Deniss Trifanovs: How I train, what’s in store for 2017 & more…

Deniss Trifanovs has kicked his 2017 off strongly with a win in both the Roadhouse Freestyle Competition and WFA Grand Slam Flairmania in Latvia. We spoke to Deniss to get a bit of background on how he came into flair bartending, what has changed for him over the years, and more:

“My story is a bit of a different one as I actually started flair bartending before I was a bartender, it was at the age of 16 (in 2010) so I wasn’t actually old enough to start working behind a bar – even though I wanted to! So it started off as more of a hobby for me really, I certainly didn’t have any thoughts of becoming a professional flair bartender. I entered my first small local flair bartending competition in 2010 and got a bit of a taste for it and the competitiveness of it. Even though I didn’t really know what I was working towards, at this age I was practicing every day – I really enjoyed taking time to practice my flair.

Two years later, when I was 18 I would have my first real experience of highly competitive exhibition flair bartending when I entered my first ever international competition – a Roadhouse Flair heat in 2012, although I think I may have come last! For me it was just amazing to get to a Roadhouse competition, this was the stage I had heard so much about ever since I entered the scene in 2010. From here I started to get experience in more and more competitions, trying many around Europe.

The big step up for me probably happened in 2013 when I achieved 2nd place in the August Roadhouse Flair heat, this was amazing for me because it meant I would finally have my first chance to go up against the world’s best in the Roadhouse Grand Finals later in the year. My only focus at that point was to get better and better and to improve my routines, going up against the best is the fastest and most efficient way of doing this – so the Roadhouse is where to do it!”

deniss trifanovs


Why did you start flair bartending?

“As you already know I started when I was quite young and I can remember the moment when I knew I wanted to pursue something like this. I remember I saw a video on youtube of Tim ‘Flippy’ Morris and I became inspired by what I saw. I was at school at the time and I had to decide what direction I wanted my life to go in.

Bartending had always appealed to me but I always wanted to entertain as well – when I saw flair bartending it was the perfect mix of both of these elements”.

deniss trifanovs


How has your flair progressed from when you started? Has it changed at all?

“As I said 2013 was the first breakthrough moment for me and by 2014 I was starting to place in the top 6 of many WFA Grand Slams as well as making the finals of many other competitions I was entering at the time. It was changing year on year in terms of me being able to handle more and attempt more difficult moves, this came to a head in 2015 when I won my WFA Grand Slam in the shape of Flairmania in my hometown Riga, Latvia – this was a moment when I felt that my flair bartending had really progressed a lot.

However in 2016 the WFA introduced a new scoring system and this was very challenging for me in particular. The routines and the style of flair I had been building for many years wouldn’t score very high under the new system. This is when my flair bartending experienced the biggest change, I was really forced out of my comfort zone but it all turned out to be for the best!

I changed the type of music I worked with for many of my routines, focussing more on Rock music to differentiate myself from many other flair bartenders that were going down the electronic and dubstep route. Following the new scoring system I adapted my flair and achieved 2nd place in a 2016 Roadhouse Flair heat, allowing me another chance in the Roadhouse Grand Finals where I was very happy to come 4th!

This year I have continued to build on my new style of flair bartending and have had a very good year so far, winning Flairmania for a second time in my wonderful hometown and also winning the first ever Roadhouse Flair Freestyle Competition in London. Hopefully there will be more to come from me in 2017, lets wait and see!”

deniss trifanovs


How do you practice for flair competitions? How has that changed over the years?

“Even before I started flair bartending in 2010 I had been doing taekwondo for many years, this meant that my body was already quite athletic and I was quite fit. What this then meant for practicing was I found I could practice all day for 4 or 5 days a week without getting fatigued. Although I was still very young at this point so I had a lot of energy!

This has changed a bit since my flair has changed, I think maybe as my flair bartending has become more advanced and my routines longer I am finding it harder to practice for 7 hours a day, all week. Fatigue and tiredness are starting to creep in so I have found I need to look at other things outside of flair bartending, down to what I eat, when I sleep and preparing my muscles.

There are no real secrets to practicing, you just need to make sure you are giving it enough time and during that time you are concentrated and focussed. Repeat this day in day out, for as long as it takes, and you will go far”.

deniss trifanovs

Any advice for young flair bartenders starting out?

“I suppose I was that young flair bartender only a few years ago so I can relate, some may still consider me a young flair bartender! From my point of view it seems as if many of the youngsters coming through are super focussed on the technical side of flair bartending, concentrating on the moves, achieving that difficulty and that really-hard-to-complete-move. People come to watch flair bartending because they find it entertaining, I would say don’t forget that you are also an entertainer and don’t let this side of your flair fall away – this is what people really want to see.

Whatever goal you make the chances are even when you reach it you will not be happy and you will set yourself another goal. I had this problem for a few years until I understood how I should be making my goals. my personal goal is simple, to get better year on year and to always make sure I am enjoying my flair bartending. If you enjoy your flair bartending then achieving your goals within it should come naturally.

Whenever I am going through a hard time or I am finding it hard to motivate myself I remember why I got into flair bartending in the first place, the love I have for the flair – this always brings me back to a good place and reminds me why I am spending 7 hours a day in a practice room! Don’t get into flair bartending because you want to win championships and be the best, become a flair bartender because you truly love it. You will need to fall in love with flair bartending if you want to make a true success of it”.

deniss trifanovs


What are your favourite flair bartending tools?

“My favourite flair bartending tools have to be the tin on tin Boston and the ice scoop. This combination of these three bar tools is perfect, you can do so much with just three things.

Purchase from the WFA shop here

I also prefer to prepare cocktails when working behind the bar with the smaller tin and the larger tin as a shaker combination, bringing in the ice scoop as well you can do almost anything from working flair up to full exhibition flair. I like to try and invent some new and original combinations with these bar tools, you can make many fast movements with these tools and people love to watch you do cool things with them!”

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