Starting anything new can be challenging, daunting and sometimes frustrating - even more so when it comes to learning flair bartending techniques.
Here are the five mistakes that I see newbie flair bartenders make all the time. Avoid these and you will improve faster, have much more fun and be way more motivated…
1. Too much too soon
Although I think it is important to challenge yourself to begin with (as I often say to my students, ‘there is always an upgrade’), you also need to understand and perfect the first move.
Taking your time to get the basics right at the very beginning, will mean that you can progress much more quickly later on. It will also give you the chance to develop your own style and creativity - which will naturally be incorporated into your flair style as you improve.
Not doing this will mean you’ll end up with a mess of different moves and ideas with no structure or style. The end result is that it takes much longer to break through into something beautiful, sexy or stylish that you can actually use confidently behind the bar.
2. Lack of practice
I get asked all the time, ‘can you give me tips on this move?’ Or, ‘what am I doing wrong here?’ In 90% of cases, the answer is normally PRACTICE MORE!
Understanding a move and how to perform it doesn’t take long. It is all about learning how to move your body in a particular way. Perfecting a move is practice. NOTHING ELSE.
I can teach anyone to land a move once. I can’t teach you to land it 10 out of 10 times. That’s down to you and how much practice you put in.
3. Learning from your mistakes
We all make mistakes and fail all the time. It’s part of the learning process - but the key is to understand where you went wrong and how you can change it.
What can you do differently to try and make the move easier for you, or how can you make it better for your style of flair bartending?
Look at your body position and your movement in general. Sometimes there are no mistakes, but it just looks messy, so focus on HOW you are doing things, not necessarily WHAT you are going.
4. Beating yourself up
Learning to flair can be frustrating and demotivating sometimes. You WILL make mistakes but that’s how you learn.
Just don’t beat yourself up. Learn to embrace and enjoy your mistakes and try to smile at them.
The sooner you enjoy the process of learning, the easier flair bartending will come to you.
TIP: When I am learning a new move I can sometimes get frustrated. But after I have tried the technique literally hundreds of times without success and I finally land the move, I then know it is possible! It becomes easier and easier every time after that.
My advice is to find the excitement in trying to land a new move, rather than focus on the frustration.
5. Not taking your own path
Comparing yourself to others is something we all do, and it’s tempting to notice how good other people can make flair look - but remember: they are not you. YOU have a personality and imagination, so use that to fuel your flair style and tricks.
There is no ‘wrong way to flair’. There is only YOUR way.
The sooner you follow your own path, the sooner you will start to enjoy your flair a lot more, and improve much more quickly.
I hope these tips help you improve and build your motivation to start using flair bartending more and more behind your bars. Enjoy the journey!
Get more invaluable flair advice and training from Tom on our flair bartender course.