“Germany’s Best Newcomer” – Marian Antoniu Danelcu Interviewed

Updated: August 15, 2015

From starting out to taking a bartending course in Bukarest to achieving the title of “German Champion”… Mr. Marian Antoniu Danelcu . He has embraced Flair and Mixology and now in the pages of Flairbar.com, we get to know a little more about Marian with “Germany’s Best Newcomer” as he shares with us his insights on the world of Flair bartending & Mixology… So sit back, relax and indulge in a Finest Call cocktail made in a Flairbar.com tin sold on BarProducts and enjoy… ;-)


Where are you from?  Romania.


How long have you’ve been Bartending?  I started bartending in 2009, working in various bars and clubs.


And Flair Bartending? I’ve been Flair bartending for 4 years now.


Where do you work? I own a company called ‘Bar10der’ (www.bar10der.de), we provide Flair shows, cocktail caterings, bar consulting and we have a bar academy, where we teach Mixology and Flair.


What got you into Flair Bartending? Unlike many bartenders, I didn’t start Flair because of the movie ‘Cocktail’. I signed up for a bartending course at a bar school in Bukarest, where some guys were doing some Flair. That was the first time I had seen people do stuff with bottles, tins etc. and I knew I wanted to do that too.


 How did you start out learning to Flair? At the barschool, they showed me the first steps. I was lucky enough to pick up the moves very fast, it just felt natural to me.


 FBC_MDaneclu_quote1Tell us about the Flair Bartending scene in Germany? The Flair bartending scene in Germany used to be big. There were many big competitions here (Havana Club Bar Giants, Bacardi-Martini, Skyy, Bols, Bauer Cup, etc), but slowly, the companies lost interest in Flair, putting the focus on classic Mixology competitions. Right now it seems like every liquor company has it’s own mixing competition here, but we only have 2 Flair competitions.

Media like ‘Mixology Magazine’ stopped writing about Flair, and many former Flair bartenders don’t integrate Flair into their work anymore, as if Flair were some kind of disease. Flair has reached a very professional level today, we are far away from the ‘juggling clown’, who takes ages to prepare one drink. I hope people here will open their eyes one day and be more open. A great German bartender once said: ‘I don’t need to throw bottles, I entertain my customers with conversation.’, this works when you have 5 guests in front of you, but when you have 200 clients, you need to do more…


 Tell us about the Craft Bartending scene in Germany? There are many great bars in Germany, and many of them infuse their own spirits, make their own ginger beer, syrups, bitters etc. Many of these taste great and give new perspectives on taste (e.g. popcorn-infused vodka), but sometimes bartenders have to remember, they are making drinks and not food.


 FBC_MDaneclu_quote2What makes you stand out from other Bartenders? Any bartender, that does some Flair, stands out from other bartenders. Apart from that, I like to interact with guests and treat them like friends, even if we just met. It’s like throwing a party in your living room: everybody is friends with everybody. I’ve been to bars where employees were so polite and artificial, I felt uncomfortable. A bar is a socializing place where people meet, drink and talk.


 What do you hope to get out of Flair? One of my favorite competitions is the ‘German International Flair Open’ in Germany organized by Armando Ortiz. He puts in so much effort in the organization and he makes us competitors feel very welcome, he is the hospitality king. My other favorite competition is of course ‘Roadhouse’. This competition separates the men from the boys (or the ladies from the girls?): you are blinded by the lights, the crowd is screaming right in your face, space on stage is limited (thank god the helicopter is gone…), the music is pumping… if you can still focus on your Flair and show a good, clean routine on stage, then you can perform anywhere.

I just love the atmosphere there. And the fact, that they have been doing competitions for so many years on such a high level shows that they are smart, dedicated people doing the organizing.


Who do you look up to in this Sport?  There are many Flair bartenders I look up to, current competitors and former competitors. Some excel in difficulty or originality, others in performance or stage presence. But I try not to focus only on Flair, I like to read about great legends from other kinds of sports, their mentality, their training, their dedication. These legends trained differently than others, had a different way of understanding their sport, that’s how they became the greatest in their sport.


Tell us about “Bar10der” and your services? ‘Bar10der’ is a company I run together with my partner Mike Doetzer, who is multiple times German champion in Flair, so we are two German champions. We are based in Munich, where we run our bar academy and teach bartenders Mixology and Flair. Apart from that we also do Flair shows for events, fairs and in clubs. We also provide cocktail caterings for company or private events and help out new bars, who need advice.


 Why should clients book Flair bartenders for shows and events? Flair bartenders don’t only know how to Flair and entertain a huge crowd, we also know how to work fast and accurate, because we practice speed mixing and free pouring on a regular basis. Of course there are bartenders, who don’t Flair, but who are equally fast and accurate, but Flair is our little ‘turbo mode’ with which we can attract the cameras.


