Jono Firstbrook launches a bottle high above his head.
The object spins purposefully before falling and landing with precision in a metal tin he has waiting in his left hand.
A cheeky smile acknowledges the catch before he sends his tools somersaulting through the air above the Friday-night crowd. This time he adds another bottle to the mix and, like bowing dancers, the objects finish gracefully in unison.
Welcome to the world of flair bartending.
“It’s a skill that takes years to learn and even longer to master,” says Firstbrook. “We all try and grow our sport, but the dedication it takes to be good is hard to find in the average person.
“I had chosen a brief career in bartending to help me pay my way through university and started working with the top flair bartenders in Canada. I was hooked when I saw what they could do and how the crowd loved to watch.”
Beside him, O Bar colleague and close friend Alex Barlow balances a bottle on his shoulder. In a swift casual movement, he lets go of the liquor bottle and watches it roll the length of his arm. The bottle nudges his fingers, signaling him to flip it high into the air before turning it vertical and tipping the contents into a martini glass.
For Barlow too, this is more than just a job.
“Flair is important because it adds a unique style and difficulty to an already incredibly difficult task, that task being bartending,” Barlow says. “It’s something that is becoming more popular, but it’s not as popular as it could be at the moment due to the difficulty of it.”
Lachlan Morris is also a well-known name in the island’s flair scene.
“I remember first seeing it back in 2005 at a show in the U.K. Instantly I was hooked and went back and broke every bottle in the bar,” Morris says.
“Unfortunately, it is not everywhere you go. [The main reason is] it really takes two to three years’ solid practice, about 40 hours a week to get good.”
It’s that dedication that has Morris standing at Royal Palms Beach Club bar, balancing the base of a glass on the tip of a spoon – all while he pours a drink.
“If you are interested, practice really is the key, and if you can’t do it 9 out of 10 times … you probably shouldn’t try it at work, but practice, practice, practice, and be patient,” he urges.
Next month, the bartenders, along with Cayman Spirits, will launch the Cayman Flair Club to teach people to flair and to help others enhance their skills.
And for those who want to learn to fire breathe – don’t hold your breath.
“Fire breathing is not part of flair, that’s a common misconception,” Firstbrook says.
“We [bartenders] do it for entertainment purposes sometimes, but it is extremely dangerous to anyone not properly trained. Fire breathing is banned from flair everywhere and also in all bars in North America.”
To enroll in Cayman Flair Club, visit Billy Bones, O Bar, or Cayman Spirits. or email [email protected] For those who would rather just watch, flair can be seen on the island at O Bar, Royal Palms, Margaritaville and Billy Bones Pool Bar.