A Shot Of Flair

Jordana Rothman surveys the current market for “flairtending”:

Ask almost anyone about flair bartending and Cocktail is what comes to mind: A kind of acrobatic showmanship that just happens to produce an alcoholic beverage — it’s Benihana for the drinking set. In the 25 years since the movie came out, that kind of theatrical bartending has not aged well, as bars have become shrines dedicated to serious drink-making. In the current age of studious bartenders, too much stagecraft is taboo. The mixology movement worships ingredients, classic recipes, and tools. There is no room for extraneous moves designed to please the crowd but have no conceivable impact on the taste of the cocktail.

But the art is not completely dead. Rothman quotes Tobin Ellis, a founder of the Flair Bartenders’ Association:

“At some point it starts to happen naturally. You see people trying to figure out how to stir four cocktails at once, or hold two or three jiggers in one hand. It becomes a question of efficiency mixed with a little bit of style.”