A No Nonsense approach to Flair Bartending, Craft Cocktails and High Volume Service.

by Danny Seigel

(An article from Flairbar.com – http://flairbar.com/articles.cfm )

“We don’t have time for that here.” – For seven years, these words have rung in my ears as an ever present challenge that has distilled itself into two fundamental questions:  Can Flair bartending be utilized efficiently in a high volume service establishment? Moreover, can craft cocktails with creative & fresh ingredients be served efficiently in said establishments?  In my experience and after much discussion with several industry professionals, I’ve found the answer is the same for both questions- Yes, but only with diligent preparation and execution.

Flair Bartending & High Volume service

.Flair bartending has, to some degree, always had the stigma of providing slower and less efficient service. For many people even the mention of “Flair bartending” brings to mind thoughts of Tom Cruise’s iconic, “Hippy Hippy Shake” in the movie “Cocktail.” This is hardly the image of a working Flair bartender. Just like any other bartender, a working professional Flair bartender should maintain the pace, standards, and concept of service within any given venue. Additionally, they must work cooperatively and communicate well with other staff members. The Flair bartender should have their own style, but if they cannot adapt that style to work productively within the construct s of a business in a beneficial way they’re doing both themselves and the bar a disservice. So what does a professional working Flair bartender look like? The answer to this lies right within the question: A professional bartender, with Flair.

Technically speaking, Flair bartending is about incorporating the continuous use of small, quick, well executed tricks seamlessly into ones duties as a bartender. Simple finger rolls, stalls, palm spins, as well as, tosses and catches behind the back can all become second nature and can be woven into one’s bartending style with a modest amount of practice on the bartender’s behalf. This is mutually beneficial for the guest, bartender, and the business. Truly efficient Flair bartending should evolve into a continuous source of entertainment behind the bar that keeps guests engaged, entertained, and most importantly completely satisfied with the service provided.  By delivering that level of entertainment (whatever that level may be in a given venue) one creates within the guest a new perceived value. Ideally, this manifests itself by increasing the value of your product with no increase in the cost to produce it. 

It’s important to note: efficient and productive working Flair bartending does require consistent practice on the bartender’s behalf. It’s only through practice that the tricks & moves utilized at work can become a fluid and contiguous part of the bartender’s work.

Craft Cocktails and High Volume Service

.In speaking with bar managers, bartenders, and various drink slingers within a variety of concepts: i.e. casual bars, nightclubs, restaurant bars, hotel bars, party bars, and even Flair bars, the question often arises, “Why don’t you have a signature/craft cocktail program?”. As this article’s title may allude, the answer to this is always consistent: “We don’t have time for that here.” This rebuttal stems primarily from a misconception of what exactly, “craft cocktails” entail. For the sake of this article, I’m referring to cocktails that exceed the norm creatively in terms of ingredients and technique.  With that in mind, I will say, craft cocktails can be, to some degree, implemented in any establishment that serves spirits; With the right preparation.

It’s important to remember when developing a craft cocktail program that for as much creativity that goes into developing unique cocktails, it’s equally as important to develop cocktails that can be efficiently and profitably produced within a given business construct. If a cocktail’s technique slows the pace of service beyond acceptable standards, then it should not be one that is actively promoted with menu placement. The easiest way to circumvent this is through dedicated and systematic preparation of the bar. Victoria Fernandez, General Manager of Deck House Casual Dining in Carolina Beach, summarized this concept clearly, “If you’re going to make that commitment to crafting an amazing cocktail, it begins with your commitment to properly prepare to make it.” She continued, “If you’re going to do craft cocktails in a high volume environment, efficiency is the name of the game.”

Preparation for making great craft cocktails begins before the doors to the bar ever open. Primarily, the bar must be set up to incorporate fresh ingredients into a bartender’s workflow. Fresh juices, syrups, and infusions should be bottled, dated, and stocked and ready for use at the beginning of a bartender’s shift. It’s also essential that bartenders have all the appropriate tools readily at their disposal to make the cocktails they are responsible for. By the same token, there should be enough of the tools on hand that all bartenders working have them readily available. Working in South Florida, the veritable mojito capital of the United States, I can’t count the number of, “where’s the muddler?” scenarios I’ve encountered which in turn can cause an unnecessary slowdown in the pace of service that could have been avoided had the fundamental tools been provided. Efficiency behind the bar is not something that you, “set and forget.” The efficiency of a bar should be something consistently assessed and adjusted to maximize productivity and sales according to trends within the bar.

.So can Flair bartending and craft cocktails be used to drive business effectively in high volume establishments? Absolutely, however, the degree to which they are utilized is wholly unique to each individual venue.  It is in using our discretion as bartenders to determine when best to utilize each format that will ulitmately achieve the intended outcome in the long term. Corporate trainer with Dave & Buster’s Brad Kaplan summarizes this all very clearly when he states, “This is why I stress that we are not Flairtenders or Mixologists: those terms suggest that we are in our own little disengaged world. We are bartenders first. We tend to those guests who come to see us at our bars. When we add entertainment and drink quality then we have done our job.”

Original article: http://flairbar.com/articles.cfm

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