academy every Wednesday. They open a really nice space to practice flair for anyone who’d like to come and do that.”

This is really where Gianluigi became serious about flair bartending. “I learned that I had some raw talent for flair, so I started to learn how to compete and practiced every day,” he said. “That year, I did three competitions, and although they weren’t very good, I continued to work hard and in 2007, I went to Roadhouse and made the finals for the first time.”

Since then, Gianluigi’s momentum has continued to flourish. Not only did he win the IBA World Championship, he also tacked on first place at all of the following: Warsaw Flair Challenge (Warsaw), Roadhouse UK Challenge (London), Que Pasa Flair Challenge (Chelmsford), Bols Master Battle (Berlin), Underground Flair League (Amsterdam), Elite Flair Comp (Orlando, FL), and World Online Flair Contest. At Legends XII, he took second place, just after Danilo Oribe and was honored with the FBA’s 2009 “World Traveler” award. This award was given to him for attending and competing in 35 competitions last year in 12 countries.

Now that’s a dedicated (and successful) flair bartender!

We wondered if the increase in competitions is what created some of his success. “Yeah, of course,” he admitted. “Because my biggest problem was stage presence and being in front of so many people while competing. I always felt uncomfortable. So, the amount of competitions have allowed me to get used to that and overcome that fear.”

Gianluigi is well known on the European scene, but he’s recently become more active in the U.S. We wondered if he favored one country over the other as far as competitions are concerned.

“Flair is really different in America,” he said. “The FBA Pro Tour is very good and very professional. They care about the drinks, how you make them, your show, etc. In Europe, it’s all about flair…not so much about the drinks, but I like both styles equally well. They’re just different.”

What he really likes about Europe is the variety of talent and skill across all flair bartender levels. “There’s closer skill levels in the top competitors in Europe along with a wider variety of styles and flair moves,” he said. “In the U.S., there are some well known guys, but a big gap exists between the Pro and Amateur levels..I think mainly because right now there are more flair bartenders in Europe.”

Where is Flair Headed?
It’s always important to look at the trends of any up and coming sport. Flair bartending is no exception and we were curious if Gianluigi felt the same. So we asked him where he thought flair might be going in the future.

“It’s getting really big,” he said. “In the states, it used to be very big, but last year there weren’t as many competitions. Europe hasn’t seen the recession, so last year Europe was better for competitions than here…which is why I had some doubts about moving here.”

He also mentioned one of our favorite flair media outlets, FlairLive TV. “It’s new and something good for our sport,” he said. “Finally, we have some high quality footage of the professional guys doing flair. You know, there are loads of flair videos out there, but most are not high quality. I would love to see FlairLive TV explode and give the sport the more professional look it deserves.”

We couldn’t agree more, and certainly think Oscar Perez and his team are well on their way to making this happen.

Flair is a Way of Life
Gianluigi is one of the more passionate flair bartenders we’ve met. It’s obvious that combining his talent and dedication to working hard, he’s going to go even further in 2010. “Flair has been a way of life for me for the last two years. I love the traveling and meeting new people from all over the world,” he said. “Truthfully, If it wasn’t for flair, I’d probably still be in a crappy bar in Italy. It’s added passion, it’s life for me now.”

To learn more about Gianluigi Bosco, you can visit him on his Facebook page, become a fan of his group “Flair Competition Results” or see him at the next big flair competition.

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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.

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

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)

Five Tips Flair Bartenders Follow When Continuously Competing

With summer upon us, it’s an extremely busy time of year for flair competitions all over the world. Here’s a small list for June & July:

Belushi’s Flair Challenge – Amsterdam, The Netherlands (June 21)
Underground Flair League, Heat 3 – Amsterdam, The Netherlands (June 22)
Skyy Flair Challenge, Local Spanish Competition – Madrid, Spain (June 23-24)
Bar 09 – London, UK (June 23-24)
Roadhouse World Flair, World Open 3 – London, UK (June 28)
Big Kahuna – Las Vegas, NV (June 28, Finals July 26)
Independent Flair League, 2nd Round – Warsaw, Poland (July 1)
Que Pasa Flair Challenge 3 – (July 2)
Roadhouse World Flair, Asian Open – Tokyo, Japan (July 5)
5th Croatia Flair Open – Croatia (July 6-7)
Skyy Flair Global Challenge – Sri Lanka (July 12)
Onnela Flair Masters – Helsinki, Finland (July 15)
Legacy of Flair Bartending – Reno, NV (July 20-21)
Arizona Flair II – Scottsdale, AZ (July 21-22)
South African Bartender Championships, Qualifying Round – Durban, South Africa (July 23-24)
Roadhouse World Flair, World Open 4 – London, UK (July 26)
Flying Things & Head to Head – Las Vegas, NV (July 27)
Flair Vegas Finals – Las Vegas, NV (July 28)

With all of the competition and prize money opportunities, flair bartenders can find themselves on a plane multiple times a month. Therefore, we thought it was appropriate to address a common question among our readers: “How do they compete so often and not burn out from the travel and stress of competing?” Below are five tips some flair bartenders use to keep routines fresh and maintain their general well-being during times like this.

  • Get enough sleep. This is the first thing that will kill a bartender’s sharpness and their ability to think on their feet while competing. It’s also the most challenging obstacle to overcome because most bartenders are traveling to a comp straight off of a busy work night.
  • Minimize alcohol. It’s easy for a competitor to go out every night with the other competitors and party. But, if a bartender is there to win, they will usually try to limit the drinking and partying, at least until they’re done competing.
  • Eat healthy food. Common sense, we know, but sometimes it’s hard to eat on the road based on cost and time allotted in the itenerary. Planning ahead helps competitors find restaurants that offer a good variety of fresh food.
  • Drink plenty of water – Bartenders know that staying hydrated will help with fatigue, sore muscles and overall mental clarity.
  • Practice for one comp at a time. Rules differ by competition, so bartenders find that it’s important to focus on one competition at a time. And, what’s in their mind is the most current rules needed to avoid confusion. Some flair bartenders will use the same basic routine, but add in (or take out) certain moves to make it appear fresh to the judges and audience.

We also asked a few busy competitors to give us a few more ideas of what they do during this time of year. Nick Olliney, Josh Briggs, Tom Dyer and Behnam Gerami were nice enough to take time out of their schedule to give us their insights. Thanks, guys!

Nick Olliney

Nick Olliney

Nick OllineyProfessional Competitor
“I’m just coming back from my fourth competition in the last five weeks, stretching from Indiana, Windsor Ontario, New York, and Sarasota, Florida so I guess the main thing that keeps me going week after week is the thrill of being in front of large crowds and the people enjoying my show. Right before my last comp (Florida), I left work after doing inventory at 5:00am, arrived at the airport for a 6:00am flight and three hours later I was in Florida. With just a few hours of sleep in the last two days, I was exhausted. But, once the first bottle was flipped and the crowd went nuts, the lack of sleep went away… that’s what keeps me going while continuously on the road.

I’d also say that what keeps me going from work to airports to comps back to work pretty much with very little sleep in between is the fact that every time I travel, I’m going to be around great friends.”

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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!