How to Flair Bartend

Doing It with Flair

What is flair bartending?  If you remember a Tom Cruise movie from 1988 called Cocktail, then you know what flair bartending is.  It’s pure showmanship of the highest order.  It’s what we call risk-taking for fun & profit.

It’s definitely a skill item, and it will absolutely generate incredible tips, but it takes a great deal of dedication and practice to become like the extraordinary practitioners you may have seen in real life.  And why do I say risky?  Well, depending on where you buy your liquor, dropping a bottle can be expensive!

If you actually want to learn flair bartending there are certainly people willing to teach you.  You can even teach yourself if you possess a  rudimentary understanding of physics such as “spin the bottle so that the liquid stays in the bottom, not near the spout” so that you don’t spray yourself or the customer with alcohol (which, believe it or not, actually results in lower tips, and possibly, cleaning bills).

Your best bet to get started is probably to buy a flair training bottle (or three); this is a bottle, made of fairly durable plastic, which is approximately the right weight, that you’ll have difficulty breaking.  This is precisely what you need to learn a Shadow Pass (tossing the bottle from one hand to the other, behind your head, without looking).  And buy some aspirin; you’re going to hit yourself in the head many times before you get it right.

If you have some juggling skills great!  If you don’t, you might want to learn just a couple of simple little tricks like icing a glass.  For that one all you do is take one ice cube in a pair of tongs (don’t touch your customer’s ice with your fingers), and swing your arm down towards your hip, behind your back, releasing the ice cube as you pass the opposite buttock.  The ice cube will continue its path upwards and pass over your opposite shoulder whereupon you catch it in the glass.

This can also be done with a tin to begin a shaken drink.  But only do it with the first ice cube; use a scoop to finish off the tin or glass.  Doing it five times in a row will be boring; you’re trying to create flair, not tedium.

Another simple trick you can learn, where you are unlikely to break anything, is the thumb-roll.  Hold the big tin in your hand, below center, with your thumb toward your chest.  Push away from you briskly with your thumb while opening the other four fingers wide and back.  The tin will topple backwards and you keep your thumb in contact with the tin all the way around the rotation, making a fishhook shape back towards yourself.  When it comes full-circle, close your four fingers again, to grip the cup.  Once you’re proficient you can go with a glass, but get good first.

Just as easy, is funny ways of opening beer bottles (with a church key – a flat bottle opener with a hole in the end so you can spin about a finger), by holding three bottles in one hand, and using a backhand motion to rapid‑fire the three caps.

There are dozens of tricks you can learn, like stalling (stopping a bottle in mid-motion by balancing it on the back of your hand, your upturned elbow, a shoulder, or even the top of your head) or mid-air captures of ice or garnishes.

If you want more information about how to be a bartender we can help with that.  If you want to flair, that’s going to be up to you.  Getting good at that will get you a well-paying job or it will get you on TV.  One of those “…Got Talent” shows probably wants you.

In the meanwhile, drop by our website for a visit at: so we can train you in the basics you’ll need to even attempt to do flair-bartending.  Even if you don’t end up on “SomeCountry’s Got Talent” at least you can Get a Better Job!