“Hey, you’re like Tom Cruise in that movie” a line often heard by flair bartenders around the world time and time again! To answer the question, no I am not like Tom Cruise in that movie Cocktail because, like everything else in life, things tend to change and evolve over a quarter century!! You wont find me on Wall Street stopping bankers and saying “Hey you’re like Michael Douglas in that movie” because it would be unfair and ignorant for me to generalize someones profession like that! I will recognize though that flair bartending exists in very small circles and the evolution of flair is quite foreign to anyone who isn’t active in that small community.
A year ago I entered and competed in my first ever flair competition as a representative of Bartenderone. The competition put on by the Toronto Flair League was truly the most exciting and terrifying experience I have had in my bartending career! After blacking out and somehow managing to struggle my way through my 3 minute routine I made way to the bar for some celebratory shots! As the dust settled over the next few days I was able to see a video of myself and really assess what level I was at and where I went right and wrong! It was then that I truly started to understand the high level of preparation that was required to be a successful flair bartender in a competition setting.
My roommate, fellow Bartenderone instructor and flair practice partner Jay Patience and I decided to adopt a new approach to training for competitions. Drawing from our experiences working with former top ranked Canadian flair bartender Gavin MacMillan, Jay and I put into action a plan to become premier competing flair bartenders! The first step was to develop a routine with the perfect balance of technical and innovative moves, smoothness and showmanship! Once the foundation of our routine was in place, we started executing the routines every day for an hour each. Once we had built up our stamina and strength we extended it to 3 hours a day each. The results were immediate and very rewarding! One of the things that helped us immensely was taping our practice routines. Being able to watch the videos and see ourselves during practice allowed us to adjust our routines but more importantly become aware of exactly what we looked like while performing. Once aware of that we were really able to take the showmanship aspect to a new level! The other thing that helped us progress so fast was the use of glass bottles with liquid in them. Its one thing to practice with empty flair practice bottles but it wasn’t until we incorporated the real thing that we truly started to see the results we desired. Consistent practice of a well-balanced routine coupled with the usage of real full bottles thrust Jay and I into the category of up and coming flair bartenders in Toronto. Just like everything in life, consistent practice and a clear goal/vision will more often than not help you succeed. Tom Cruise who?