Mix, match and juggle. Flair Mixology is adding glamour to the world of cocktails in city lounges.
The many lifestyle channels available on television today show exotic locales and fabulous feats that make viewers long to live in places where there is something new to see every day. What a lot of them do not realise however, is that there is a section of the youth involved in breaking into unexplored territory and bringing the best trends in the world to our shores. A few brave people of this mould are now enthralling Kochiites at lounges around the city with spectacular feats which include juggling bottles in mid air, manipulating liquids with dazzling accuracy and playing with fire. Welcome to the world of flair bartending.
“A bartender has to be the life of the party. We chat with our clients, give them good company and serve them too. It is our job to keep everyone occupied and keep a party going, and flair is one of the things that aid us in this respect,” says Rahul N.K., Director of the Institute of Flair and Mixology (IFM), an establishment in the city that provides training to youngsters interested in bartending, along with offering practice facilities for those already employed. According to Rahul, flair bartending is a style and a passion, something that those who practice it must take seriously and responsibly instead of viewing it as mere entertainment. The term, in bartending circles, can be attached to any activity that gives the clients a show during the mixing of drinks, and is not merely juggling of bottles as some think. “That is something I impress upon my students, we are not jokers who juggle bottles, we are entertainers and performers with a passion for our work,” he says.
Tejbal Singh, Food and Beverage Manager at the Gateway Hotel, says that flair bartending has no recorded origin, but simply developed in watering holes around the world in an attempt to involve the patrons of such organisations more in the process of drink making. On the other hand, Jomy Kuriakose, Food and Beverage Service Captain at Dream Cochin, feels it originated in South East Asia in the 1970s and 80s.
It is the passion for the art that brings these individuals into the world of flair bartending. “After my tenth standard, I saw a video on the internet about flair bartending, and it tickled my interest. Once I realised I had no interest in pursuing the sciences, I joined the Institute of Advanced Management in Kolkata and eventually came back to work at the Ava Lounge here at Dream,” says Jomy.
Jomy may have had an aversion for the sciences, but bartending is a science in itself, believes Rahul. “There are many things to consider when mixing or even making new drinks. Here at the Institute, we provide mixology and sommelier training. While a sommelier requires diligent maintenance of a clean palate, which is hard to do, mixology involves use of new techniques to freeze liquids that then react to body temperature and unleash the taste. It even allows us to create new tastes like sand and smoke,” he says.
Unlike another misconception, bartending is not a man’s stronghold either. IFM has two female students and one female instructor, while Jomy’s colleague at Ava Lounge, Maina Baruah, is one of the trailblazers in the field in Kochi. “I always wanted to try my hand at bartending, and it is a great experience. I have been at this for a while, and eventually I gave juggling and fire a try about a year back,” she says with pride.
Despite the glamour associated with the job, all its practitioners are quick to emphasise on the importance of safety and responsibility. “When juggling and flaring bottles, we have to be careful not to get burnt or break the bottle. Practice is very important and confidence in your abilities is vital,” says Jomy. He stresses the importance of responsible serving. “Unlike other serverswe exercise the right to refuse, when needed, for the good of our clients,” he says.
Those interested in knowing more about flair bartending can visit the IFM website: www.ifm.net.in.