So as an uncoordinated human with two left hands I am probably the least qualified person to say this but it’s true. Or at the very least is true for the Australian Bar Industry. While a super fun party trick that will impress anyone and everyone, flair bartending is a useless skill. Take note though, I did call it a skill, because despite being completely useless in the working world it is still a talented skill that takes training, hard work and dedication. so now that I’ve probably offended an entire group of talented bartenders I should probably begin to explain myself.
Let’s start off with the complete impracticality of it. Most bars have enough space for stock, glassware and a couple of twink bartenders and that’s it. Room to move is not included here. So you can picture why a showboat swinging bottles around and throwing glassware isn't going to end well; if they can manage not to take out any staff or stock with no wastage breaks or spills it would be a miracle.
Then let's consider the fun police. As many of you would be aware, the alcohol industry in Australia is highly regulated; more regulations means more reasons for fines which means higher revenue for an already highly taxed industry. No, really! In Australia you may only serve alcohol by standard way of measure, meaning everything must be perfectly measured using jiggers and measuring glasses - no free pouring, even if you think you have the perfect eye. Glassware and measuring units must be certified to ensure they meet the requirements, it's all a bit dramatic bit it is what it is. So to break the flow of the show to make sure each spirit or alcohol ingredient is correctly measured just wouldn't work, fiddly = messy.
The layout and design of a working bar also differs greatly to that of a flair bar. Flairing is often taught and learnt using specially designed bottles and equipment. In a functional bar you have spirits and mixers in their original packaging - a design to look good on a shelf, not to be tossed around. The differentiating sizes, weights, and shapes makes it much more difficult to juggle - literally.
So, that being said, why do people bother? Well let's be honest; it looks cool!
Flair bartending certainly has it's place as a show, a performance to entertain. A special event with a perfectly designed flair bar is of course going to be a showstopper and impress people, but it's not going to be your main serve of drinks.
It's not going to get you a job in a real bar, your knowledge and personality will though. Learn the party tricks - but keep them at the party.