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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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

Flair Bartending DVD Review: “Area 51”

area51If you’re not able to attend a competition, another way you can support flair bartending  is by watching flair DVDs. As part of our mission to educate the masses, we’ll be doing a monthly review of some of the best flair bartending DVDs available.

Most flair bartending DVDs are instructional or competition related. For our first monthly DVD review, we’re featuring a savory production that anyone will enjoy. “Area 51” not only showcases flair bartending at its finest, it gives a real look into the lives of six well-known flair bartenders in Las Vegas: Vache Manoukian, Dario Doimo, Tom Alley, Justin Keane, Behnam Gerami and Vladymyr Buryanov.

Area 51 DVD Trailer / Running time: 103 minutes

A Little Background
The Area 51 team began at the Legends 8 competition as Behnam, Vache, Tom and Justin. Since then, the group has grown to include Vladymyr and Dario who both moved to Las Vegas for (what else?!) flair.

Steve Rad, director, is most well known in the flair world for his work with Christian Delpech’s Working Flair Training Series. However, Rad’s company Infiltration Pictures has a little more history behind it. A graduate of Chapman University, with a BFA in Film/TV (emphasis in writing and directing), Rad won the “Marion Knott” award for Creative Direction in 2002. From twisted thrillers like “Exit Interview,” to mafia-based action films like “Loaded,” his raw and uncensored writing style has brought him to the forefront of screenwriters. Rad is currently working on the feature film “Guys,” that is scheduled to release sometime in 2010, a raw and untold story of how “guys really are.”

Rad’s passion for film definitely comes through in “Area 51” by giving these flair bartenders their much deserved spotlight. We can only imagine how entertaining it must have been to spend this amount of time shooting the best flair bartenders in Las Vegas.

Highlights
Overall, the DVD is organized into chapters by bartender. Each has his own segment of “at work,” “at home,” and “in the garage.” We won’t go into a ton of detail with this review and spoil all the secrets…instead, we’ll give you some highlights:

  • Vache showing off his $1,000 Valentino wallet and Barley the dog’s flair trick
  • Dario, the loveable Italian, only says one word on the entire DVD: “Ciao!” However, his flair speaks for itself.
  • Tom Alley’s personal putting green and his Madden cover story. His advice: “Don’t be on the cover!”
  • Justin Keane shows off his wine collection, “non-plasma” TV and the 15 other “ballerific” items in his house
  • Behnam’s commissioned artwork was neat, but we really loved the 12 name drops. He even sneaks in Kobe Bryant due to his fanaticism for the Lakers.
  • The vast array of trophies Vladymyr and Terri share is quite amazing. We’re disappointed Terri didn’t make the DVD, but Vlad certainly held his own in the garage.

Special Features
Select the “Pure Flair” option to play a looped video of only flair moves, rotating seamlessly from bartender to bartender. This might be especially useful for bars and/or featuring in the background at your next party!

What DVD is complete unless it has a bloopers reel? “Area 51” doesn’t disappoint. Our favorite “Gag Reel” moment was during Tom Alley’s Cribs feature when an unmentionable video was playing on his “really big plasma” TV. We also liked Vladymyr’s first explanation of his kitchen….probably just a language barrier, being pure Ukranian and all. 🙂

Finally, the original teaser and trailer are also options on the Special Features menu…just in case you missed them before purchasing this unique montage.

How to Get It
To purchase the “Area 51” DVD, visit www.barproducts.com. They’re a huge supporter of flair bartending, so tell them we said “hi.” And, after watching, we encourage you to come back and post your feedback in the comments section.