What advice do you have bartenders wanting to start their own bartending company? The best way to get new jobs is when former clients recommend us. Recommendations are always very honest, and if a client recommends us, it means he was happy with our services. Setting up a network of clients is the most important thing in this job, this way you don’t have to look for jobs, the jobs come looking for you.


 FBC_MDaneclu_quote3You recently won “Best Newcomer” in Flair, tell us where you won this and how you achieved this? I won this award last year at the ‘German International Flair Open’ in Heidelberg, and it was a great feeling. It’s my first trophy and it will always mean something special to me. It was the reward of years of hard practice and many bruises and cuts. Flair is lots of fun behind bars, but showing your skills on a stage is a completely different ballgame, and I’m happy that my first steps on a stage were rewarded.


 More recently, you became “German Champion”… where was this and how did you feel when you achieved this? This was at the ‘German International Flair Open’ 2015. It was the next step for me, and I am very happy that everything worked out as planned. I was practicing one year just for this title. If you win ‘Best Newcomer’ one year before, people have high expectations of you, so the pressure is high. Luckily I managed to keep calm on stage and execute my routine as planned.


 What advice would you give to other bartenders wanting to learn Flair? Unfortunately, today we have an overkill of Flair videos on the internet, so there are many young Flair bartenders, who focus on 5 or 6 object moves, but don’t know any Working Flair or a good bottle-tin routine. These are equally if not more important. So my advice to bartenders starting to Flair would be ‘basics, basics, basics!’. And once you have mastered the basics, try not to follow other big Flair bartenders, try to find your own style, your own way of Flair. Of course in the beginning, there will be some bartenders who you like more than others. But if you copy their moves, sooner or later you will have adopted their style too, and all you are is a ‘copy’ of a great Flair bartender.


FBC_MDanelcu_sm5What is something every bartender should know for their first shift behind the bar? Keep calm, smile and try to have fun. The first shift behind a bar is always confusing, but everybody survived until now.


 In your opinion, what makes a good bartender? Of course a good bartender should know his recipes and be a good host. But what makes a really good bartender is his ability to be the calmest guy in the place, even if it’s the busiest night ever and he is working like crazy. New guys look stressed and busy, but it’s the old dog, who makes busy bar work look like a walk in the park.


What are your thoughts when you hear remarks about Flair bartending or craft cocktails slowing down service? Well, when it’s busy, Flair bartenders should settle for small, fast tricks like thumb rolls or single flips.

This way the speed is the same as without Flair, but it just has this little extra to catch the eye. If Flair or craft cocktails are slowing down business, then the bartender is not doing his job right. Apart from taste, aroma and looks, speed is an essential part of the cocktail. I can order the greatest cocktail in the world, if it takes 20 minutes to reach my table, I won’t enjoy it.


What are your thoughts on bartending competitions today… what would you change and why? Bartending competitions have always been very diverse, some focusing only on Flair, some on Flair and Mixology, others focusing more on showmanship. It’s great to have different types of competitions. However, maybe some organizers of competitions should try to push Flair more into the media, instead of only advertising their bar school. Not many Flair competitions managed to go on television, and when I see hot dog- eating competitions on national tv, I ask myself why Flair bartending is not getting the same support.


FBC_MDanelcu_sm2What are your thoughts on the WFA? WFA is doing a great job, they brought a standard to big Flair competitions here in Europe, same rules, same scoring system, etc. Maybe one day, WFA will have national finals in every country, and at the end of the year, they will organize a world finals, similar to IBA, but but with WFA rules. This way we would not only have a WFA Grand Slam champion, but also a WFA World Champion.


 What are your thoughts on the evolution of Flair & Mixology? Modern Flair has come a long way, from JB Bandy’s ‘Olympic Flair’ to today’s level. I watched old Roadhouse videos from 2001 and was amazed, that people at the time were doing bottle-tin routines for 3-4 minutes. How will Flair be in 10 years from now?

This is what makes Flair so exciting, it is evolving so fast, and every time when people think it can’t get any crazier, it will! The same goes for Mixology, when I see bartenders pull out frying pans and start to caramelize garnishes, infuse their own spirits or prepare drinks in an almost hypnotizingly elegant way, I am very happy to be witnessing this evolution.


How often do you practice and how do you structure your practice? I practice 5 days a week, twice a day, 2 hours per practice session. Some sessions I just repeat my routines, other sessions I just practice stalls, rolls, new moves etc. By limiting my practice sessions to 2 hours, I’m not tired after training. Practice does not mean have fun in the park for hours, it’s practicing each and every move, until you can execute it perfectly.

What advice do you have for new Flair bartenders starting out practicing? Set your goals for every practice session. Example: If you are a complete beginner, practice stalls until you can do them 10 out of 10. If you only hit 9 out of ten, start over. The same for rolls, bumps, taps, etc.

And then practice your routines the same way. Every day you will see your improvement, and it will motivate you to practice more. Don’t practice too long, your body gets tired, your concentration is low, and the risk of injury is higher.


