Are you a flair bartender? Are you in the UK? Are you good looking enough to be in front of a video camera?
A casting agent named Vicki contacted me this week looking for help in finding a flair bartender to appear in a new drink promo video. A well known brand is releasing a new can and is looking for the right flair bartender to help them make a big splash in the video they’re producing. Filming will take place in London sometime over the next few weeks, including a test run in Brighton at the production company’s base. The video will involve flairing at a bar while being recorded by a state of the art super slow-motion camera. The right candidate will be a professional flair bartender, in or near the UK, and have a sharp, suave, attractive look.
Think you fit the bill?
For more info, or to audition, send Vicki an email at: vicki (at) krutalent (dot) com.
Pssst… Those are all the details I have. I love getting emails from people, but if you email me asking about what it pays, the exact date, or whether or not I think you’d work… I got nothing for ya. Get at Vicki. Put a good face forward in your email (and tell her FBTV sent you!)
The short answer is: all of the above. And then some.
When I first picked up a bottle and decided to clumsily throw it around, I had never heard the term “flair bartending”. I hadn’t seen anyone else doing it either. I just liked flipping the bottles. As time went on, I wanted to find others like me, others interested in doing more with bottles than just pouring from them. So I sat down at a computer and went to Google. What to type? Bottle juggling? Bartending tricks? Fancy bartender? I had no idea that there was a name for what I was searching for (this was still 7 years before YouTube!)
Eventually I found the Flair Bartending Association’s website… and the company FlairCo… and the online magazine FlairBar.com. So, it’s “Flair Bartending” then, right? Well, for the most part. As Wikipedia explains it: “Flair bartending is sometimes referred to as “extreme bartending” or contracted to “flairtending.” The word flair became popular among practitioners in the mid-1990s.” I’ve also heard people call it trick bartending or show bartending – there’s even a company called Showtenders® who do showtending®. So which is it?
The generally accepted term for what we do is flair bartending. If you live outside North America (as nearly half of FBTV’s users do) you’ll occasionally see the spelling “flare bartending” – another phonetic spelling of “flair”. Search Google for “flare bartending” and it will likely auto-correct it to “flair bartending” for you since it considers “flare” a misspelling. However, if you live in the Philippines, it’s just straight up “flairtending”.
So there you go. One big world, a number of ways to say it, and tons of people doing it.
On a similar parallel: I find it interesting that with the rise of craft cocktails and mixology in the last 5-10 years, many would-be “mixologists” shun the term. I know a number of amazing cocktail professionals who roll their eyes at the term “mixology,” associating it sometimes with a certain air of douchebaggery or false hipsterism. It seems people outside the industry call it mixology; people within the industry simply refer to bartending, or at best craft cocktails. It’s intriguing to me because I had a similar response when I first heard the term “flair bartending.” Keep in mind this was the same year the movie Office Space was released, poking a lot of fun at TGIFridays for their “pieces of flair” – so much so that the national chain changed their approach to “flair” shortly thereafter. I wanted to flip bottles like a badass; I didn’t want to be this guy. Eventually, both with flair bartending as with mixology, I realized that love it or hate it, that’s what people call it. You gotta accept it and move on. Pick up your bottles and get to work.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter if you call it Flair Bartending, Flairtending, Extreme Bartending, or anything else – just as long as you keep flipping bottles, give GREAT service, share with others, and of course, practice practice.
One thing I don’t talk about enough on here is the important of service. I spend a lot of time teaching flair bartending moves, focusing on trying to help bartenders improve their skills at flipping bottles, tossing tins, and putting on a show. However, all of this means nothing if you don’t start with good service.
Good service means giving people what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. It means being quick, efficient, and friendly – even if you’re having a bad day. Being a good bartender means recognizing your regulars, knowing what they drink, calling them by name, and making them feel special. It means making every customer feel special. It means if you are new to bartending, put down the flair bottle and tin, and focus on these other things first. My love for flair bartending is surpassed only by my angst over poor service.
As a flair bartender, it is so important that you be a good ambassador of flair. The popularity of our sport grew rapidly in the ’90s and ’00s but has waned a bit in the last 5-10 years – in part because flair bartenders got a bad reputation, justified or not, as being showboats who put entertainment first before being a good bartender. Ironically, nearly every professional flair bartender I have met in my 15 years could work a whole shift, never flip a single bottle, and still make all of their customers love them and want to come back. As flair bartending begins to grow its audience again, it’s monumentally important that the new crowd of flair bartenders learns to do the same. Take to heart the FBA’s motto: “Service First, Flair Second, Competition Always.”
If you’ve managed to make a career as a bartender, you’re well aware of the importance of exceptional service; it’s in your blood. If you’re new, it’s important that you follow in their footsteps.
A tip of the hat to Dave Simpson of the Avenue Classic Bar, as he puts it: “If you can forget about being the centre of attention and focus on the customer, you’ll never go wrong.”
In case I haven’t properly introduced myself yet: Hi, my name is Chris. I’ve worked in hospitality for over 18 years, the last 15 of them as a bartender. You might know me from my instructional flair bartending videos. However, in the last two years I’ve started working more in depth with the beer industry as well. Still love my flair – in fact, the new job has finally allowed me the time to develop the FlairBartending.TV website and videos – but I mostly make my money nowadays from teaching people about beer. I love what I do.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being on Chicago TV channel WGN to talk about beer & food pairing in support of an upcoming festival, the American Beer Classic. If you’d like to see what I do when I’m not flipping bottles, here’s the segment. At the very end, he asks me about my website, which I had no idea he even knew about. Anyway, he got me a little tongue-twisted and I ended up saying I had 5 million YouTube “subscribers” which is a bit of an overstatement! I meant to say 5 million YouTube views (between the new and old channel.) Whoops. Ah, well, gotta dream big!
I got an email from a casting agent at NBC’s TV show America’s Got Talent; they are looking for flair bartenders to audition for this season. They’ve already filmed some episodes of the show and are looking to fill a flair bartending spot pretty quickly. The right person or team will have to be 1) talented, 2) unique, and 3) American (sorry my non-US people, it’s an American show). I would be auditioning for the spot myself but my schedule is taking me overseas for the next two weeks. If you’ve got a unique, impressive style, you should give it a shot. Also, after chatting with the casting agent I feel like two people doing a solid tandem routine would have a better shot – they’ve had flair bartenders before and they’re looking for something that really stands out.
My understanding is that you’ll need to submit a 90 second audition tape of your routine. They want to have this wrapped up very quickly – as in this week or next – so get on it asap. That’s all the information I have. If you’re interested, email me from my Contact Form and I’ll pass along the casting agent’s info. Be sure to select “America’s Got Talent” in the subject line and include your email/contact info.
Share this post on Facebook with anyone you think would like the opportunity. Good luck! Can’t wait to see you on TV!