How to Become a Flair Bartender
Like any career decision in life, Flair Bartending is not something to be taken lightly. Anyone who plans on being successful at it, either commercial or competitively, needs to spend thousands of hours practicing, dropping bottles, hurting their hands, falling, breaking things, being laughed at and becoming frustrated before they finally have that moment where they bridge the gap between “wanna-be” and “superstar”.
When you decide to take the plunge into Flair Bartending, there’s a few things you’ll want to do right away to get yourself in the right mindset and prepare yourself with the proper tools.
- Learn and appreciate the history of Flair Bartending. Knowing where it came from, who started it, why it’s evolved as it has and what came before will give you an advantage of skipping over a number of their mistakes, learning from their successes and being in the right mindset to compete. If you want more history on Flair Bartending, I recommend both WikiPedia and Miss Charming’s pages.
- Get a job bartending. Shouldn’t this be #1? Maybe, but it’s some sage advice that you really should follow. While you don’t HAVE to be a bartender to be a throw flair bottles, you’ll have a tremendous advantage over someone who isn’t. Competition in the last decade has dictated that you must not only be able to perform the moves to win, but you must also be able to make the drinks they call for and know which bottle to grab for those drinks. You will never place without working bar knowledge and a handle on atleast the main 100 or so drinks that you’ll be asked to make in most nightclubs and high end bars. The best flair performer without bartending knowledge is still a juggler. To be a flair bartender, you have to have bartending experience. Aside from competition, there are a number of other advantages to being a bartender while you learn to flair. Every day, you handle shakers and every day you handle bottles. Your hand gets a grip on bottle necks and you begin to hold these items as they are an extension of yourself. You learn how to do small and quick tricks such as a shaker spin in your hand while working and thus your Working Flair skills improve. You’ll start figuring out new ways to excite patrons with the skills you’ve learned, thus giving you more time to practice and people will come to see you time again. Did I mention the money? A bartender can do pretty good for themselves, especially if they can entertain while serving.
- When you’re starting out, avoid glass bottles and anything else that is subject to breakage. Nothing puts a more abrupt and discouraging stop to your flair bartending training than having to spend time cleaning up broken bottles every time you miss one. Instead, purchase a set of high quality Flair Practice Bottles. Not only will these not break but you’ll look a lot cooler juggling 3 or 4 matching bottles than you will juggling a mix of various rum bottles, vodka bottles, etc.etc.
- Practice. I can’t tell you how important this is. There is a razor thin few “naturals” in any given sport or profession, and flair bartending is a great example of this. Some practice indefinitely and still never become experts, but every time you flip a bottle, you train your brain and your muscles to work in a tighter union. Every time you drop a bottle, you’re giving yourself another example of behavior to avoid. Practice makes perfect, and you should be prepared to practice at every chance. Have a job with lots of downtime? Keep a spare set of bottles in your car or backpack. At home reading or watching TV? Have a bottle in the other hand, spinning it around and making it an extension of your arm. The more you learn to connect your fingers to that bottle, the better your catches will be, the more you’ll instinctively know where the bottle will land and the quicker you can be.
- Buy and use Shaker Tape. Shaker Tape allows you to create slip-resistant bands around your shaker or bottles to aid in grip and keep your fingers from slipping off during high speed maneuvers. Shaker tape is not only inexpensive but goes a long ways. It’s available in many colors and one roll may be enough to cover your entire flair set.
- Practice some more. If you haven’t dropped a bottle in the last 5 hours of practice, add another bottle into the mix and practice again.
- Watch flair training videos. The experts have hundreds if not thousands of hours of experience in handling every facet of flair training. Some have been doing this for 20+ years. Many of them are so concentrated on their technique and their training that they would rival any sports superstar in any other field of competition. Let them help you. These videos will show you the tricks that the experts have learned through years of competition and practice.
- PRACTICE! Didn’t you hear me the first time? Seriously, practice. Do you have a bottle in your hand right now while you’re reading this? You should.
- Once you get good enough that you haven’t dropped a bottle or missed a tin in a while, consider bumping up your game by imitating the best flair bartenders in the world. We carry over 25 flair competition and flair performance dvds with hundreds of exhibitions on them. Watch them, re-watch them and imitate what you’ve seen.
- Pract– you know, I’m done preaching. You’re well on your way to becoming a flair bartender by the time you get to this point. Once you’ve delighted and entertained your customers and friends, enter a local or regional competition. The worse you could do is come in last place, but you’ll be better for the experience. What better practice than being humbled by the big dogs?
So, all of that said, the benefits of becoming a Flair Bartender are potentially massive. They are rockstars in their profession, well regarded to those who understand the sport and interesting to those who don’t. Take the first steps today by ordering some practice bottles and we’ll be seeing you in our Online Flair Contest.