As many of you will know the next big flair bartending competition coming up is of course the Loolapaloosa Championship in Milan, Italy. There have been some changes to the competition to this year, we sat down with one of the organisers Szabolcs Szoke to talk about why these changes come about and what they are:
Why have these new rules been introduced for the qualification rounds?
“So we have been thinking about a new structure for Loolapaloosa. After talking to various sponsors we discovered they were looking for a change of format to the competition to ensure that the drink making section gets the exposure it deserves and that the competitors are only allowed to use natural products and ingredients – as you would in a bar. They are very clear that flair bartending needs to move towards focusing on the cocktail that is being created as part of each round. The cocktail must be good enough that you would actually serve it in a bar rather than just making it look good whilst you make it. It is important that we take these sorts of changes into account as the beverage distributors are the main support behind many flair bartending competitions around the world. Funding and support is highly sort after with mixology competitions also competing for the same support”.
What is the new format for the Loolapaloosa qualification heats?
“The qualification round will be 5 minutes this year. Four cocktails will have to be created during this time, two of these will be the Russian Mule and a Lynchburg Lemonade the other two will be picked from a list of 9 other cocktails. Only original bottles can be used and on a standard station set up. Only working flair is allowed in this round! The list of 9 drinks is quite easy to memorise and the list of cocktails will have all the information on it, including ingredients, garnish, measurements and more. You will be allowed to pick your other 2 cocktails to make other than the Lynchburg and Russian Mule, 10 minutes prior to going on stage”.
Experiences from the first test, Loolapaloosa qualification in May & June:
“It was clear that this was a big step up in difficulty for a qualification round and as a result it was clear that the competitors would have to train solely for this round, rather than pulling out a safe flair routine that they know will most likely see them through to the final rounds. In fact the first play of this new structure exceeded expectations. The flair bartenders really stepped up and adapted to the challenge, impressing both us organisers and the sponsors with results.
There a few teething problems with a couple of competitors going over the time allotted for the round. Aside from this though, nothing major. Ads you would expect we saw some of the less experienced flair bartenders attempt each cocktail one at a time, where as the more experienced flair bartenders stepped up and made multiple cocktails at the same time, using a variety of working flair techniques, which is what we really wanted to see here”.
The Loolapaloosa Finals
“The finals in November will have the same rues as last year, it will still be exhibition flair and you can use special bottles when creating your own cocktail. All sponsor drinks, however, must remain in their original bottles. It is recommended that you create a smart cocktail recipe that uses the orignal bottles as much as possible. The top 8 from each of the 3 qualification finals will gain a place in the Loolapaloosa Grand Finals in November”.
The Loolapaloosa Finals will be the penultimate WFA Grand Slam of the year, so it is one of your last chances to gain some valuable Grand Slam Points. To find out more about the Loolapaloosa Flair Championship and the changes discussed above, check out the interview with Szabolcs below: