Looking at flair bartending school options

If you are trying to find a flair bartending school it's likely you already know the story of Jerry "The Professor" Thomas and his legendary mixed drink, the Blue Blazer.  Jerry Thomas is often seen as the father of mixology in the United States and not only made an entire library's worth of mixed drinks and new cocktails, but also developed an entire showmanship to go with serving these new cocktails.  This is the earliest form of flair bartending, both in what is now called working flair (the ability to pour many drinks at once, and accurately) and in the tossing bottles and showmanship that most people think about now when they talk about this particular form of skill and entertainment.

If you haven't heard about the biography of Jerry Thomas, it's worth the read for anyone who wants to firmly understand the history of drinking, mixed drinks, or specialized bartending.  When you want to know how flair bartending came to be, the story has to start with Jerry "The Professor" Thomas.  He is also the author of several guides to mixed drinks and codified and wrote down recipes that previously had been passed on by word of mouth. In brief, he was the father of the modern bartender, the patron saint of flair bartending. Because of his work back in the 1800's bartending has evolved into what it is today.

Modern flair bartending and how to learn it

There are three schools of thought when it comes to how to learn this particular style and skill - and there's no reason they can't overlap.  In fact many people just beginning to learn the basic skills start by self teaching themselves the very basic and then moving on from there.  Those three potential options for learning are:

  1. Apprenticeship learning directly from another flair bartender who is trained and more accomplished than you are at this point.
  2. Self learning based on practice, practice flair bartending materials, or a DVD or video tutorial course.
  3. Going to a flair bartending school in order to learn from professionals and get an FBA certification that is widely recognized.

Choosing one of these paths doesn't necessarily preclude the others as for many people the interest starts with seeing some examples - maybe on YouTube or maybe during an actual Las Vegas bar where you get to see it first hand.  After picking up a trick or two you then become hungry to learn more and more which is where the school comes in.

Looking at working and show flair bartending instruction

Most flair bartending schools will teach both schools of flair, the working flair and the show flair.  These are two very different styles that serve very different purposes and should be seen as such.  The reason for this is that many of the instructors of flair bartending are old school, believing that service is of greater importance than showmanship when it comes to satisfied bar patrons, and more money will be earned behind the bar than in any number of flair competitions.  Additionally true exhibition flair can be dangerous with a customer just inches away and broken bottles, spilled alcohol, or a fireball gone awry is just bad for business.  However most of these specialized flair bartending schools will teach both methods and help provide guidance for the right time to use both.

To find a flair bartending school or for more information about flair bartending you might consider signing on with the FBA, or Flair Bartenders Association. While the FBA does not endorse one bartending school over another they do state that some schools are better than others and most top bartending schools offer courses in flair. Bottom line is to research what each school has to offer before sending them your money. If school isn't the route for you many casinos, restaurants, and clubs also offer flair training, though you might have to work your way from the ground up.

A full flair bartending guide and kit

Professional Bartending Premium Kit
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Mar 25, 2016)
This is one of the best guides available online if you want a fully stocked kit in order to practice your efficiency as well as your moves. This is a skill that takes a good deal of time and practice to master so you will want to make sure that you have all the materials you need to master every aspect of flair bartending and to develop the skills you need in order to master this stunning skill set.

What About Self Teaching the Skills of Flair?

If you are the self-motivated and driven sort of individual you may be able to successfully teach yourself basic flair bartending by utilizing the vast array of free online lessons, DVD instructional videos or online bartending schools. You may also consult the FBA and find out about training seminars that might be in your area.  While this won't give the certification from the FBA that can be extremely helpful, you can pick up on the skills and prove to potential employers that you have them.  That's a big plus.

One last tip for finding a flair bartending school is to learn more about the history of flair bartending and learn more of the names behind the beloved art. Many contest winners have become trainers themselves or teach seminars. It isn't hard to believe that those who can teach it the best are the ones that can do it the best. Use these resources to help you find a flair bartending school that's right for your schedule, budget, and career ambitions.  These vary greatly from one program to another and this means that while one school might seem out of budget or out of reach, another one might be the perfect fit so don't give up that search!

Basic flair bartending move video lesson

Great flair bartending DVD for working flair

Flair Bartending: Working Flair Series
Amazon Price: $19.98 $12.01 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 25, 2016)
This flair bartending DVD teaches you all about how these skills work - and focuses primarily on the working flair, which is good to pick up on the skills that will help you kill it at the busiest bars where speed and efficiency is necessary but the tips are also great because of it.