'Which are the best tricks to know?' 'I only want to learn a few moves, so what do you recommend?' I’m asked questions like this all the time.
I usually say, come up with at least one move with each item you are using behind the bar, and then alternate them whilst you’re making cocktails. It’s also useful to have a different move for each bottle, or a selection of bottles, so you keep some variety whilst working.
That being said, there is a plethora of different moves that can be utilised behind the bar and for show purposes, so these are the Top 5 flair bartending moves that I think you need to know - plus the reasons why.
The thumb roll move is so versatile that it can be used on pretty much anything you put your hands on. It can be an impressive move on its own or as a linking trick between other moves. It’s like the ultimate all rounder.
Once you learn how to do the thumb roll with one hand, learn it with the other, then learn it with other objects and in different ways and positions. The possibilities are endless and I am still finding new ways to incorporate this move into my own flair bartending routines.
As a last note, it helps your flair look more diverse, dynamic and also helps it flow a lot more. The thumb roll should be your best friend when it comes to flair bartending moves.
There are many different ways you can stall (or balance) a bottle, or any other object for that matter. The most common are hand stall, forearm stall and elbow stall.
It’s a move I think any bartender who wants to learn some flair should pick up, as it is impressive to see someone catch a full bottle on their body, and balance it, plus it gives you, as the performer, a moment to breathe, to accept appreciation and it helps with your own focus.
Learning a stall move will improve your ability to focus and enhance your cognitive and reaction skills, so that other flair bartending moves will be easier to learn.
As with the thumb roll, it is extremely versatile and you’ll find yourself trying to stall everything from a bottle, tin, glass, napkin or even a straw.
Possibly one of the most performed moves in flair bartending, it can also be performed with other objects, but learn it with a cocktail shaker first and take it from there.
A roll up the arm with a cocktail shaker is one of the most satisfying moves to perform. It helps you learn control and balance of the object as it rolls up your arm.
The beauty of this move too is that it is never really 100% perfected, even by the pros, as there is always the chance you may roll too fast or too slow, or even a little bit to one side or the other - so you are ALWAYS learning when performing this move.
Like the previous two, when you learn the roll, try with other objects and different types of rolls.
Any kind of pour
There are plenty of different ways to pour from a bottle, and learning a few different flair bartending pours is great practice, and in some cases will speed up your service.
There are three I want to mention here:
The Long Pour - Pouring from a great height into a glass or jigger, and ideally “cutting” the pour off at the top to see the liquid drop down exactly where it is supposed to go.
The Reverse Pour - This is when you hold the bottle in such a way that you pour in a “reverse” fashion. There are two different ways to do this.
The Cross Pour - This is being able to pour with two different bottles at different times from the same hand.
Learning different pouring moves isn't only impressive to your guests, but also makes it a lot more fun for you. You are pouring from bottles all the time, so why not mix it up and try a new way that makes you job more exciting.
And lastly... SMILE
Yeah, I know, cheesy, but it is VERY IMPORTANT when it comes to performing your flair. You should enjoy what you’re doing and show those watching that you enjoy it, as well.
You’ll find the audience/guests will appreciate it a lot more than someone who looks grumpy.