Flair bartending has been around for many years, 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 (you can read our interview with this legend here).
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. John Bandy is of course most well known for teaching many of his tricks to the actors in the film ‘Cocktail’.
With the next generation of flair bartenders moving eagerly though the ranks we thought it would be a good time to recognise our roots and find out where exactly some of today’s flair bartending moves originated:
(Unfortunately we couldn’t find photos for all of the bartenders doing the moves mentioned, so we have settled with photos of the bartenders instead)
1. The Mouth Stall
Who: Believed to be either Florian Beuren or Simone Bodini, both were doing it around the same time.
Where: For Florian a practice room in London. For Simone it was at the world famous Roadhouse.
2. The Elbow Bump
Who: Leigh Miller
Where: A flair room unknown. The story goes he was working on an over the should stall and one of his attempts was a bump off the elbow and so the elbow bump was born.
3. The 2 Bottle Roll On 1 Arm
Who: Florian Beuren
Where: A practice room somewhere in London.
4. The 4 Bottle Juggle
Who: Alan Mays
Where: Quest for the Best Flair Competition
5. The ‘Magical’ Straw Hover
Who: Stefan Haneder
Where: Austrian Regional Competition
6. The Behind The Head
Who: John Bandy
Where: TGI Fridays Los Angeles
7. The T shirt Bump
Who: Neil Garner
Where: TGI Fridays Regionals
8. The 4 Bottle Multiplex
Who: Ken Hall
Where: Quest Flair Bartending Competition (The Speciality Round)
9. Bottle Through Finger Spin
Who: Wayne Collins
10. Helicopter On The Tin
Who: Nicolas Saint-Jean or Bill Long at Quest for the Best in the early 90s. (Currently we only have proof of Nicolas)
Where: Roadhouse World Finals. The story goes that Nicolas Saint-Jean slid the bottle out of the tin from a nest to catch sideways on the tin and then pushed it around to create the helicopter, However it was Neil Garner and Toby Hilton who adapted the move by throwing it in a helicopter and then landing it on the tin.