Everybody has their own way of learning. For some it is more visual, for others it is more action based, perhaps even theoretical. With that in mind we have put together a list of our top 5 flair practice techniques. You may find some of you employ all of these techniques, maybe you use none of them, trying out different techniques can be a great way to foster creativity, get better at pulling off the moves you already know, learning new moves and styles and so much more.
So enough about that, lets get down to business…
1. The 10 out of 10
There will always be bartenders that as they develop, want to try out their biggest new move on stage, particularly if they are coming up through the ranks. Why not? It is a great way to establish yourself and show the rest of the field and the judges that you are to be noted. However, more often than not you will see this move flop and why? Because it isn’t ready yet. This technique is all about making sure your biggest and most badass move is ready for the stage. The 10 out of 10 practice technique is about trying to land that move 10 times in a row, with no mistakes. If you make a mistake, you start back at number 1 again.
Some bartenders will already do this and do it with more than 10 iterations. The higher the better and the more confident you will feel in performing your move. The repetition is key as this technique isn’t just about nailing a new move but also training your focus, ensuring that when you have nailed it 9 times in a row, you don’t relax too much and mess it up on number 10. You will feel the pressure, just as you do on stage, as you get closer and closer to your number. Repeat this technique time and again until you can do 10 in a row without the pressure getting to you – and the move will be ready.
2. Counting drops
This technique is great for practising sequences and whole routines in particular. There are bartenders out there that will repeat a sequence up to 100 times a day. The key isn’t necessarily about how many times you repeat it but what you learn from that repetition. Recording the data of your performance with each sequence is a great way to approach this, the only data you are interested in is drops.
By recording the amount of drops you make each time you perform a sequence you can understand where the mistakes are happening, from there you can try and understand why they are happening and make changes if need be to your routine.
3. Using your weaker hand
This is a great technique to take your flair bartending to the next level. All of the pros have this down and the only way you get there is through practice. The majority of flair bartenders are one sided, so don’t kick yourself if you are. It is natural to focus on your stronger hand but by pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone you open up the possibility for a whole host of new moves as well as broadening your ability to create new moves. If there are 100 moves you can do with your right hand, chances are you will be able to turn that into almost 200 moves by bringing your other hand into play independently.
Flair bartenders who can perform two handed moves, where each hand is as strong and as skilled as the other is a big scorer for competition judges. As a result, you will also become a more skilful and well rounded bartender, increase your dexterity and broaden your horizons in terms of the moves you can pull off and create. Not to mention your difficulty score will rocket!
4. Challenge yourself
As we all know, this technique isn’t unique to flair bartending. Many of us will have this as a mantra in life. This, like using your weaker hand, is also about taking yourself outside your comfort zone and is a proven method to help you come up with new moves. Set yourself a challenge to come up with a move that you have never seen anyone else do. It is always best to start with smaller challenges and work your way up, so if you aren’t quite at the level of creating something brand new, challenge yourself to throw a working flair bottle over your shoulder with a blind catch, challenge yourself to catch a bottle on your knee, or perhaps figure out a brand new stall no one has ever seen before.
By setting yourself the challenge, you have to figure out how to make it happen – this is why it is best to do something new because simply watching someone else do it on YouTube, wont be the same. The magic happens as you try, try and try again. Tom Dyer for example created a sequence where he could only catch bottles in his tins, as if his hands were tins. So he wasn’t allowed to use his hands or fingers at any point to catch the bottles. That is always a good one to try if you want something to get you off the mark.
5. To the beat
It is no great secret that flair bartending looks great, but it looks even better with music. By stimulating the eyes and the ears at the same time you will illicit a better response in both the judges and your audience. This is about performing actions, to the beat and in time with the music. Find a track or a mix and try to build a sequence of moves that flow with and compliment the music. Getting your flair to flow with the music is only going to make your flair look a lot better and help you develop your own style.
Some great examples are Roman Zapata who generally picks fast paced, aggressive rock music – his movement and flair on stage is the same. On the other hand, someone like Luca Valentin has more progressive and fluid electronic music, which again reflects his flair bartending style on the stage. For it to be a good meal, each ingredient on the plate needs to compliment the next. The same is true for the music you choose and the style in which you flair.