Discover The History of Flair Bartending

Flair Bartending, we all know it well but do you know where it came from? Inspired by our adoration of all things bartending we have used various articles and news stories from across the world wide web to put together the history of this glorious thing we call flair bartending.

Sometimes referred to as ‘extreme bartending’, ‘bar tricks’ or ‘flairtending’, the word flair rose to fame in the mid 1990’s. Flair can include almost any manipulation of a bar tool such as a cocktail shaker or even a bar napkin. Often employed to differentiate establishments and entertain guests, flair bartending in today’s world has become more than just a marketing technique for bar and club owners or a past time for bored bartenders. Flair Bartending has evolved into its own discipline attracting bartenders from around the world to understand its secrets and its tricks – however as with all impressive skills, practice makes perfect.

The History of Flair Bartending

The earliest record of anything that would come close to a flair bartender is the mention of a man called Jerry ‘The Professor’ Thomas who poured firey streams of boiling water and flaming whisky, mixing an original called the Blue Blazer in the 19th century. Other than this early mention Flair Bartending is thought to have emanated out of the T.G.I Fridays Company, specifically at their establishment in Los Angeles with a man called John Bandy.

As the story goes, John Bandy was awfully bored at some point in the ’80s and was tired of the same old meet and greet with the customers and so, he decided to switch it up. He began experimenting with all manner of bar tools, teaching himself how to frisbee toss bar napkins and catch a flying cocktail tin behind his head. In fact it was John Bandy who taught the actors in the only other great contributor to Flair Bartending in history, the film Cocktail.

Love it or hate it, the film Cocktail featuring Tom Cruise helped spread flair bartending across the USA and eventually the world. Within 8 years of the film, there was a huge demand for training in flair bartending and John Bandy found himself performing training seminars in over 30 countries. This represented the birth of flair bartending as a mainstream discipline and something any professional bartender would need to have within their skill set. When the classic cocktail revival which came roaring back in the late 90’s early 2000’s, flair bartending proved itself to be more than a fad, flair was here to stay.

Continue reading the article on the WFA website here.

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