Especially on your birthday Bartenders get the “birthday” request all the time. While they wish you a happy birthday, they’re also working and trying to make a living. Ordering Long Island Iced Teas We were surprised too when we heard this one. But they’re kinda a signal to the bartender that you’re looking to get tipsy, fast.
The best bartenders have an encyclopedic knowledge of cocktails and know how to keep things rolling while letting the liquor flow. Take our quiz to test your knowledge of all things bartending! Pure Bartending is a fully licenced and insured Mobile Bar Service based in Glasgow and covers all of Scotland. We offer a bespoke bar service, with professional bartenders specialising in weddings, birthday parties, corporate events and much more.
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. It has become a sought-after talent among venue owners and marketers to help advertise a liquor product or the opening of a bar establishment. Competitions have been sponsored by liquor brands to attract flair bartenders, and some hospitality training companies hold courses to teach flair techniques.
Flair bartending is sometimes referred to as 'extreme bartending' or contracted to 'flairtending'. The word flair became popular among practitioners in the mid-1990s. 'Flair' is also used as a verb (e.g. 'to flair'), referring to any trickery used by a bartender in order to entertain guests while mixing a drink. Flair can include juggling, flipping (bottles, shakers), manipulating flaming liquors or even performing close-up magic tricks (also referred to as 'bar-magic').
Flair is showmanship added to bartending that enhances the overall guest experience. The ideas behind mixology and drink-oriented or service-minded bartending can still be upheld with the correct application of working flair. Recently, there is a noticeable rise in bartenders combining prominent mixology knowledge and working flair skills all over the world. Working flair and Exhibition flair are very similar on the grounds that they both require precision and practice, however the use of exhibition flair has become a competition oriented style where significantly greater risks are being taken. Working flair, which is much more common, focuses more on delivering drinks to customers while still ensuring visual entertainment.
The earliest record of a flair bartender is barman Jerry 'The Professor' Thomas, who poured fiery streams of boiling water and flaming whisky and mixed an original cocktail called the Blue Blazer in the late nineteenth century.
Flair bartending was also prominently featured in the 1988 film Cocktail starring Tom Cruise, as well as the 2000 movie Coyote Ugly.
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Both working flair and exhibition flair can be seen in competitions, depending on the rules and regulations of each event. The important distinction between working flair and exhibition 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 thrown and/or the drink is made. Working flair usually incorporates a 'flat' throw, which is when the bottle is released into the air without flipping. This gives an illusion of the bottle floating, but reduces the chances of liquid spilling. 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 filled to various levels (as in a real work situation) that are quickly manipulated and then poured. Exhibition flair almost always involves bottles that are often pre-set with less than 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 an exhibition round was the Quest for the Best Bartender in 1995.
The first open competition to have a working flair round was the Quest for the Best Bartender in the World in 1999.
The first all working flair bartending competition was the Flair Bartenders Shakedown in 2006 organized by BarWars LLC.
There are different styles of flair bartending competitions. Legends of Bartending World Bartender Championships test the bartender on four disciplines of bartending, accuracy, speed, working flair and exhibition flair. The Blue Blazer and Independent Flair League in Poland rewards flair and mixology together; competitors gain points for both flair and creative mixology. NATIONS International Flair Challenge and other competitions like Roadhouse World Flair, MBA, and the Athens Flair Open feature pure exhibition flair.
In 1986, T.G.I. Friday's management encouraged their bartenders to show their personalities behind the bar and this resulted in several bartenders (a few being John JB Bandy, John Mescall, and Magic Mike) being sent to the corporate T.G.I. Friday's office in Texas to shoot a bartending video. At the end of 1986, T.G.I. Friday's hosted the first national flair bartending competition called 'Bar Olympics' in Woodland Hills, California. John JB Bandy was the winner of this competition. In 1987, after interviewing 34 bartenders, John JB Bandy was approached across the bar by Touchstone Pictures to assist in training Tom Cruise and Bryan Brown for the 1988 film, Cocktail. Later that year after filming, John JB Bandy produced the very first flair bartending training video called 'Olympic Bartending'. T.G.I. Friday's is credited for modernizing and popularizing flair bartending in the United States beginning in the mid-1980s because they allowed artistic personality freedom behind the bar. London (Roadhouse) and Orlando (Quest for the Best at Pleasure Island's Manniquins) were the hotbeds of flair bartending in the early and mid-1990s. In 1991, T.G.I. Friday's started its global competition called World Bartender Championship. The global competition has continued to today with divisional champions from across the US, Latin America and European Divisions coming to compete in Carrollton, Texas.
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 points toward the title Pro Tour Champion at the end of the year. In 2007 there were 14 events on the Pro Tour with 7 of them located in the US.
In 2008 the World Flair Association launched the Grand Slam. A worldwide tournament the includes the best competitions from all over the world. It is seen today as the biggest competition/tournament to win in the world of flair. Bartenders travel far and wide for the Grand Slam events to try and earn the title of Grand Slam World Champion. The Grand Slam events vary each year, being located in Europe, Asia, and America.
