There’s a priceless interview in the Washingtonian with a couple of flair bartenders at the Professional Bartending School in Arlington, Virginia. Flair bartending, for those who have not been initiated, is the art of simultaneously mixing a drink and being an insufferable show-off. It involves, technically speaking, a lot of throwing things in the air, but as this unintentionally hilarious Wikipedia entry notes, “good flair should be light-hearted and entertaining while making quality cocktails.” Also, it is sort of like Tom Cruise in Cocktail, except that he sucked.
That’s the verdict of the Pour Boys in the Washingtonian: “I hate when people say, ‘Hey, you’re like Tom Cruise!’ I’m nothing like Tom Cruise. That movie has probably done more damage for flair bartenders than anything else.” Herein the Pour Boys, a group of earnest, sweet-sounding flair bartenders in the DC area, come clean on:
The rigors of flair: “Until you master the bartending part, until you practice so much that your fingers have bled, I don’t want you to even attempt flair.” And this: “When I don’t break bottles, that’s when I know I’m getting lazy with my flair.”
The dangers of flair: “You can get hurt really badly. Like I was practicing at home and a bottle fell down on this bone [points to ankle] and I went straight to the floor. I stopped practicing for at least 30 minutes. But flair is a passion. Once you get in it, it’s very addictive.”
And on what makes for successful flair: “I’m just going to flip bottles, and it’s going to be real smooth and you may or may not notice it, and when you notice it you’re going to say, ‘Did he just do what I thought he did?’ Yes, I did.”