Thursday, 14 October 2010

Cocktail Flairing 101

By Kate Williams

Oh God, I should have hated it. It was a night where the things on this Earth that I find most unpleasant were combined with enough alcohol to guarantee I made a fool of myself. And yet... And yet...

When my editor said I'd be going along to TGI Friday’s in Covent Garden, for a cocktail master class, I was slightly underwhelmed. I don't hate TGI’s but I'd never go there of my own volition. It's just a bit cheesy, isn’t it?

Still, I went along, taking my friend Sally for moral support, which I needed because of the premise of the evening.

Sally and I would be teamed up against other bloggers, and taught to not only mix an decent cocktail, but to perform TGI’s world famous flairing too. For the uninitiated, flairing is the practice whereby bartenders dazzle customers with the throwing, twirling and catching of bottles, glasses and whatever else they can lay their nimble fingers on.

Here's where the fear sets in.

To start with, neither me nor Sally are known for our dexterity. I'm pretty sure that the hateful slight “catches like a girl” originates from someone observing my year nine rounders practice, and Sally's catchphrase is genuinely “I'm due a fall.” This doesn't bode well, for either for us, or for the molecular structure of the bottles we’re due to start flinging about willy-nilly.

Then there's the fact that we'd be performing these skills once we'd learned them. For me, audience participation is a filthy phrase. I'm not so much shy, as a massive party pooper. Plainly, I don't like to join in.

See what I mean? It should have been hateful. Instead, I had such a brilliant time!

First up, I took my first ever steps behind the bar (I know, shocking) and was taught to make a mojito, which uncontroversially is my favourite ever cocktail. Limes, mint, sugar, ice, soda...It wasn't as hard to conjure something drinkable as some bars make it seem (take note Guanabara).

Next came the hard part: the flaring. Guided by the supremely talented barman, me and Sally were taught to spin tins, free pour booze from two bottles at a time, and flip half full glasses without spilling a drop of the toxic-coloured Purple Rain that we’d opted to make.

It's not that it wasn't easy... it wasn't possible. When it came to our turn to perform, we were fumbled our way through our hastily learned routine, punctuated with giggles and amazingly, and undeservedly... we won! But then the judges didn’t have to taste the end result, which I craftily pushed aside and concentrated on the mojitos.

Much fun was had, and as flairing lessons aren’t available to the public, I’d recommend befriending a TGI’s bartender and getting them to teach you a few tricks.

As for TGI’s being cheesy, well, it just is, but that’s not a reason not to go. It’s fun and friendly, and the drinks are really nice. In the meantime, check out this talent. Unfortunately, all footage of me showcasing my skills has... err, mysteriously disappeared.

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