So, you've decided to enter a bartender competition but don't really know where to start? You need to create great drinks that are inspired and high quality whilst you compete with bartenders worldwide. Seems daunting? Don't panic, we've got your back...


How to prepare for a bartending competition

Follow these five tips below to give yourself a great chance of being successful in a bartender competition:

  • Less is more
  • Know your brand knowledge
  • Learn from the past
  • Your competition speech
  • Prepare your stock


Bartender serving cocktail competition

Less is more

Start with what you know.

As a bartender, you already know a lot about cocktails and you probably know about flavour combinations too? Use this to your advantage. The old saying 'less is more' is so applicable to a bartending competition and specific cocktail competitions. 

Don't try to use fancy, unique ingredients in cocktail making. A pickled doughnut liqueur cocktail is more risk than you can afford. Remember the cocktail basics and flavour combinations. A cocktail needs to taste good, it's that simple!

Refresh your skills in our advanced bartending course. Take a look. 


Know your brand knowledge

A bartender competition will usually have a brand sponsoring the competition. The competition judges expect you to have some knowledge of the brand in order to make a delicious cocktail. For example, Bacardi are sponsoring the bartending competition and require you to make a Bacardí rum cocktail. Study the brand's flavours, history and range. World class bartenders are able to adapt recipes to brands, creating special cocktails.

bartender pouring a cocktail

Learn from the past

One of the best things to do in preparation for a bartender competition is to watch past competitions. Watch some of the best in the bartending world push boundaries and battle each other. Learn how they compose themselves, how they build the cocktail, bring flavours together and present. You may find a similar style that you can build your style upon.


Your competition speech

You might be great at improvising but having that speech foundation is key! Start from something and build your way up, maybe even improvise along the way? 

Practicing the speech is very important for ensuring your performance is well done. The last thing you want is to be stuttering or constantly pausing to remember the word 'cocktail'. Practice makes perfect. 

bartender using bar spoon tool

Prepare your stock 

So, you're in the middle of a cocktail competition making a complex cocktail you've perfected for weeks now but suddenly they don't have the bitters you need! Panic stations. 

A bartender competition is likely to have everything you need but it's always good to check. Even better, if you doubt the competition has a certain ingredient or piece of equipment, just take it along. Being prepared is one of the most important considerations in bartending. Bartender of the year isn't won through 'winging it'.

Follow these five steps and you can guarantee a great performance in the bartender competition. You'll have the confidence to perform at your best ability against the world's best. Confidence and preparation is also key to flair competitions... 


How to prepare for a flair competition

Flair competitions come under the same remit as a bartender competition but it's still not exactly a cocktail competition. Flair is the art of performing tricks as a bartender behind the bar, whilst making cocktails. Here are our six top tips for flair competition success: 

  • Study the rules 
  • Practice 
  • Know your music 
  • Listen to expert advice 
  • Need for speed 
  • Prepare your station  

The best way to get prepared is to get expert practice experience. Read about our working flair course here. 

Study the rules

You wouldn't enter a competition you don't know the rules for, so why do it for flair? 

In a flair bartending competition you can lose points, as  well as gain points. Know what you can do and what you cannot do, to avoid this. Points are precious in flair competitions, so avoid those penalties like the plague. Points can be deducted for time, illegal moves or dropping a prop. 

Some restrictions include: bottle types, quantity of drinks to make and drinks making time. Ensure you know your stuff before competing!

working flair


Good flair routines look slick and free flowing. It looks almost effortless for a good flair bartender. This is all down to practice. 

Practice, practice, practice. We can't emphasise this enough. Whether you're competing in a global competition or against local bartenders, they've probably done a lot of practice. Don't expect everything to fall into place on the day, prepare well in advance for the best results. 


Know your music

Doing flair to music helps you find your rhythm and remember each step better. It doesn't matter if it's a 90s house classic or even Club Tropicana, it helps! Practice with the music and think of cues in the song to help guide you through your routine. 

Tom Dyer bartender flairing behind the bar

Listen to expert advice

We have a little bit of advice from one of our own here. 

“Preparing for a flair competition is different for everyone. The key is to plan what you are going to practice. There is no point just going to the training room and throwing anything around, you need to set time aside for different types of practice. For example: creating new moves, working with different types of music, going over and over your routine until you have it perfect.” 

Tom Dyer, Multiple Flair World Champion and EBS Board of Education Member


Need for speed 

Flair competitions require a slick routine but the more you can into your routine, the better. Each different move is points and points mean prizes. By utilising your time in the best possible way, you'll be racing through your routine with style. 

live bar EBS goa

Prepare your station

Are you going to place the bottles directly next to each other? Will they be touching? Will there be some distance between them? Knowing the best places to put your bottles will help you shave off precious seconds.

Those who are the best at flair and creating cocktails at the same time are fully prepared. This include your workspace. Knowing exactly where your bottles and other equipment are will help you enormously. You won't be wasting time and you won't pick up the wrong piece of equipment by mistake. 

Remember! Time means points and points mean prizes. 


Whether it's a small, local flair competition for beginners or a world class imaginative bartender competition, these steps are key. Those at the top of their game follow this advice and become winners. 

Feel inspired to get into bartending? Take a look at our EBS Bartender Courses here.