Good Flair Requires Good Service First

One thing I don’t talk about enough on here is the important of service. I spend a lot of time teaching flair bartending moves, focusing on trying to help bartenders improve their skills at flipping bottles, tossing tins, and putting on a show. However, all of this means nothing if you don’t start with good service.

Good service means giving people what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. It means being quick, efficient, and friendly – even if you’re having a bad day. Being a good bartender means recognizing your regulars, knowing what they drink, calling them by name, and making them feel special. It means making every customer feel special. It means if you are new to bartending, put down the flair bottle and tin, and focus on these other things first. My love for flair bartending is surpassed only by my angst over poor service.

As a flair bartender, it is so important that you be a good ambassador of flair. The popularity of our sport grew rapidly in the ’90s and ’00s but has waned a bit in the last 5-10 years – in part because flair bartenders got a bad reputation, justified or not, as being showboats who put entertainment first before being a good bartender. Ironically, nearly every professional flair bartender I have met in my 15 years could work a whole shift, never flip a single bottle, and still make all of their customers love them and want to come back. As flair bartending begins to grow its audience again, it’s monumentally important that the new crowd of flair bartenders learns to do the same. Take to heart the FBA’s motto: “Service First, Flair Second, Competition Always.”

If you’ve managed to make a career as a bartender, you’re well aware of the importance of exceptional service; it’s in your blood. If you’re new, it’s important that you follow in their footsteps.

A tip of the hat to Dave Simpson of the Avenue Classic Bar, as he puts it: “If you can forget about being the centre of attention and focus on the customer, you’ll never go wrong.”