Flair bartending makes a comeback
After enjoying a surge in popularity almost a decade ago, flair bartending is set to make a comeback in Honolulu — and not surprisingly, some of the same faces are still involved.
For the uninitiated — or those too young to remember the movie "Cocktail" starring Tom Cruise — flair bartending is the art of tossing liquor bottles, glasses, garnishes and more while making someone a drink. These days, only a handful of bars in Hawaii allow their bartenders to truly incorporate flair into making drinks, but when done properly it can add excitement to the sometimes mundane task of buying a cocktail.
From 2004 to 2007, flair bartending competitions were a regular occurrence in Honolulu. The old Jackie Chan's at Ala Moana Center employed a full staff of bartenders with flair experience, with former bar manager Cache Bouren leading a loose-knit group of flair practitioners until his departure from Hawaii in 2007. Once he left, the scene began to suffer and eventually withered away.
But when Bartending Academy Hawaii owner Regan Onikama heard some of the old players were back in town, he reached out to one person who never left — veteran local mixologist Moses Gomez — to see if there was interest in offering a class at his school. Gomez, along with Hawaii returnee Justin Keane and local flair phenom Kimo Mulder, have decided to give teaching a try, offering a two-week class that will show aspiring flair bartenders the basics.
Starting Monday, Aug. 15, BAH will offer the flair bartending class on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays (contact Onikama for class times), with participants also invited to take part in additional practice sessions at their convenience. Cost is $350, which includes a cocktail shaker, flair practice bottle and other materials.
Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.