Beyond The Basics: What Is Flair Bartending?

what is flair bartending
Joe | Last Updated: November 24, 2023
I'm Joe, a veteran bartender with over a decade in the industry and a burning passion for mixing drinks.


A true art form that very few master, but those that do have the ability to dazzle their guests and keep them mesmerized for hours in a breathtaking performance.

But what is flair bartending? Is it just regular bartending with some added bottle spins and long-range pouring?

If you’ve ever been curious about the world of flair bartending then you’re in the right place. In this post, we’re going to go through everything you need to know about this type of bartending so that you’re fully informed.

So whether you’re a bartender looking to up your game or are a cocktail enthusiast that’s looking to learn more about the industry, this post is for you.

Let’s get cracking…

What Is Flair Bartending?

Flair bartending is a type of bartending that combines mixology with visual performance, resulting in a show-like, high-energy display that can captivate and entertain guests whilst being served drinks.

It’s a unique style of bartending that originated in the 1980s out of the United States, and it’s still performed all over the world today in competitions, events, and high-end establishments.

London is seen as the ‘mecca of the bartending world’, it has the most amount of high-end bars where many flair bartenders flock to show off their skills and compete with one another.

This style of bartending goes far beyond just mixing drinks, it incorporates different tricks, flips, and spins with bottles and uses all types of bar tools to amaze guests.

what is flair bartending
Image by Nathan Meijer

If you’ve ever seen a great flair bartender in action, then you’ll know what I mean when I say that these bartenders are SERIOUSLY impressive.

They often gather large audiences that watch them for hours whilst they serve drinks, it takes a high level of skill, dedication, and commitment to be a flair bartender, but it can be worth its weight in gold if the bartender masters it.

Flair bartenders often get paid MUCH more than regular bartenders as their ability to entertain guests is so valuable in high-end establishments.

Not the mention the tips they make.

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What Is The Purpose Of Flair Bartending?

The purpose of flair bartending is largely to entertain guests and help with customer engagement, as well as to provide them with an experience that they will never forget.

Flair bartenders create an atmosphere that is filled with visual excitement which gives guests an experience they won’t forget anytime soon, meaning there’s a high likelihood they’ll return and spread the word to friends and family.

It’s also a way for high-end establishments to set themselves apart from the competition and offer an experience that guests won’t find easily elsewhere.

This style of bartending can be found at events, promotions, product launches, and cocktail competitions, but it’s a bit of a rarity these days.

But it goes far beyond just entertaining guests, flair bartending is a competitive form of self-expression and creativity with individuals often competing with one another as part of their performance.

Flair bartending requires a very high level of skill, coordination, and practice. This can help bartenders increase their skills by being able to serve customers quickly and efficiently, which is highly valued in fast-paced establishments.

The best of the best flair bartenders may also gain industry recognition, earning accolades and gaining a reputation for their skills which can lead to many other opportunities.

Ultimately, flair bartending is a way for establishments and bartenders to dazzle and keep guests entertained for hours, which helps with brand awareness, customer engagement, and skill development.

What Are The Benefits Of Flair Bartending?

There are SOOO many benefits of flair bartending for both the establishment and the bartender, which is why it’s such a valuable and desirable skill.

Firstly, the entertainment value is much higher than a regular bartender which helps to attract and engage customers from all around the city to come for a drink.

The unique and memorable experience that customers have when being served by a flair bartender is one that they often remember for a very long time and discuss later with their friends, helping the business gain new customers.

It’s also a great way for high-end establishments to differentiate themselves from the competition as customers are much more likely to attend if they are being served by flair bartenders.

This can help beat the competition in cities with a thriving bar scene such as London and New York, making them stand out from the crowd and gain popularity.

Flair bartenders are incredibly visual which makes for endless marketing and social media opportunities for the establishment.

A video of a bartender performing tricks whilst serving a crowd can quickly go viral which can also contribute to attracting new customers.

what is flair bartending
Image by Nathan Meijer

For the bartender, there’s a VERY high likelihood that they’ll earn a lot of money in tips each night (if they are good that is).

Customers who are impressed with the bartender’s skills and appreciate the effort that went into the performance are more likely to show their appreciation by tipping the bartender.

