The first Prepare to Flair of 2018 took place at The Roadhouse this weekend just passed (18th February). We sat down with resident Roadhouse bartender and organiser of this great flair bartending competition, The Tony Mallin, to find out what Prepare to Flair is all about, how the first competition of the year went and more:
What is Prepare to Flair about?
“The Prepare to Flair concept has been running for a good few years at The Roadhouse. As a competition it has been through a few ups and downs over recent years, I became the organiser last year and with the help of The Roadhouse I have been trying to re-imagine it and tailor it more to the newest generation of bartenders coming through – after all that is what this competition is all about. Prepare to Flair is an opportunity for bartenders who may have been in the business for a few years but have never tried taking flair bartending to a competitive level. There are a fair few bartenders out there who may have even been bartending to a high level for a number of years but have still never really tried their hand at flair bartending. This competition provides a platform for these bartenders to get on the world renowned Roadhouse stage, in front of a crowd and practice flair bartending exhibition.
For many of these guys and girls they will have only tried flair bartending on stage maybe once or twice, for others it will have been never. If you class yourself as a beginner when it comes to flair bartending, then this is the competition for you to get used to performing on stage, in front of a crowd and against other bartenders. Prepare to Flair acts as a great draw for bartenders of all skill levels and nationalities, in particular we are promoting flair bartending in the UK in order to promote local talent. There are not many UK flair bartenders on the scene, I am one of only a few! We put the same rules and standards in place as other WFA flair bartending competitions so the bartenders know what to expect when and if they step it up to the professional level.
We offer feedback and training to help each bartender develop and try to tailor it to each person. We understand it is hard enough trying flair bartending in a competitive setting for the first time so we try to shorten that learning curve by really helping each competitor with good feedback and training to correct what might not be going right for them.”
The first Prepare to Flair of 2018 went to a bartender from the Be At One group and it is his second time competing at Prepare to Flair, having come 6th in his first competition last year – congratulations to Stepan Simanek. Second place went to Ricardo Tandurella and third place to Samuel Garcia Gonzalez. There is also a little bit of prize money up for grabs with first place getting £100, second £75 and third £25.
What was the atmosphere like?
“We had 20 competitors at this Prepare to Flair representing a great mix of people from London, the UK and abroad. There were competitors from some of the big bartending groups such as TGI Fridays, Be At One, EBS and more, which is always good to see as they often bring plenty of supporters with them. This creates a fantastic atmosphere as lots of people like to come down to support their fellow bartenders they work with as well as their friends.
This great atmosphere is just what you want at a beginners competition like this as it gives the competitors on stage a real boost. Regardless of how the feel going on to the stage, all of the competitors come off happy and itching to get back up and try again. This is exactly what we want, we want to see people enjoying it and wanting to come back and try again.”
Do you expect to see many of these new faces vying for spots in the larger competitions soon?
“There are certainly a good few bartenders who I expect to see stepping it up to a professional level of flair bartending, or who at least could do if they wanted to. For me this month’s winner, Stepan, could be one face we start to see more of. His progress from the 1st year to the 2nd has been great. So many of the bartenders that take part are starting to fall in love with flair and are showing the motivation to carry on. Jason Payne is another person who is very new to the scene but is coming on leaps and bounds. As is Cole Samuel Campbell who is one of the UK bartenders who could come on the scene and stir things up. Mike Webb is another who when we saw him in February 2017 at Prepare to Flair, won his first ever flair bartending competition. He then came back and won again in May 2017, hes got the style and the moves for sure but who knows if he will step it up to a professional level”.
“Prepare to Flair will return later in the year, however with the popularity of the competition growing we will have to wait and see how it will return. We are thinking about a Prepare to Flair Finals to see if we can cater for more bartenders who want to get involved… You will have to wait and see what we come up with…”