Updated: July 1, 2006

Football has the NFL, Basketball has the NBA and Flair bartending… we have the FBA, the Flair Bartenders Association “www.barflair.org“. The FBA started back months before “The Quest for the Best Bartender” in Orlando, Florida in 1997. “The Quest for the Best Bartender” was one of the first major Flair bartending competitions ever… . The idea started with Toby Ellis meeting Alan Mays in D.C. and asking him if there was an organization he could join and he said “no but it’s a good idea”. So Toby said “let’s start one.” Many, many phone calls and long nights of planning later (it was called “project Eagles”) Toby made a 4 color, spiral-bound presentation and brought them to Orlando during “The Quest for the Best Bartender” competition that year . There he had Ken, Alan, and himself supporting the idea with a couple other guys hearing about it. They sat down in the main room of Mannequins with a pen and paper and first on the list to sign were long time Flair Legends and current champions Alan Mays and Ken Hall. After that everybody else fell in line. It started off as the Flair Bartenders Network (FBN) and in 1998 became what we know today as the Flair Bartenders Association (FBA). After the initial voting it was Toby Ellis as President and Jim Allison as Vice President.

Since then things have grown tremendously. There are now close to 10,000 members in over 137 countries. Quite a following if I must say so myself. All with the same fever for Flair. Now Jim Allison is the current President along with a Board of Directors, National Representatives (myself being one of six that represent the United States), Advisory Board and Ambassadors. Now the FBA has evolved to our governing body for our sport of Flair bartending. They helped uniform our rules, Implemented judging standards and scoring programs, bridged the gaps between nations, enabled us to communicate with other Flair bartenders around the globe, gave us a common voice and spread the gospel of Flair bartending worldwide in a positive manner. There slogan says it all “Service First, Flair Second, Competition Always…“.

With growth comes growing pains. We will discuss both sides of the bottle in this article and let you decide for yourself.

Pro_Tour_smallBefore we get started I think the FBA has done an amazing job getting the sport of Flair Bartending on the map and more importantly on network television. Helping it grow in leaps and bounds in the right direction. Also the FBA created the FBA Pro Tour. The FBA PRO TOUR is a points chase across the entire year of FBA Sanctioned Events. Competitors earn points at each event based on a multitude of factors. The most important factor being how well they did at the event. Competitors gain points from each competition no matter how well or poorly they place. The only points that count toward the PRO TOUR however are those earned in the OPEN division and PRO division of a competition. Amateur, Advanced, and Tandem points will not be calculated into the PRO TOUR standings for any competitor. The PRO TOUR Grand Champion, who simply gained the most points, will be announced at the last event of the year, but the awards ceremony will be held at the annual FBA Awards during the LEGENDS of BARTENDING event in Las Vegas every spring. Now that sounds great in all but, keep in mind this is a “points chase” competition. Not exactly the best way to rank Flair bartenders. Now if every competition in the world was part of the tour then that might level the playing field a little. But they are working on that. Keep in mind it would still mean the best Flair Bartender who competed in the most events that were part of the tour would be crowned the “Tour Champion”, not exactly the best Flair Bartender in the world but the best “ranked” Flair Bartender who finished the best in more of the FBA Pro Tour competitions. I think the FBA Pro Tour is off to a great start and with more support it can become greater.

Membership_cardSo what does membership get me? Allot actually. Good news once you are a member it is good for one year from the date you sign up. First off if you even want to compete in a major Flair bartending event you have to be an active FBA member. Some people are against this for many reasons. Does this mean any other Flair Bartending competitions that are not organized by the FBA are worthless? Hell NO! It just means you run the risk of not having qualified judges, standardized rules, guaranteed prize money and anything else that could potentially go wrong in running an organized Flair Bartending competition. I mean looking back I can’t recall off the top of my head a poorly run FBA organized event? There might have been some controversial judged competitions in the past but from that we now have FBA certified judges and a training and certification program. As long as we learn from our mistakes, there will always be good that can come from it.

Also for being a member you will get discounts at certain online stores where you purchase your tools of the trade like training videos, Flairco practice bottles, tins, etc… Another thing, it is the best way to communicate with Flair bartenders in your city and around the world. In the members lounge you can access the “forum”. Here you can post a comment, news or a question for all of the other members to see. This is one of the best benefits of being an active member. The FBA forum is a great form of communication for Flair Bartenders globally. Probably one of the best. Now with the good there is always bad. It seems some people take advantage of the forum for the wrong reasons. Now here is where more controversy begins… Do you censor certain things for different reasons or do you keep a “Free Speech” platform where you are not afraid to voice your true opinion in fear of being banned from the FBA? Where do you draw the line? Obliviously, the best way to treat this now is on a case by case basis.

FBC_issuesAlso the number one source for what’s hot in the world of Flair bartending is Flairbar.com. In the members lounge you can access all the back issues of Flairbar.com that you might have missed as well as be able to go back and read previous editions. They have so much content in each issue it is nice to be able to go back and reread things. Being an active member will get you access to video clips and a photo gallery to view as well. Also being an active member may entitle you to certain Flair jobs and special events in your area. When a special event comes up they look at the active members in the area first and take it from there. This is a great benefit for being a member.

Since 1997 the FBA has helped grow our sport of Flair to new levels. Each year growing more then the last. With our help and our membership dues this is possible. (Where does all that money go anyway?) there are different opinions about the FBA but the fact is without the success of the FBA there wouldn’t be as great as success with our sport of Flair bartending. That is the plain truth…

If you are interested in becoming a serious Flair bartender then it is almost a necessity that you join the Flair Bartenders Association. Here is the FBA Code of Conduct and a brief glimpse inside this worldwide organization to better the sport of Flair bartending. Enjoy…


As a member, I will:

1) Support the growth of Flair Bartending by encouraging and assisting others in their own development in a humble and respectful manner.

2) Dedicate myself to delivering phenomenal service.

3) Dedicate myself to a goal of 100% accuracy and 0% spillage.

4) Display fun, energetic, entertaining, and ethical behavior in the presentation of Flair to the public, media, and industry.

5) Encourage camaraderie and acceptance between all Flair bartenders, regardless of style, background, experience, or affiliation.

6) Uphold and support the Flair Bartenders’ Association, Inc. Mission statement.

7) Not use the Flair Bartenders’ Association, Inc. name or logo; nor disclose FBA information without the prior written consent from an authorized representative of the organization.

8) Have fun (in a safe, responsible, professional, and appropriate manner.)

9) Never make an ass of myself (and therefore the FBA) while:

a) Wearing any FBA name or logo wear

b) training, performing, exhibiting, speaking, or otherwise representing the FBA

c) in the presence of any outside parties who may be aware of my FBA affiliation

10) Shall take sole responsibility for any accidents or mishaps that may occur while practicing, performing or demonstrating the actions that are encouraged by the Flair Bartenders’ Association, Inc. and its members.



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