The Cocktail College Podcast: Flair Bartending

“Cocktail College” is brought to you by Ketel One Vodka. Certain brands out there, certain vodka brands, want you to believe that these spirits should be flavorless and odorless. And they achieve this profile through multiple runs of distillation in column stills. They actually celebrate this thing; they market it. But you’re a discerning drinker, “Cocktail College” listener, aren’t you? And you know that vodka should have character, subtle character, and that arrives from the base ingredient and the production technique. In the case of Ketel One, we’re talking about a wheat base, made using a blend or a mix of pot and column still distillation. And what you get there is character, but subtle character, so that it’s going to enhance but never overpower your favorite vodka cocktails, your Martinis, your Cosmos. Ketel One stands so firmly behind this production technique that on every single bottle there’s an invitation for you, the drinker, to visit them at their Netherlands distillery. And hey, why wouldn’t they? They’ve only got 330 years of family distilling experience right there. So it’s understandable that they back themselves, and you should back them too, listener. You should pick up a bottle and head to to learn more. Please Drink Responsibly. KETEL ONE Vodka. Distilled from Grain. 40% Alc./Vol. Double Eagle Brands, B.V. Imported by Ketel One USA, Aliso Viejo, CA

“Professor” Jerry Thomas penned one of America’s first books devoted solely to cocktails and their creation, “Jerry Thomas’ Bar-Tenders Guide: How to Mix All Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks,” and is often considered the grandfather of mixology. One of his more overlooked contributions to drinks culture, however, is the advent of “flair” bartending.

It’s a phenomenon that’s waxed and waned over the years but has always existed in some fashion, whether it be behind the stick at a TGI Friday’s, at international competitions devoted strictly to the art of the flair, or at one of Las Vegas’s premier cocktail bars. But flair bartending isn’t just bells, whistles, and bottle juggling; it’s a choreographed dance between showmanship, craftsmanship, and hospitality. As our guest today explains, “If you’re an incredible flair bartender, but you have no cocktail knowledge and no speed, you’re not a very good bartender.”

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On this episode of “Cocktail College,” we’re diving into the history, styles, community, and culture of flair bartending with Lindsay Palumbo, a certified flair bartender, instructor, and competitor who extols her trade at the Circa Hotel and Casino on Las Vegas’s Fremont Street. It’s Blue Blazers, TGI Friday’s, and a certain actor with the initials “T.C.,” and it’s all right here on “Cocktail College.” Tune in for more.

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