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FLAIR THIS! – Dave Monterde Interviewed

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Updated: October 1, 2006
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From beginning bartender to Flair bartender to Mixologist… Mr. Dave Monterde. He has been competing for quite awhile now and with his recent success at Summer Flair 2 with winning the Navan Mixology Contest, taking second place in the Flair Trick Contest and forth place overall… Dave raised some eyebrows and with the help of many others is helping putting Atlanta on the Flair map. So sit back and mix up “The French Alps” and enjoy…

Age? Twenty-ten.

Where are you from? Hotlanta- (A-town down).

How long have you’ve been Bartending? Six years.

And Flair Bartending? Five and a half.

Where do you work? Eclipse di Luna http://www.eclipsedilunaparkplace.com.

What got you into Flair Bartending? $ and Dave Beck. I met Dave Beck when he was working at the Tavern at Phipps. He was one of the top ten bartenders in the world at that time (competed with Alan Mays, Bill Long, Ken Hall, and Pat Macnamera) I met Dave when I was just getting started in bartending and he showed me a few things and got me really interested in Flair.

How did you start out learning to Flair? Dave Beck and DVDs. Dave showed me the basics of Flair and the taught me the importance of practice. I also learned later, from watching DVDs such as “Quest for the Best” and “ShowTenders Comp”.

Dave_quote1Tell us about the Flair Bartending scene in Atlanta? Sucks. Umm… We only have two or three good Flair bartenders, but that is because Flair is discouraged by 99% of Atlanta’s bar industry… I think it is mainly discouraged because of the lack of skill from most of the Flair bartenders we have here. People see bottles being broken and liquor wasted instead of what Flair bartending is really supposed to be. I’ve got my work cut out for me.

What is Flair Bartending? Simply put… entertainment for the customers.

Describe to us your style of Flair? Lucky. Always hoping for that “dare to be great” situation.

What makes you stand out from other Flair Bartenders? The fact that I live in Atlanta, Georgia where Flair bartending is almost obsolete.

What do you hope to get out of Flair?  Respect from the best in the business. You know… you practice really hard to get to their level. Earning their respect is really gratifying.

What is your favorite Flair Bartending competition and why?  Tie between the Baseball Bash in Chicago w/ Rob Taylor and the Summer Flair in West Palm w/ Rob Husted. Because they make it fun, and they include a lot more things than just Flair.

Dave_FlairWho do you look up to in this Sport? I look up to anyone willing to take the time to take the hand of the beginners and teach them the ropes.

What are your thoughts on the FBA Pro Tour, (likes and dislikes)? I fucking love it. It gives you a goal. I think it is a building block for becoming a professional bartender. I have no dislikes.

If you could help influence Flair to change our sport somehow, what would it be and why? Giving the people/public more understanding of our sport/passion/lifestyle, so they can stop referring to us as Tom and the guy in Cocktail.

FBC_Video_ButtonWhat are your plans now? Taking care of my family and getting Dave Monterde out as a name and friend in Flair society.

What are some common myths about the profession of Flair Bartending? People perceive that our number one priority as a Flair bartender is just to Flair… when in actuality, it is only 10% (which falls into the category of entertainment). The other 90% is knowing how to make a good drink, knowing how to develop relationships with customers, understanding the difference between rapport bartending and speed bartending, and being able to use them when necessary.

How often do you practice? Not enough. That answer is always not enough, but now with two kids, I practice as often as I can… which is about four hours a week.

What is your advice to some of the new people wanting to start competing, any helpful hints? Practice, Practice, Practice… Overcome the “plateau”, and do as many competitions as you possibly can.

Tell us about your first Flair Competition and your experiences there, What were you feeling, Did everything go as planned? My first competition I was in was in Atlanta. It was a small local competition hosted by Mike Cook and Dave Beck. I can’t remember the name of it. It was actually the first I ever watched. I wasn’t planning on competing, but Dave Beck said to me, “F*%k that, you are competing.” And I ended up getting first place. That is just an unbelievable feeling. It gave me the motivation to just practice, and practice, and practice.

Describe to us what your ultimate Flair competition would consist of? Pour test, exhibition based on fun, speed, and outside group activities (ex: Rob Taylor’s Baseball Bash at Wrigley Field, or Rob Husted’s limo ride to VIP Room).

Dave_MikeTell us your thoughts on Summer Flair 2? One of the best competitions I have ever been to. Rob Husted has the unique ability to combine first time competitors and professional competitors (Delpech, Cao, Ati) and make it fun for everyone.

What were your thoughts before the Flair Trick round at Summer Flair 2 and then after doing it and placing second, what are your thoughts now? Skeptical at first obviously!! This is going to be big in the Flair competitions, its fun and it really tests the skill level!! I was very surprised to beat Rodrigo Cao, and even more surprised I gained two points on the number one bartender in the world… Rodrigo Delpech. I think I gained a lot of respect from the people I look up to and raised a lot of eyebrows.

Since you won the Navan Mixology round at Summer Flair 2 , Tell us your thoughts on what makes a good Mixologist? Understanding of liquor and mixes and the proper balance of taste for the consumer. Not to mention… a good eye for detail and creativity.

Dave_quote2Where do you see the future of Flair Bartending? I think it is going to explode in the next few years from the growing exposure. I hope that the public eye will see what Flair bartending actually is.

What obstacles do you see our sport of Flair Bartending encountering in the near future and in your opinion, how can we overcome them? Our obstacles would just be misunderstanding. I think we can overcome them by showing people the “WOW”factor that Flair bartending really is.

If you had the opportunity to convince a skeptical Bar manager to hire a Flair Bartender, How would you go about it? I have been doing that for the last four years. The backbone to a great bar, is it’s bartenders. So even though, Flair bartending/entertainment is only 10%, it is absolutely necessary. That is why the best bars in the world are mainly in Vegas, where the best bartenders in the world work. So that means something right?

Dave_JennWhat are some common obstacles you face as a Flair bartender opposed to a regular bartender? There will always be people at the bar, that will never be satisfied. Killing them with kindness and sincerity (in my experience) can change a non-tipping pessimist into one of your many regulars.

What is your favorite drink? “The French Alps” because it won me the Navan mixology contest and because I spent a lot of time and effort into creating the drink. In the other hand… I mean on the other hand… bourbon on the rocks is delicious.

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