Flair is an exciting part of bartending. There's no doubt about it. but there are some golden rules of flair bartending that should be followed when learning the craft. This ensures you and everyone around you is as safe as possible. For the real beginner who is asking "what is flair bartending" for this purpose, we're talking strictly about throwing and catching bottles and equipment to entertain guests while making drinks and cocktails.
The rules of flair bartending practice?
- Practice, practice, practice - You're hardly going to believe that this is the 1st rule, as it's actually in the question.. You're going to hear this one a lot. as it's the only way to perfect your skill and become the best. You want to be the best right? Practice
- Preparation - I suppose this should have come before the 1st rule... Always make sure the space you're practising in is suitable. Make sure to have plenty of open space, and no one else around that can get hurt or broken.
- Equipment - While you're just starting out, you don't need much more than a bottle, a tin, and a lot of space. However there are a few things that will always make life better. Bounce mats being one of them. They protect the floor, the items you're flairing with from smashing, and your ears from the horrendous noises a tin on tiles can make. Amazingly they mostly manage to stop that sarcastic howl from the crowd if something is dropped.
- Practice at home, perform at work - Never try anything out at work that you cant land 9 out of 10 times at home. You'll blow them away with your new moves, but don't think you can land something in front of folk, just because you've managed it once before
- Take a break then practice some more - There's no doubt, this is a work-out! Your arms and body will be moving all the time. Even though bottles don't weigh much, we know that throwing empty bottles around for an hour or so is tiring. So take a break, stretch off, and get back to it, when you can
- Practice in front of people - When you're ready, practice in front of an audience. it's something you'll need to get used to, so best to start off at home or in front of friends who can try to put you off... but you keep your focus, and nail it!
- Never flair drunk - This should be an obvious one, and if it isn't you may just be drunk just now thinking it's a good idea. Think about this one again tomorrow when the hangover has worn off.
- Practice with the right bottles - plastic flair bottles, empty malibu bottles (the plastic wrap helps to hold it together if it smashes) or tape bottles up fully
- Practice with both your left and right hands - Your moves will look so much better if you can mirror yourself going both left to right and right to left. It also opens you up to a lot more moves regardless of where the bottle you need is placed in the speed rail or back bar.
- Wear shoes when you practice - If you don't listen to this rule, you'll surely pay for it pretty quickly having a bottle land on your food is no fun, but if you've got a metal pour spout directed towards your bare feet... you were warned. Wear shoes
- Be aware of who is around you - At work, or when performing to your customers, be totally safe, and know where everyone is. Only flair when you're on shift with those who you're used to being around. Getting to know each others movements and keeping out of each others way is a massive skill.
- Know your lines - the imaginary line that runs parallel to the customers behind the bar, is the main line that your movements should follow. This is for 2 reasons; 1. if you drop anything, it should land on that line BEHIND the bar and NOT fly over the bar into the customers, or back towards the stock. 2. it just looks better. if you perform an amazing move directly towards the customer, they wont be as impressed as they cant see the full movement. Imagine looking at the side of a TV. That's unimpressive yes? Show the customers your skill, and be safer, AND get more tips.
- Have fun - At the end of the day, having fun behind the bar is what flairing is all about. It's showing your skill, but ultimately, you're learning flair to put a smile on peoples faces and your own. If it helps bring in tips, or increases your salary.. who are you to complain?