Craft Flair 101 with Tomek Malek

What is Craft Flair & how is it different?

Craft Flair is a discipline of working flair and it is dedicated to the creative use all the objects that are involved in making a cocktail. Traditionally flair bartending, especially performance flair, would focus on the bottle and the tin, Craft Flair brings in strainers, muddlers, bar spoons and more.

When we think about flair we often think about a bartender acrobatically throwing bar items up into the air and catching them in weird and wonderful ways. Craft flair puts less of a focus on the acrobatics and difficulty and more of a focus on the style. Everything from the style of movement the bartender adopts, to how they pour, strain, put the ice in your glass, garnish and more.

As craft flair has evolved from the work place the moves are focussed on ensuring you can serve the customer in the quickest and most efficient way possible, as there is often not a lot of space behind the bar with obstructions such as other bartenders, hanging glasses and more craft flair moves are often performed closer to the body but with the same objective as more traditional flair, to create an enjoyable and entertaining experience for the customer. Craft flair is more useful and stylish, than spectacular.


What are the best bar tools for Craft Flair?

The long spoons are fantastic for craft flair, in particular I like the Collinson spoon as it has the more traditional tear drop end. The tear drop end makes for the best and most controllable stirrer, whereas the extra length of the bar spoon gives you more time and space to adjust your fingers when rotating or twirling the bar spoon. The sheer size of the long bar spoons also add a bit of theatre to the whole cocktail making experience, which is always a plus.

craft flair

The plastic ice scoop is actually better than a metal one, it makes less noise – but metal can be ok wen the music is up high behind the bar. The ice scoop can be great to have a lot of fun with, it is a great tool for throwing and catching all manner of things – not just ice, but also other bar tools and garnishes!

Craft Flair

The round Hawthorne strainer is also a favourite of mine for craft flair moves. You will see me break down one of my favourite strainer moves below in the videos, however the strainer is a fantastic tool to flair with. Used so commonly now in cocktail making it is a tool you will often have opportunities to impress the customer with, so it is certainly worth working out a few cool and imaginative moves that you can do easily and efficiently behind the bar while you serve.

Craft Flair

How can you use Craft Flair in your everyday job as a bartender?

Craft flair has evolved from the workplace (or working flair) so naturally there are many different occasions when you can perform a simple action such as pouring or garnishing, in a cool and stylish way. Below you can see a video of Tomek at the Roots Cocktail Bar, performing a whole range of craft flair moves:

In this video Tomek breaks down one particular craft flair move which can be used as part of your working flair with ease:

Can Craft Flair be used effectively in flair competitions & performances?

Craft flair can be used really effectively in flair competitions and performances, specifically as a great way to link between bigger, more acrobatic moves. Audiences and judges don’t always want to see big move after big move, it can become stale quite quickly and it may actually take away from the difficulty or impressiveness of those moves – if so many are performed one after each other. It is important to slow things down now and then during a performance as well as to speed things up, in the english language we refer to this as juxtaposition, craft flair can be a fantastic and stylish way of ensuring there is juxtaposition in your next performance.

Furthermore, craft flair makes you as a competitor think about how you can use all the barware objects such as jiggers, muddlers, ice scoops, not just bottles and shakers. This is great and really feeds the creativity of flair performances overall. Finally, craft flair is generally a lot more controlled and deliberate. As a result, craft flair moves can still look impressive but remain controlled enough to ensure that during a flair performance, the taste and balance of your cocktail doesn’t suffer. In summary, craft flair can help you look after your cocktail during a performance and without a creative and expertly made cocktail these days, it can be very hard to win some of the flair competitions.