"Flair" skills nets Texas student spot in Legends of Bartending competition
There's more to bartending than just mixing a cocktail. Showmanship is part of the package in the sport known as flair bartending. A junior hospitality management major at the University of North Texas is such a good bartender that he won a regional flair bartending competition and is eligible to compete in the Legends of Bartending World Finals in Las Vegas.
Edward Blake, who has worked at three Dallas restaurants and nightclubs, has been a flair bartender for the past six years. Flair bartending is a type of showmanship where the bartender flips bottles, garnishes, and mixing equipment while entertaining bar patrons or a crowd. It's similar to what's depicted in the movie "Cocktail."
"I thought flair bartending would be fun to do, so I learned how to do it," Blake says. "Most people think it's what Tom Cruise did (in that movie), but it's more than that. You have to be both fast and accurate, while putting on a show. And, you can't drop anything or break any bottles."
In the regional flair bartending competition held in Houston, Blake was not only judged on his performance skills in the exhibition round of the contest, but in two additional rounds. He was timed while making six pre-selected drinks for the speed round, and was tested in an accuracy round which measured the accuracy of his liquor pouring. He competed against twelve other bartenders from several states as well as two competitors from Argentina.
Blake has been a bartender at Tryst Restaurant and Bar south of downtown Dallas, the Purgatory nightclub in Deep Ellum and the Clear Ultra Lounge in downtown Dallas. He also teaches part time at AIMS Academy bartending trade school in Carrollton near Dallas. Blake has won several contests, including the advanced division of the Flair Bartender's Association Quest for the Best Bartender, held in Orlando.
Blake says likes dealing with all sorts of different people in his bartender jobs.
"If I can make somebody's day, it's all worth it. Plus, it pays very well sometimes. Other days, you hardly make anything with tips," he says.
But he doesn't plan to make bartending a long-term career. He plans to become a corporate restaurant trainer or manager once he graduates from UNT.
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