Building on our previous foray into the history of flair bartending, now we’re going to offer our very own beginner’s guide to the art.
Before we get into the swing of things, there are a few ground rules we should address:
* It might be easier said than done, but try not to break or spill anything
* Another obvious one, but don’t say we didn’t warn you – don’t flair, flip or spin bottles, glasses and shakers too close to audience members
* In fact, we wouldn’t recommend showing off any flair bartending moves in front of people full stop until you can pull them off repeatedly to a consistent standard
* Finally, if your hand-eye coordination isn’t the greatest, the odds are stacked against you being able to master flairtending, unfortunately
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, onto the starting essentials. Luckily there isn’t a big, long list of must-haves – all you’ll need is a selection of discarded glasses and bottles of various sizes and weights, duct tape and a Boston cocktail shaker. You were probably going to throw the bottles away anyway, and your practice sessions give them a last lease of life before carting them off for recycling.
Fill the bottles up to varying extents to give a range of different weights, and then smother them in duct tape. This offers them some protection against drops, and should contain the shards if the glass shatters on impact.
There are more formal practice bottles and weighted shakers available, but you might want to start with little-to-no monetary investment to see if flair bartending is for you, before you spend money on flairing equipment.
We would also suggest giving yourself plenty of space to practice in – somewhere where you won’t get disturbed or distracted, and where there isn’t anything precious or breakable nearby.
Right, now we can get onto the good stuff – the tricks themselves. There isn’t really any substitute for seeing them done in person, but we’ll do our best to describe some of the classic moves that you’ll have seen in bars, films and so on.
The glass catch
A straightforward place to start, hopefully. Throw a few ice cubes in the air, and catch every single one in a glass or shaker. You’re never going to set the world on fire with this trick, admittedly, but it is a lovely cherry on the top after you’ve blown your audience’s socks off with the rest of your display.
The palm spin
A staple of the flair bartending diet, so to speak. The palm spin involves spinning the bottle or shaker a full 360 degrees (720 degrees if you’re feeling brave) on the palm of your hand – in a clockwise direction if you’re using your right hand, or anti-clockwise on your left hand.
The thumb spin
Hold the base of a shaker, bottle or glass and spin it around your thumb – clockwise on your right hand. It might sound simple, but it isn’t!
Over the shoulder
A classic. Hold a bottle by the neck and hold it with the opening facing towards you. Now swing your arm downwards, making sure to whip the bottle over your shoulder once your arm passes your body. As the bottle falls in front of you, move your arm forward to catch it.
We’re only scratching the surface of the flair bartending world here, but there’s enough there to cobble together a small routine you could wheel out at your next gathering. Just make sure you’ve practised, practised and practised some more – you want your flairing to look effortless, not studied and practised, even though it is.