Almost 20 years after Tom Cruise introduced flair bartending to the world in the 1988 movie Cocktail, performance bartending is more popular than ever.
Today, flair bartending skills are more extreme, tricks are more sophisticated and customers are hungrier than ever for high entertainment value while sipping creative libations in some of the best clubs around the world.
T.G.I. Friday's in Marina Del Rey, California is considered to be the birthplace of flair bartending back in 1985, and the industry has continued to flourish ever since.
Not surprisingly, Las Vegas is the current mecca for performance bartending in casino clubs like Carnival Court, the Shadow Bar and the independent Red Room Saloon. Flair bars are also prolific in cities like London, Seoul, Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Many flair bartenders test their metal at world-class competitions such as the elite Legends of Bartending World Bartender Championships. Bartenders are tested on four disciplines of bartending: accuracy, speed, working flair and exhibition flair.
The Godfather of flair training is Canadian Scott Young, a long-time flair bartender at Vancouver's The Roxy. The FBA (Flair Bartenders Association), an international non-profit organization with representatives in over 50 countries, recognized Young for having the most impact internationally as a trainer.
While performance bartending is meant to generate excitement, bartenders still need to be skilled in the burgeoning art of mixology.