What is the Just Flair League?
“The Just Flair League is a project designed for bartenders who are just starting out and what to get involved in flair bartending in particular. We want to encourage them, first to get involved in flair bartending, but also that educate them in the fact flair bartending isn’t just about throwing bottles around – you also need to be a first class bartender.
We do this with the way we design all of our competitions within the Just Flair League. Points are awarded on a 50/50 basis, 50% for the flair bartending skill and 50% for the cocktail making skill, so to advance in the Just Flair League you need to be able to portray a full bartenders skill set. There are a number of flair bartenders today who are very good at throwing bottles around on stage but who can’t even make a Pina Colada, this can’t continue – by ensuring the new generation coming through in Poland are exposed to both sides of bartending we aim to change that.
The Just Flair League starts in May of each year and finishes in December. There are 5 qualification competitions and the Grand Finals in December. The Winner from each of the 5 rounds instantly qualifies for the Grand Finals along with the Best Female from the whole season, the best rookie (newcomer) and the top 8 in the league – aside from the winners of the qualifiers. We want to present opportunities for these beginning flair bartenders to get on stage, in front of people and learn how to entertain – at the heart of it, that is what flair is all about – our qualifiers and the Grand Finals give them a great opportunity to experience this”.
Why was the Just Flair League Created?
“As I touched on previously, it is mostly about educating the new generation in all aspects of bartending. Through the Just Flair League we hope to create a new generation of flair bartenders who can create no only a great show but also a fantastic cocktail – although most flair bartenders today can do both. By bringing some of the focus back to the cocktail we can encourage the big drinks brands to sponsor and support the development of the flair bartending competitions more and more.
It is also about encouraging these new girls and guys to get up on stage in front of people to perform their bartending skill set. I am a strong believer that the earlier you get in front of people on a stage, the more of a help it is with your flair bartending performances. You need to be able to own the stage when you are up there, under pressure, as any drop in confidence can lead to a mistake in your performance”.
How does the Just Flair League provide a platform for the new generation of bartenders?
“Poland has always had a really strong bar industry, with some great names over the year going on to represent Poland around the world as World Champions and more. The Just Flair League is all about providing a platform for the new generation of bartenders in Poland to launch themselves into the world, be them Polish, British, German, Latvian or from anywhere.
The Just Flair League is all about building the skills they will need from the ground up so the next generation is well prepared for international competitions of all different types. We put a lot of emphasis on education.
For example, before every qualification competition we have a bootcamp with a workshop on how each bartender can improve their skills for the next competition. We talk to them about what they could change, or new things they could try to improve their flair routine but also their drink making skills. We invite in bartenders with a lot of experience, from different countries, to come and share their wisdom and experience with the new generation of bartenders – with a different teacher at every workshop”.
What are your thoughts on how others can help with promoting and assisting the new generation of bartenders?
“My first advice is for the new bartenders themselves, every person knows somebody who is practicing behind a bar or who has worked as a bartender for a long time. See if you can personally speak to some of these people and see if they would be happy to share with you some advice and guidance – this is always a great start for any bartender beginner.
It would also be great to see more countries adopting the Just Flair League attitude on flair bartending, creating platforms only for beginners that focus on more than just flair bartending and bring in the whole bartending skill set. Perhaps in the future we will see other Leagues springing up in other countries around Europe and around the world – we would love to see that and then maybe have a wildcard entry for our own Just Flair League Finals for each of the best in the others beginner leagues, that would be really cool.
All I have left to say is that we are always happy to welcome more people to join the Just Flair League. Poland is a beautiful country with beautiful people, the flights are cheap and the vodka is cold. What more could you want?