The Roadhouse World Finals on the 27th of November are looking like the biggest and the best yet, with over 30 competitors taking part to win what is widely recognised as the hardest Flair competition in the world, and £10,000. This week we focus on another potential favourite who will be looking to step forward and take the Roadhouse crown and World Champion Flair Bartender, that bartender is our current Champion Alexander Shtifanov.
The man behind the title…
Alexander has spent 13 years in the industry of bartending, starting at a very young age in his native Russia. Born in Tuapse, a small town in the south of Russia, Alexander first discovered the art of flair bartending 10 years ago when he moved to the capital city, Moscow. Being 10 years ago this was arguably the first wave of flair bartending to hit Russia, once Alexander discovered it he knew he had to help push this interesting discipline forward in Russia.
Stepping up to his first international competition in Latvia in 2011, Alexander went on to compete in many more competitions around the world over the next 5 years, gaining a great deal of experience along the way. Having achieved the gold level in the WFA , competed in Ukraine, the Roadhouse and the World Finals in Cape Town, South Africa – Alexander has a fair amount of experience to his name. Although interestingly enough, as Roadhouse World Finals winners go he is relatively inexperienced.
“First I discovered Flair, then I discovered how I wanted to Flair. The Flair I discovered in Russia was very different and I didn’t like this style. I think every bartender approaches the art of Flair differently, for me I like to focus on becoming the most technically brilliant bartender and the most creative. I have a very serious and professional style, and for me it is very important to maintain this throughout my performances. I want people to applaud my flair, not what I look like, or wear.”
Since the big win…
Of course Alexander was perhaps the surprise, but very well deserved winner of the Roadhouse World Finals 2015 and £10,000. We explored how things have been for him since then and what he has learned from this big win:
“Having taken 1st place at the Roadhouse World Finals and the WFA Grand Slam in 2015, it was always going to be hard for me to follow up such a successful year. Honestly it feels like a lot of expectation and pressure is on me approaching this year’s Roadhouse World Finals as I am the current champion, but I guess this is to be expected and comes with the title. Winning the Roadhouse meant a lot to me though, for me it is not just about the name and history of the competition but who your opponents are in that competition. The Roadhouse every year, always attracts the greatest and best flair bartenders and judges in the world, to win this is to really prove you are the best”.
Similar to Marek, who is also going for the Roadhouse title this year, Alexander appreciates that the Roadhouse World Finals is about new skills and new moves:
“I love the Roadhouse competition the most, the judges are always on the look out for the most creative and original moves – this is what I like to try and come up with. Professionalism is also taken very seriously, almost every competitor will come to the stage serious and ready to fight and will almost always produce something original – no copying or safe performances here. The crowd at the Roadhouse is also the best, very well educated in flair, they understand the difficulty of the moves and recognise when something is subtly more difficult to execute – I like this because this is really where I try to get noticed”.
Retain the title…
It is no doubt that Alexander would love to retain his World Champion Flair Bartender title, although we have a feeling there will be more than a few bartenders there who will be looking to make this as hard as possible for Alexander. We asked Alexander to reflect on what feels different this year, coming into the competition as champion instead of contender:
“Defending the title is definitely something in your mind that is different to all other years. Sure you feel under a lot of pressure and nervous after all we are all only human! Although other bartenders will look at you with expectation as the current champion, I like to take it as support and recognition, I find this a more positive way to deal with it. The difficulty of my performance this year is definitely going to be higher, the atmosphere and the level of the competition at the Roadhouse are unique so I have to also come with something new and unique!”
The Roadhouse World Finals
Who knows? Perhaps this could be Alexander’s year and if so would also put him in a small group of flair bartenders who have retained their Roadhouse World Final title. Whatever happens we wish Alexander and all the other competitors the best of luck.
The Roadhouse World Finals will be going down at The Roadhouse in Covent Garden, London. 27th November 5.00pm-11.55pm. Tickets are available from the Facebook page and designmynight.com. The winner will get £10,000 and the crown of Best Flair Bartender in the World. Over 16 years only 9 people have won it, will we have a 10th this year?