Depending on the establishment, flair bartenders can also gain massive exposure through social media which can lead to more exciting opportunities.

Top flair bartenders are often rushed off their feet performing at events, weddings, and many other gigs all around the city every single day.

As you can see, the benefits of flair bartending are endless for both the bartender and the establishment, it’s a great way to attract more visitors and give the bartender exposure.

Winner winner – chicken dinner.

How Much Do Flair Bartenders Make?

The amount of money a flair bartender can make depends on a number of factors including their skill level, geographical location, and the establishment they work in.

According to ZipRecruiter, the national average salary for a flair bartender in the United States is $33,699 annually (without tips). This works out to be $16/hour, which is equivalent to $648/week or $2808/month.

That said, it’s important to remember that this is their basic pay without tips, and in bartending, tips are where bartenders often make most of their money, especially those who are good.

The number of tips a flair bartender makes will vary widely, but it’s not uncommon for them to take home hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars per night on busy shifts.

Establishments that are high-end often have customers who have a lot of money, and therefore, are more likely to generously tip the bartender.

It’s also important to note that flair bartenders who compete in competitions or have a strong social media presence can often command higher salaries from employers.

Salaries can reach up to $150,000 annually or more in some cases depending on the location and establishment.

How To Learn Flair Bartending

There are many ways to learn flair bartending but all will require patience, dedication, and MANY of hours of practice to become good at this style of bartending.

The first step is to learn the basics and become familiar with bar tools, how to serve customers, and the different types of cocktails.

Nailing the basics is essential as bartenders will need to make sure they are fully confident behind the bar and with all instruments, tools, and drinks, before proceeding.

But once they are past this stage, they can begin to practice at home by trying basic tricks such as bottle flips, spins, and juggling.

These are the foundations of flair bartending, so many practice with empty bottles and learn how to do these exceptionally well before moving on to more advanced tricks.

You’ll also be glad to know that in today’s modern world just about anything can be found online, including flair bartending tutorials on YouTube.

what is flair bartending
Image by Nathan Meijer

There are many excellent YouTube videos of skilled bartenders showing you how to add some flair to your performance.

But if you REALLY want to get serious, the best way to go about it is to take a flair bartending course.

These courses can be done online, but they are better in person as you can be taught by an expert flair bartender who will teach you all the tips and tricks of the trade.

Keep in mind that it’s going to take time to become good at this style of bartending, often those who work in high-end establishments have been in the game for decades and have been regular bartenders for years beforehand.

But don’t let that discourage you, becoming a skilled flair bartender can be achieved quickly too so long as you put the time and effort in.

If this is something you’re serious about, my advice would be to watch guides on YouTube, enroll in an in-person course, and practice at home in the meantime.

Flair Bartending Competitions

The flair bartending world is a competitive one, with individuals battling it out in front of judges to win prizes, titles, and recognition within the community.

This is a great way of gaining exposure for these bartenders as well as networking with other like-minded bartenders at the top of their game.

Competitions are held regularly all over the world, with the WorldFlairAssociation providing all the details on the latest and upcoming competitions.

The competitions usually consist of multiple rounds where bartenders perform routines that involve a number of tricks, bartending skills, and choreography.

The panel of judges will score each bartender on a number of criteria, including creativity, showmanship, and overall skill and talent.

Prizes can vary depending on the competition but most include cash prizes, trophies, and other incentives.

I’ve attended a couple of competitions in London and have to say they were AWESOME. The atmosphere is electric and it’s amazing to see so many talented bartenders in one place.

If you ever get the chance to attend a flair bartending competition, I highly recommend you do.

Wrapping Up

To wrap up, flair bartending is a style of bartending that encompasses entertainment, style, and creativity while serving drinks to customers in order to captivate and entertain guests.

It’s a pretty niche area of bartending that is still thriving today, with competitions held all over the world on a regular basis to win prizes.

Flair bartending is a recognized and respected area of bartending that is highly sought after, with the top performers in the industry bringing home big salaries and even bigger tips.

Whether you’re a bartender yourself or simply appreciate the art of cocktail making, experiencing flair bartending is sure to leave you amazed and with a memorable evening.

Thanks for taking the time to learn more about flair bartending today and I hope you’ve learned something new today.

See you in the next one!

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