Compare courses from Australia's leading TAFEs and Colleges

How to Take the Bartending World by Storm

Do you scoff at the idea of completing a bartending course? After all, how difficult can it be to pour a beer and mix a gin and tonic?

Well, pretty difficult, if you ask the experts.


For starters, bartenders have to know about things like alcohol density, so they can make those pretty coloured shooters and get the layers of a cocktail right. Then they need to know if the ingredients of certain drinks can be substituted. For example, can you take out vodka and shove in some gin? Obviously, this means they need to know what goes into cocktails in the first place.

Add hygiene practices, terminology, people skills and the odd bit of flair bartending and perhaps you’re ready to admit that being a good bartender is more challenging than you thought.

Flair Extraordinaire

Russel Davis doing some flair bartending at Peche

Even if you’ve never seen the movie Cocktail, you’ve probably seen clips or still sor promos with Tom Cruise merrily flipping bottles, spinning cocktail shakers and generally impressing ladies out of their undies.

With that imagery in mind, let’s look at some reasons why you would want to flair.

  • It’s super cool. How many of you have picked up a bottle of schnapps or tequila and been tempted to give it a whirl? How many have actually whirled it? It may have ended in disaster, in which case you probably felt like a right fool. But you might have pulled it off, in which you probably felt like the coolest person in the world. You probably had to show off your new found skill and the chances are good your friends thought you were pretty cool too.Now, multiply that feeling by a billion. That’s how cool flair bartenders are.
  • It’s super sexy. How else do you explain Bryan Brown’s success with the ladies in Cocktail? It doesn’t matter whether women or men spin the hell out of some neon bottles and flaming cocktail sticks; that much control and that much laughing in the face of danger is hot hot hot.
  • It’s prestigious. Great flair bartenders are snapped up by big brands and paid to entertain guests at product launches and assorted gala events. And we’re not just talking about alcoholic brands; flairtenders are in demand for magazine launches, non-profit fundraisers, motorcar unveilings, and awards dinners. Tupperware party hosts would hire flairtenders if they knew where to find them.
  • It’s prestigious. Yes, it’s doubly prestigious because there are major flair bartending competitions, including a World Championship. The prize money might not be as good as in skateboarding but there is three times as much glitz, glamour and fun.
  • Great stories. You can’t help but amass great stories if your job is to attend loads of parties and perform at the latest and hottest night clubs. Plus, you’ll have great stories about all the mistakes you made while practicing – all the $2000 bottles of whisky broken, all the lacerated fingers and burnt eyebrows. You’ll be a treasure trove of anecdotes for your friends.
  • Your parents will have a cadenza. This is not an endorsed reason for going into flair bartending, mind you, but it could be an attractive one for many young kids who aren’t quite sure what they want to do with their lives. Imagine telling your mom and dad that you’ve decided to go to college … and then telling them it’s to study bartending. The satisfaction is that much sweeter when you get to be on TV performing at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Party or accepting your award for winning the Legends of Bartending World Championships.

Legends of Flair Bartending Contest

I Want Me Some of That

Yes you do. And you can have it – maybe. Head on down to your local TAFE college or get yourself on the net and look for bartending courses. There are plenty of them around. You’ll have to start with the boring stuff, like how to strain cocktails and the art of cocktail shaking. You’ll also have to come to grips with the terminology, like how to tell a Cooler from a Daisy and a Highball from a Lowball.

Bartending courses also include tedious things like alcohol density charts and Responsible Serving of Alcohol (RSA), how to keep a clean workspace and how not to lose your cool with customers.

But it won’t be long before you can move onto the showy stuff and then all you need are steady hands, nerves of steel and a yen for the limelight.

crazy gin