You have a fun style when you perform… how do you achieve this? Before I started bartending, I was very much into breakdancing. So I guess my style is a result of this. I never practiced style, the way I move is just the most natural for me to Flair.

What do you hate about bartending and why? There is nothing about bartending, that I hate, it’s all part of the job. It’s like saying I love sunshine, but I hate the heat, it doesn’t work. The only thing which some bars could improve: long shifts are tiring, and tired bartenders can’t work as good as regular bartenders. Maybe some bars should think about this and rearrange shifts, so that even late at night, bartenders are fresh and smiling all the time.

FBC_MDaneclu_quote4Tell us your thoughts on the bartending scene overseas compared to the United States… Can they learn something from one another?
 Both scenes are great, with amazing bartenders on both sides. It’s always interesting to see how bartenders from other countries/continents work. We do the same things, but slightly different. That’s why I always advise young bartenders to travel to other countries, especially to the United States, where so many cocktails were created.

What are your thoughts on a new way sponsors can partner with an individual bartender to help promote their brand and how would the sponsors better benefit? Well, I’ve seen great cooperations between Flair bartenders and companies that have nothing to do with bartending (e.g Jay du Toit advertising a deoderant, Christian Delpech as a cook), so individual bartenders should not only look at bar-related companies, when it comes to sponsoring.

Every company would benefit from sponsoring a Flair bartender, since most people just know Flair from movies, so it definitely is an eye catcher. Still waiting for a band aid company to sponsor me though…

What are your thoughts on the FBA (Flair Bartender’s Association) and the WFA (World Flair Association)? Are they working towards the same goals and can we work together more in the future for the overall better of Flair bartending? Both associations have done a lot for the Flair scene, without them we wouldn’t be where we are today. However, I sometimes think if they worked together, it would push Flair again to the next level. The Flair scene here in Europe is of course dominated by Europeans, but a few years ago, with the FBA Pro Tour, we had European and U.S. Flair bartenders competing against each other, so you really had the best of the best. Unfortunately, this rarely happens today.

FBC_MDanelcu_sm4What are your thoughts on the I.B.A. International Bartenders Association? The I.B.A has a long tradition of Flair competitions as well, and that’s great. I.B.A has a different scoring system than most other competitions, so it’s always exciting to watch competitors trying to adopt the the I.B.A. system. One thing however confuses me: In some countries, you have to qualify to represent your country at the world finals, in other countries the national association chooses a competitor. Shouldn’t there be the same standard in every country?

In Germany for example, the criteria and scoring system for the National Finals by D.B.U. (which is the German I.B.A.) are completely different than the World Finals. It’s like qualifying for the World Cup in soccer, you play with 11 players, but AT the World Cup, you only play with 9… Maybe the I.B.A should oppose their scoring system onto every national I.B.A. competition, so we all have the same standard. This way, I think Flair would benefit a great deal.

Do you find it difficult being a bartender to maintain a serious relationship? If you are a young guy, who is standing behind the bar for the first time, maybe. But after a few years experience, all you think about is making great drinks, giving great service and getting great tips.

Any tips on dating a bartender? I have never dated a bartender :-) If you do date a bartender, it’s going to be a roller coaster ride: late shifts, weekend work, lots of drunk attractive people, many new fake friends, etc. Think about that before you start dating a bartender and enjoying those free drinks at the bar …

Why do you Flair? It’s a way to express myself, like a dancer needs to dance or a painter needs to paint. And if it’s done in the right moment and in the right way, the clients will appreciate it too.

What are your thoughts on Flairbar.com and what would you like to change about it? Flairbar.com has always been a great source for information. I still remember that legendary video, where Chuck McIntosh showed how to drink Jäger shots like a pro! There is nothing I would change about it, but maybe Flairbar.com could organize more Online Flair competitions? This would be a great way to compete against Flair bartenders from the US without having to spend money on flights and hotels.


What are your thoughts on Finest Call products and Why? Finest Call have been supporting Flair for as long as I can think, and they still do. I can’t think of many other companies with such a great history of sponsorship in Flair, who still support competitions around the globe. And the ‘Finest Call Stall’ is a legend already.

What is your favorite Finest Call flavor? If I have to choose one, it would be the Finest Call Red Sangria. It is a great base for creating new cocktails, especially with brandy or sherry.

What is your favorite cocktail to serve you created and can you share with us how to create it? I have a cocktail which is similar to the B-52, it comes in a martini glass and has kahlua, bailey’s, cinnamon flavored cachaça orange bitters and overproof rum. You layer all the ingredients, light the overproof rum and sprinkle cinnamon on it, which creates lots of firey sparks. Girls love the fire and the smell of Christmas is in the air.

What is your favorite cocktail to enjoy? It really depends on the mood I’m in. Sometimes I might order a Rusty Nail or an Old Fashioned, other times I might drink an Ernest Hemingway Daiquiri or a Rum Collins, and then there are moments when a beer just fits perfect.




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