When most of us think about "flair" bartending, one image comes to mind: Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail, flipping bottles of booze to the sounds of the Beach Boys' "Kokomo."
Stephen Pacacha says it's time to erase that image from our memories.
"They really don't do much flair in that movie, just a couple of moves," he says. "A lot of people still don't know what flair [really] is."
Pacacha is an exception. He started bartending more than 13 years ago, and began participating in flair competitions in 2008. That's also when he founded Liquid Flair Entertainment with Mike Mills (who bartends at Meat & Potatoes as well as Butcher and the Rye). It's a full-service drinks operation designed to entertain wedding guests, corporate clients and private partygoers.
"We're a one-stop shop," says Pacacha, meaning that Liquid Flair supplies its clients the booze, the bar equipment and the clean-up. More importantly, he says, "We try to tailor our cocktails to whatever the scene may be."
For example, at a recent wedding with a "whimsical" theme, the colors of the cocktails were designed to match the wedding's color scheme. Liquid Flair's cocktail list included a lilac Aviation variation (gin, lemon, simple syrup, crème de violet) and a burgundy-toned play on the Sazerac called "Forbidden Smoke" (bourbon, chamomile-honey simple syrup, bitters, Scotch mist).
But the real draw is the show. Pacacha says that clients will see two types of flair bartending. "Working" flair is just like it sounds: a couple of smooth moves, a bit of attitude with the shake, but no Cruiseian bottle flips. "Exhibition" flair is far more elaborate. One of Pacacha and Mill's current numbers, for instance, is a Three Stooges-inspired routine, set to the electro-swing sounds of Yolanda Be Cool's "We Speak No Americano."
And the chance to see two bartenders in action, Pacacha adds, also sets Liquid Fair apart: "Nobody really gets to see tandem flair, unless you're in Las Vegas or at a bartending competition."