Flairtending at the TGI Friday’s Bar
Published 20 October 2010
I have always been a fan of TGI Friday’s. Not so much because of its food – although very tasty, but more so of what the chain represents. TGI (Thank God Its) Friday attempts to capture that moment of pure jubilation when at some point during that 5th consecutive (often long and hard) weekday you come to the happy realisation that the week is at last behind you, and the weekend lies ahead. When you enter a TGI’s establishment the emphasis is most definitely on trying to recreate that Friday feeling.
In contrast to the usual standard of customer service in and around London, the staff at TGI’s are brimming with energy and an all-American positivity, which I find genuine and engaging. You simply cannot help but get caught up in the mood while you are there. With their mission to serve up a “side order of entertainment with every meal” the staff will go out of their way to guarantee you have a great time. You get the feeling that creativity and personality is definitely encouraged by management and you cant help but think they go out of their way to recruit big personalities.
I was given the opportunity to try my hand at flair bartending – or “flairtending”, keeping in line with TGI’s philosophy. I discovered that there was more to this than just juggling a few bottles about before serving the drink. As Frodo, a senior barman at TGI’s, explained, it is all about transferring your energy, personality and flair from behind the bar onto your guests on the other side, creating a totally entertaining experience from the moment they order to their last drop.
In fact flairtenders like Frodo take their work very seriously. He explains that it is very much about being the best at what you do. Showmanship is key and flairtenders defiantly see themselves as showmen as they dedicate hours behind their trade, perfecting their moves and mixology knowledge. A tip: flairtenders are always looking to use their creativity and mixology know-how, and so love it when you give them the freedom to do so. So next time do not tell a cocktail flairtender your drink of choice, instead tell him what elements you like and he will produce something completely tailored to you.
TGI bartender Dave Foreman believes that your cocktail choice says a lot about who you really are. For example, according to Dave, people who choose champagne-based drink like a Grand Mimosa or a Bone Crusher are “smart, confident and driven by their career and desire to get ahead in life”. Whereas people who prefer tequila based cocktails are “gregarious and the life and soul of the party”.
In any case, what goes into a cocktail is only part of the story. After a lesson in how to make the perfect mojito and a lesson in the perfect 2 ounce free pour, we were treated to a fantastic display of flairtending at its best as two of the TGI senior bar staff participated in a “flair-off”. As they were also in preparation for the annual TGI Friday’s Flair Bartending Competition, the display was particularly impressive. Moves ranged from bouncing one of the steal mixers on the rubber floor before catching it again, to the very spectacular “boomerang straw” where the straw was flicked away only to have it come around in a semi circle back into the bartender’s hand. The display was a perfect example of how flairtenders really attempt to put attitude and style in every aspect of making your drink.