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Here s one opinion: flair bartending is no more bartending!

I rather dislike flair bartending - or lets concretize: exhibition flair.
Not that I don't value the work, dedication and skill, which is needed to be a good flair-bartender. But what does flair bartending has to do with real bartending?

Yes - the flairer is using bottles and shaker tins, but really, this could be also pins and… I don't know what. The focus of bartending is culinary. The idea of flair-bartending is: entertainment.

Here are 10 points, why I dislike flair-bartending:

  1. Most drinks produced in exhibition-flairs are either way as simple as a screwdriver or just horrible and undrinkable.
  2. Waiting for a drink >10 minutes - which is substandard kinda sucks.
  3. Flair-bartenders are often dicks to male guests - always focussing on the ladies around.
  4. Flairers are living in a farraginous 80's world - the drinks are usually accordingly.
  5. Flair bartenders usually have this behaviour, to get recognition from the audience - and I just can't stand the stupid winks and false grins.
  6. The arrogance, which surrounds a rather successful flair-bartender is sickening.
  7. All the moves and shebang usually has nothing to do to really prepare the drink.
  8. Flair-bartenders are usually earning top dollar for being "flair monkeys" and a lot of these guys don't even have a clue about bar-knowledge. 
  9. Flair bartenders usually do "performances" and don't consistently showcase their abilities.
  10. Its just superficial.
Note, that these 10 points are the points of my personal perspective.

A very good question is: is flair bartending anyway bartending?

I would say it isn't! And that is why:
  • Bartending is about the quality focus of a beverage.
  • Another focus is also, to host guests, and let them look good [and not necessary yourself].
  • Instead of focussing on spirit quality, flair bartenders focussing on how good the bottle is "flairable".
  • Exhibition flair is "a circus number" which just happen to include bartending tools and routines.
Especially the last point, is a convincing path: Exhibition flair is [if done right] a joggling number. 

The question though is not, if flair bartending has a "raison d'être". And most who know me, will be surprised that [despite of my dislike] I think, that it has its very right to exist. But I rather see it in another category - it is not really bartending, but entertainment. 

Yes - flair-bartending [the act] has as much to do with bartending as knife thrower has something to do with a chef. Chef and knife thrower are both using the same tool, however their focus is widely different.
Every venue, which needs entertainment and performances can employ flair bartenders. But it is evident, that these outlets are on the opposite spectrum from outlets which focus on mixology and quality bartending.

But there is even more meat to the bone. We talked about exhibition flair. But there is also work-flair, which has a lot to do with bartending. A bartender who does work-flair [just incorporate artistic moves into the routine drink preparation] can be compared with a teppanyaki chef. While "artistic moves" are not a proof for the culinary abilities of the chef, it is much more connected, than the "flair" alone. And work flair is one way to bring some magic back to the bar [I would consider drinks like the blue-blazer also part work flair].

Just another funny video:

What is your take on flair bartending? Please comment below!


  1. Jerry Thomas drink, the blue blazer. Look it up, performance has always been a part of bartending.

    1. Ok - first: what is so bloody difficult to use a name for comments?
      I guess, it is not difficult at all. So just do it.
      Second - I never said that the Blue Blazer is not from Jerry Thomas! I am not sure, if he is the inventor - but yeah - the picture of him performing the Blue Blazer is quite famous.
      And yeah - entertainment is kind of part of bartending. But sometimes [like in a lot of fields] something assume an independent reality... and you have to get back on "the real" reality.
      I think that exhibition flair hasn't got the image, to present our craft in a professional and good light.

  2. So glad you posted this! I thought i might be the only guy that thought this. And using the term mixologist is smug and arrogant. What is wrong with the term bartender?

  3. By the way, I wasn't suggesting you were using mixologist...I just feel like it falls into the same category with flair bartending...pure ridiculousness. Again, thanks for posting this.


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