IT’S TIA TIME – The Tia Rodriguez Interview

Updated: October 1, 2004

From watching Flair Competitions in the crowd, to dating a Flair bartender, to becoming BarWars V Semi-Pro Division grand champion. We interviewed this sassy little Flair vixen fresh from her big win!

Age? 23.

Where are you from? Miami, Florida.

How long have you’ve been bartending?
One year, off and on.

And Flair bartending? Roughly around 3 months.

Where do you work? Hard Rock Casino, Tampa.

What got you into Flair bartending? Initially, I was introduced to Flair when I got a job at a TGI Fridays where they encouraged us to learn Flair.  But everything I know now as far as Flair bartending and competing is thanks to my boyfriend Daniel Joseph.

Right before he left for Vegas to train for Legends 6 he showed me a couple moves to practice.  But he was gone for six weeks so needless to say I forgot everything.  When he came back we were looking to get a job at the Hard Rock Casino where they were planning to have a Flair bar.  So I started learning some more hoping to get a spot on the bar.  But the Food and Beverage Director didn’t think I knew enough to be on the Bar.  So I was put on a different, non-Flair bar in the casino.  This made me want to learn even more.  Now my goal is to work on a Flair bar. Wherever that may be, to prove to some people that I can and to compete as much as possible.

Tia-quote1How did Daniel Joseph and you meet? We met while bartending together at a bar in Orlando.   And the rest is history…

How did you start learning to Flair? Let’s just say, me in the middle of my living room with a Flairco Flair bottle and a quickly broken glass table.

What makes you stand out from other Flair Bartenders? Right now, in Florida, there aren’t very many female Flair Bartenders that compete.

What was the hardest thing to learn or overcome when you first started to learn Flair?  The pain that comes along with certain moves.  You know, like hitting myself in the head with a tin or the bruises from learning forearm bumps or having a glass bottle shatter in my face.  You don’t realize the pain and frustration that comes along with learning Flair until you actually do it.  Most people see the finished product of a routine but don’t realize the dedication it took to get it there.

FBC_Video_ButtonWhat do you hope to get out of Flair ? 12 bucks an hour!

Tell us about the central Florida Flair scene and how it has changed in the last three years? The first time I ever saw Flair was three years ago at the Adobe comp. It was my first time to even see Flairing so I had no idea who anyone was. I, like everyone else (non-Flair bartenders) think were starting to become aware of Flair bartending as a sport.  Now, three years later, even my mom knows what it is.

Why do you Flair now? I think it is such a unique and amazing sport.  There is really nothing else like it.  I have never enjoyed a sport as much, had such determination to learn or strive to do well as I do with Flair bartending.

Tia_speedWho do you look up to in this Sport?  I don’t know if I necessarily look up to anybody. I respect certain people, like Erin Connelly (she’s amazing), Tom Dyer (I don’t even understand some of the moves he does), Graham Warner (Legends 6-one of the best Flair rounds I’ve seen), and of course the Flair staff at Hard Rock!!!.

How often do you practice? About fifteen hours a week. 



What are your thoughts on being a woman in the Flair Scene? It’s a double edged sword. People tell you it’s an advantage that you’re a girl.  It may be because there are so few girls in a male dominated sport.  It’s always refreshing to see a girl get up there Flair in the midst of so many men.  But if you do well they say things like the only reason you did well is because you happen to be the only female competitor?
Tia-quote2What are your thoughts on living with your boyfriend, working with your boyfriend and learning Flair from him? Does it get frustrating at times or does it have special benefits as well?  I should let Daniel answer this one!  It is definitely not the easiest thing learning from your boyfriend.  I get very frustrated as it is when I train and sometimes I give up very easily but Daniel is good at making me continue until I get it.  Which I appreciate after the fact but definitely not during it. 

It’s sort of a tough love situation.  The advantage is that Daniel has been competing for four years so he knows what he is talking about.  He doesn’t let me make the rookie mistakes he had to go through.  Also, I am surrounded by the best flair bartenders in the world like Rodrigo Delpech, Adriano Marcellino, Rodrigo Cao, Mauro Garrido, Nicolas Antivero, Martin Janica, Levi Donaldson and of course Daniel Joseph.  Levi has been great and has helped me a lot.  And all the other guys have been very supportive.  It’s still a little shocking to be able to go to work and see Rodrigo Delpech and Adriano Flairing behind the bar.  It is a huge difference seeing them compete and then seeing them go crazy with some moves that I don’t even understand!  

Tia_DanielPictured right is Tia with her boyfriend and Flair mentor Daniel Joseph.

You recently placed First in the Semi-Pro division at BarWars V, Tell us about your experience there? COMPLETE SHOCK! I went in there mainly to gain experience and get my feet wet for competing in front of a crowd and doing a speed/accuracy round (which it was my first speed round).  I had absolutely no expectations. So it was that much more surprising for me!!

What are your plans now? Training for Quest. At Quest, the best of the best come to compete and watch.  So for me it is a huge deal. The level of Flair that is going to be at Quest is a little intimidating.  I am training like crazy.  Also, it is a blind speed round and it will be my first experience with that.  So it is a lot to prepare for but I am more excited than anything.

What advice would you give to some of the new people out there who are thinking of competing? Definitely to practice.  Although it may be difficult and frustrating, to stick with it.  And just get out there and do it.

Tia_3Tell us about your first Flair competition and your experiences there, What were you feeling, Did everything go as planned? NO!!  I was so nervous that right before I was supposed to go on I was really thinking about backing out completely.  And mind you I was competing with Rodrigo Cao, Mauro Garrido, my boyfriend Daniel Joseph and two other local Flair bartenders that are very good.  Everyone could do 3 and 4 bottles and here I am fumbling through my 2 bottles.  Oh yeah, and Rodrigo Delpech (who was judging) did a demonstration for the crowd one person ahead of me.  I definitely felt in over my head!!

Jen_TiaWhat are your predictions for Quest this Year? Quest will be my third competition ever so I don’t even know what to expect.  However, I am sure the usual will do well in the Pro Division.  For the Advanced Division I think it’s going to be a battle between Mauro Garrido and Rodrigo Cao.  As for my division (Amateur) I just hope I don’t come in last place!

Pictured above are Jenn Durant and Tia Rodriguez.

What is your favorite drink? Mango Tropitini. Which is Mango Vodka, Fruja Mango, splash pineapple and oj.  I like girly drinks.



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