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Flair Bartending

Flair Bartending

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Published by: rhouge on Nov 13, 2009
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Flair bartending
Flair bartending
Flair bartending
is the practice of bartenders entertaining guests, clientele or audiences withthe manipulation of bar tools (e.g.cocktail shakers) andliquor bottles in tricky, dazzling ways. Used occasionally incocktail bars, the action requires skills commonly associated with jugglers. It has become a sought-after talentamong venue owners and marketers to helpadvertise a liquor product or the opening of a bar establishment. Competitions have beensponsored by liquor brands to attract flair bartenders, and some hospitality trainingcompanies hold courses to teach flair techniques.Sometimes referred to as "extreme bartending",the word
flair 
became popular amongpractitioners in the mid 1990s. Also used as averb (e.g "to be flairing"), the word refers to anytrickeryused by abartender  in order toentertain  guests while mixing a drink. Flair can include juggling,flipping(bottles, shakers), manipulating flammable liquors or even performing close-upmagictricks (also referred to as "bar-magic").Flair is showmanship added to bartending that enhances the overall guest experience.The ideas behindmixologyand drink-oriented or service-minded bartending can still beupheld with the correct application of 
working flair 
. Recently, there is a noticeable risein bartenders combining prominentmixologyknowledge and working flair skills all over the world. Working flair and Exhibtion flair are very similar on the grounds that they bothrequire precision and practice, however the use of 
exhibition flair 
has become acompetition oriented style where significantly greater risks are being taken. Workingflair, which is much more common, focuses more on delivering drinks to customerswhile still ensuring visual entertainment.
History
The earliest record of a flair bartender is legendary barmanJerry "The Professor"Thomas, who poured fiery streams of boiling water andwhiskyand mixed an original cocktail called theBlue Blazer in the late 1800s.
 
In January 1994 bartender Scott Young from Vancouver, BC Canada formed thecompany "Extreme Bartending by Bar Smart" and started teaching and performing Flair Bartending across North America. Young took his formal system of training in the art of Flair Bartending to the next level and in 1997 launched his websitewww.ExtremeBartending.com, the fourth bartending website on the internet. In 1998Scott subsequently created the five video "Extreme Bartending Working Flair Starter Series", widely known to be the most highly successful video training series for Flair Bartenders around the globe. In 2003 Scott released the follow up 2nd and 3rd levelExtreme Bartending training series the "Competition Flair Bartender Series" and the"Teamwork/Tandem Flair Bartender Series." In 2001, the FBA (Flair BartendersAssociation), an international non-profit organization with representatives in over 50countries, recognized Scott for having the most impact internationally as a trainer.TheFlair Bartenders Association(FBA) and the World Flair Association -(www.worldflairassociation.com) sometimes pronounced "Wa'fa" are recognized as theglobal authorities on the sport.
Flair competitions
Both working flair and exhibition flair can be seen in competitions, depending on therules and regulations of each event. The important distinction between working flair andexhibition flair is not so much the level of liquid in the bottles (though that is a criterion)but the speed in which the bottle is flair and/or the drink is made. Working flair usuallyincorporates a "flat" throw. Which is when the bottle is released into the air withoutflipping. This gives an illusion of the bottle floating, but reduces the chances of liquidspilling. This also opens the bartender to be able to use similar routines, regardless of what bottle they grab, as the level of liquid is not a factor. The accepted definition of working flair is "flair that does not noticeably slow service," usually involving bottles filledto various levels (as in a real work situation) that are quickly manipulated and thenpoured. Exhibition flair almost always involves bottles that are often pre-set with lessthan 2 ounces (60ml) specifically for flipping. Exhibition flair often involves longer sequences and routines, multiple objects, and performances choreographed to music.The first open competition to have a working flair round was Quest for the BestBartender in the World in 1998.There are different styles of flair bartending competitions.
Legends of Bartending 
WorldBartender Championships test the bartender on four disciplines of bartending, accuracy,speed, working flair and exhibition flair. The
Blue Blazer 
and Independent Flair League(IFL) in Poland rewards flair and mixology together, competitors gain points for both flair and creative mixology.
NATIONS
International Flair Challenge and other competitionslike Roadhouse World Flair, MBA, Athens Flair Open is pure exhibition flair where thebiggest and best moves are shown.
Competition history
The earliest known competition for flair bartending was held by T.G.I. Friday's in MarinaDel Rey, California around 1985. Management noticed bartender John Mescall's talentfor juggling bottles while pouring drinks and decided to hold an in-store competition,which they later took national. Mescall was a bit hesitant, because other Friday'sbartenders saw his art more of a nuisance when they were forced by management to
 
flair as well. He made a couple of "how-to" videos for TGI Friday's and later worked withJohn J.B. Bandy in what was probably the first ever flairtending video, "OlympicBartending". The earliest world champanionship for flair bartending was held by T.G.I.Friday's in 1987 for their bartenders, and was won byJohn J.B. Bandy, who went on totrainTom CruiseandBryan Brown for the 1988 Movie
. TGI Friday's is creditedfor modernizing and popularizing flair bartending in the United States beginning in themid 1970s. London and Orlando were the hotbeds of flair bartending in the early andmid 1990s. Currently, Las Vegas is the flair capital of the world, with London a closesecond. The countries currently producing the most top competitors right now areArgentina,
Current competitions
There are hundreds of flair bartending competitions around the world each year, most of which
are local and not well publicized. In 2005 the Flair Bartenders Association (FBA)launched the
FBA Pro Tour 
, a linked series of events where competitors earn pointstoward the title Pro Tour Champion at the end of the year. In 2007 there were 14 eventson the Pro Tour with 7 of them located in the USA.Five-Time World Champion Ken Hall and Jim Allison, president of the FBA, organizedsix of those seven events. The flagship flair bartending event is
Legends of Bartending 
,which will enter its tenth year in 2008.Some the biggest flair bartending events all over the World includes
Roadhouse World Flair in London, UK
LEGENDS of Bartending (Las Vegas)
Quest (Orlando - the oldest major flair competition in the world)
Bacardi Pro Flair (Moscow)
Skyy Global Flair Challenge in 14 different countries incl. China, UK, Canada,Israel, Czech Republic, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, etc.The newest major events to gain credibility among top competitors include:
Umag Daylight (Croatia)
Helsinki Onella Flair Master (Finland)
Athens Flair Open (Greece)
Brasil Open Flair (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Flair Vegas (Las Vegas)
IFL (Poland)
Prague Bartendending Challenge (Czech Republic)
The Blue Blazer Challenge (Las Vegas).Major events almost always have a prize money of US $20,000 or more, and most of today's
Flair bars

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