What is flair bartending?
I'm very sure that the first thing that springs to mind when you think of a flair bartender is Tom Cruise in the film Cocktail. Am i right? He shows off some moves, spills some of the spirits, but DOES entertain the crowd. So... what is flair bartending?
Flair bartending is more than just bottle juggling
Tom Cruise's flair, is the first and easiest way to think of flair bartending. It ticks all the right boxes, in that he is entertaining, and having a good time himself. What's not to love about that. Everyone is happy.
More than just juggling bottes, flair is about delivering your service with that extra sparkle. Going that bit further than your guest expects to make them feel special and smile. And hey.. if it puts a smile on your face, and some extra $$ in your tip jar, everyone wins.
The obvious definition of flair bartending
So the way above is the general way of thinking of what flair is. It's making drinks in an exciting way, that usually involves throwing, spinning and catching bottles, tins, glassware or ice. In fact any piece of equipment that you have behind the bar that you'd use to make your drink can be made to have that little bit of dazzle.
Extreme flair bartending (or exhibition flair bartending) is at the top end of flair bartending, where the server will perform with 3 or more items at once. Also it can involve fire, and is often a lot more dangerous than with a single bottle, and single tin flair.
Alternative meanings of flair bartending
As I've already mentioned, flair can be attributed to any aspect of the job where that extra service is given. So i would also call bar tricks as "flair", as you're entertaining your guests. It can also be as simple as knowing your stuff, and talking your guests through your range of spirits, wines and beers. Entertaining the enthusiast with knowledge should also be noted as flair, as you rise above expectation and deliver excellent service.
Remember, people come to our bars and venues to interact and be sociable. So a lot of the "flair" that we should perform should be with our words. It's most definitley a skill to have
The pros and cons of flair bartending
As you may come to expect from my position, i don't feel there are many downsides to learning flair bartending. Be it the traditional bottle juggling, upping your knowledge, learning bar tricks, or just going above and beyond for your guests. The pro's in my mind vastly outweigh the cons.
- You'll have better job security - It's hard to replace someone that has a unique skill. So if you can perform some flair moves, or have advanced knowledge in your products, you're harder to replace.
- You'll have better chance at upping your fee / income - Similar to the above reason, if you can dazzle your customers, you're more likely fill your tip jar. You will also get noticed to perform / serve at events and functions that others may get overlooked for because you can excite your guests.
- You'll have more fun - There's no doubt that if there's a way to make "work" more fun, you should take it (shouldn't you?) Being able to have a laugh about a service you love can be so rewarding.
- You don't have to use flair, but you have it in your arsenal - It's a skill to know how and when to deliver on your skill. when you're 3 deep at the bar, and one of your fellow servers has just gone on a bathroom break, now is not the time to take 4 minutes to perform a flair routine to make 1 drink. You can asses the situation and there are some working flair moves that can actually help you speed up service while delivering and exciting service
The cons. There's not too many on this side, other than
- The time it will take to learn - This can take many hours of your own personal time each week to become confident enough to perform at work. So it's a matter of how much you want to commit to perfecting your skill.
- There may be injuries - There's no getting away from it. There will be a couple of times you'll drop a bottle on your foot, or flip a bottle in to your knuckle, but as with all things. Practice makes perfect. you're only learning it, because you're choosing to learn it.
Have you got it? Flair is all about great service
Regardless of throwing bottles around, flair is all about giving the customer a great experience. displaying showmanship and going the extra mile.
Sure, the original definition of flair was bottle juggling, and it's still true today, but like most things, the definition has expanded.
Our bar culture is growing in skill and knowledge and everyone should be able to perform that little bit of flair for their guests.