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Flair Bartending and How To Learn It

bartenders performing exhibition flair

There’s more to being a Bartender than simply making and serving drinks. Experienced Bartenders will tell you that being an entertainer is also a part of the job. While entertaining customers can simply mean talking to them, it can also come in the form of flair bartending.

What Is Flair Bartending?

Flair bartending is the process of making drinks while entertaining guests with the use of bartending tools. At first glance, you can easily mistake a flair Bartender for a circus juggler.

The earliest record of flair bartending was in the 1800s by Jerry Thomas. Jerry poured fiery streams of hot water and flaming whisky to create the Blue Blazer. This earned him the nickname “The Professor.”

Then in 1988, Tom Cruise made flair bartending popular worldwide in the movie “Cocktail.” Fun fact: Tom Cruise was trained by John Bandy, The Grandfather of Flair.

While it sounds simple on paper and looks easy for Tom Cruise in “Cocktail,” flair bartending takes a lot of practice to master.

Benefits of Flair Bartending

Bartending is considered an entry-level position in the hospitality workforce. Almost anyone can become a Bartender with a little bit of practice and knowledge.

By learning flair bartending you can make yourself stand out and progress to new heights in your bartending career.

Flair Bartenders are also more likely to earn higher salaries and more tips. This is because their broader skillset provides more value to both employers and customers.

How To Learn Flair Bartending

If you want to become a flair Bartender, you should anticipate going through a lot of trial and error. Join the World Flair Association where you can talk to people and earn your first World Flair Association Grade.

Next, watch a few videos that teach the flair bartending basics. Some notable flair Bartenders to follow are Alexander Shtifanov, Enrico Meloni, Román Zapata and Tom Dyer. All of these Bartenders have different styles, showcasing just how versatile flair bartending can be.

You can also watch professional competitions like the Roadhouse World Flair and the Las Vegas World Championship to draw inspiration from the best flair Bartenders in the world.

If you like what you see and you want to start flair bartending, you’ll need a few prop bottles and Boston shakers. Prop bottles are lighter and easier to work with, while Boston Shakers are simply sturdier.

Tips for Learning Flair Bartending

Now that you have practice equipment, here are a few tips that can help you improve as a flair Bartender.

1. Practice Makes Perfect

As mentioned, flair bartending takes a lot of practice. You can always learn new tricks, and you can always practice the old ones to perfect them.

Even if your routines are perfect at home, juggling bottles can be different and more stressful in front of your boss and a large crowd.

For that reason, start small. Don’t try to mimic what you see in flair competitions. Those people have years of experience and have spent thousands of hours practicing. Start by adding a little flair to your cocktail-making routine with a simple tin spin or ice toss.

2. Record and review your performances 

Recording your practice can give you a different perspective. Even if you’re doing everything right, does it look cool? More importantly, do you look confident? Going through your previous performances and practice sessions can give you the answers to these questions so you know what you need to work on.

3. Join flair bartending communities

Joining a flair bartending community can be of great help. You’ll get to talk to other aspiring flair Bartenders as well as professionals who might offer help.

Tom Dyer has a Pro Flair Group that costs $8 a month to join. There, you can learn from one of the most legendary flair bartenders in the world. He does monthly video calls where you can learn new moves and improve your flair skills. Additionally, you can ask questions, get advice and network with other Pro Flair Members.

The World Flair Association also fosters a community of flair Bartenders. All you have to do is register and have your profile approved by an admin before you can start interacting with other members.

Another option would be Flair Flow. This online community offers over 50 “rooms” where you can practice working flair and exhibition flair. They can also help you gain followers and make a name for yourself in the flair bartending world.

4. Participate in flair bartending competitions 

Participating in flair bartending competitions is the best way to make a name for yourself and improve your skills. If you’re confident in your abilities and want to test them out on a grand stage, consider joining a local competition.

Once you get past the local competition, you can consider joining competitions like the Cocktail Art Challenge 2024 in Florida. Competitions like this are ideal for proving yourself and networking with world-renowned flair Bartenders.

Why Become a Flair Bartender?

Working flair can be rewarding on both a professional and personal level. Flair Bartenders are highly respected and often well-paid. If you truly enjoy working behind the bar and you’re looking to broaden your skillset, taking up flair bartending might be the best way to grow your career.

For those joining flair bartending contests, these present an opportunity to get your competitive side out. You can compete with other flair Bartenders for national (or even global) recognition and create a personal brand for yourself along the way.

Flair Bartender FAQs

The five basic tricks in flair bartending are:

  • The Ice Toss
  • The Tin Spin
  • The Arm Roll
  • The Three-Shot Pour
  • The Thumb Roll

According to Flair Bartending TV, some Las Vegas-based flair Bartenders make well into the six-figure range. However, those Bartenders have paid their dues and are considered amongst the best in the world.

Flair Bartenders are responsible for the same duties as regular Bartenders, on top of working flair. Their job duties include:

  • Checking and delivering inventory
  • Keeping the bar clean and organized
  • Preparing and serving drinks
  • Juggling, throwing and catching bottles
  • Comfortable performing in front of large crowds
  • Knowledge of cocktails, wine, spirits and beer
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