Five-Time World Champion Ken Hall and Jim Allison, president of the FBA, organized six of those seven events. The flagship flair bartending event is Legends of Bartending, which celebrated its twelfth year in 2010.
Some the biggest flair bartending events worldwide include:
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- Roadhouse World Flair in (Covent Garden) London, UK
- Legends of Bartending (Las Vegas, US) - discontinued
- Quest (Orlando - the oldest major flair competition in the world) - discontinued
- Skyy Global Flair Challenge in 14 different countries including China, UK, Canada, Israel, Czech Republic, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, etc. - discontinued
- Hard Rock Cafe has conducted a global 'BARocker working flair competition since 2013.
The International Bartenders Association was founded in 1951. In 2000, the IBA initiated a World Flair Competition. This event is held at the IBA's annual congress of members, together with the organization's World Classic Cocktail Competition (inaugurated in 1955).
- ^Past Champions, T.G.I. Friday's World Bartender Championship - accessed January 16, 2010
- ^World BTC News 2009 Archives, T.G.I. Friday's World Bartender Championship - accessed January 16, 2010
- ^T.G.I. Friday's World Bartender Championship Mixologist Profiles, T.G.I. Friday's World Bartender Championship - accessed January 16, 2010
- Flair Bartenders' Association — Largest Community of Flair Bartenders
I’ve logged hundreds of hours in bars over the years. All over the place: in particular, Manhattan, San Francisco, Seattle, plus Europe and Asia. I've always found them seductive, and even though my bar hours are limited these days I've learned a lot about them over the years. I have an insider's perspective, having tended bar during my college and early post-college years.
Bartenders are a key ingredient of an establishment’s quality because of the ambience they provide. The alcohol helps, but it’s not always enough. New York and San Francisco have professional bartenders who put real effort into their work. They know just how much (and how little) to say. They have style. If you've regularly frequented the bars in New York and San Francisco and then drink in Seattle, you'll notice a strong drop off in the quality. It's like playing for the New York Mets and getting sent down to the minors. Many Seattle bartenders give off an air of aloofness. Maybe they think they’re staying 'real' by not putting on some fake, super-friendly act. Give me some extras, even if it makes you feel a little less pure inside.
Seattle bartenders would be smart to take tips from some of the fine Irish bartenders I’ve seen plying their trade in New York and San Francisco. Top Irish bartenders have their own followings, and are so in demand that they could quit during lunch hour and have another job before the evening news came on. Their followers would go with them too. These are pros who are making this their life's work, not heavily pierced young people trying to 'find themselves.'
A bartender's job is to lend some personality to the place. You can buy a drink at any old joint, but what makes you want to return is the feeling of conviviality a talented bartender can provide. A sullen or brooding manner is inappropriate. Now, conviviality can be taken too far. I was recently drinking in a bar with my brother and the bartender regaled us for 20 minutes about his recent acting role in the local community theater. He mistook our polite attentiveness for genuine interest, a mistake a real pro would never make.
In Richmond, Virginia, where I currently reside, bartenders are generally minor leaguers. One annoying habit some of them have is that if you hand them a bill that is well over the total of the check, some will ask, 'Do you want change?' They’re essentially saying, 'Hey, would you like to give me a $5 tip on that one beer I just opened and placed in front of you?” It feels like extortion, as if you're supposed to feel like a cheapskate if you say yes. I resent it.
Out of necessity, I’ve developed an effective strategy for handling these uncomfortable situations. When asked if I want change, I reply, in a faux-sincere manner 'Is it okay?' This, I find, generally drives the point home, although it doesn't register with the more clueless types, who just look confused. One bartender went to the trouble of profusely apologizing when I used this approach, which I appreciated.
A big problem in Richmond is that so many of the bartenders are hipsters who think they’re too cool to offer the services their job title calls for. I was recently in a place where the Wi-Fi system didn’t allow me to go on Google—the website was blocked. I brought this to the bartender's attention and he sullenly said, 'I can't do anything about it.' Wrong answer, hipster. The hipster bartender in Richmond often acts as if you are inconveniencing him or her, which also happens to apply to baristas, by the way. Is it something about beverages? Of course, they're just doing this work until their band hits it big, but how much effort can it be to just be polite to someone who is spending their money so they can have a job?
I'm willing to do my part if local bartenders would show a little more dedication to their craft. I know how to behave—what not to do in a bar—because I’ve been in their shoes. Seen it all. When I tended bar for a summer on Martha's Vineyard, a scruffily dressed man used to rail on about how the 'hippies from Taiwan' were trying to kill him. He’d then pull out a wad of hundreds to pay, but leave a pittance for a tip. This is a bartender's nightmare—a skinflint lunatic you have to endure for an hour—but I'm the opposite of this guy. If you're a local bartender, I won't bug you with my paranoid fantasies, and I'll leave a nice tip. I won't chew up 10 swizzle sticks either, and leave them on your bar with several torn-up coasters.
—Follow Chris Beck on Twitter: @SubBeck