What is Flair Bartending?

Bars have long been a place of social gathering. They are an oasis for wine lovers, a haven for whiskey drinkers, a shelter for liquid gold lovers — and bartenders see it all. Everything from the reunions with friends, to birthday celebrations, to first dates, and heartaches.

Many bartenders get into the profession, because they are outgoing people who enjoy socializing with others. Being a bartender consists of so much more than simply pouring beers or mixing drinks, it’s about being able to create an enjoyable experience for the guest. Bartenders are constantly looking for new ways to help make the guest experience a better one. And that’s where flair bartending comes into play.

Flair bartending originated back in the 19th century and was made relevant to the bar world by American bartender Jerry Thomas. Jerry owned and operated many saloons in the New York City area. He was the first bartender to publish a drink book in the United States and developed elaborate and showy ways to serve his guest cocktails. Everything Jerry did was on a grand scale. He would often wear flashy jewelry and work with embellished bar tools and cups that had been adorned with stones and metals. It wasn’t just about serving a drink, it was about putting on a show, while being served the best drink around. Due to Jerry’s trailblazing advances in both mixology and flair, he is often referred to as “the father of American mixology.”

The hype for this creative take on traditional bartending grew over the years and eventually made it’s way from “The City That Never Sleeps” to “Sin City” itself. And what a better place for fun and flashy bartending than the place where you can drink all day and party all night? That’s right! Flair bartending took over Las Vegas, Nevada by storm. In fact, with its growing popularity, the Rio Casino once went full flair! Films like the movie “Cocktail” (1998), starring Tom Cruise, only helped spread this infectious trend. It was so widely sought after those bartenders who specialized in this style were making up to six figures on competitions alone.

If you’d rather be the main event, rather than the spectator, check out the Flair Bartenders’ Association (FBA) and see what it takes to become the master of drinks!


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