Major flair comp returns to Dubai

Dubai's flairtending scene is set to take off with a major flair competition at Apres
	ELR's Nick Hancock demonstrates his flairing skills.
ELR's Nick Hancock demonstrates his flairing skills.

Dubai’s flair bartending scene is set for a boost with the long-awaited return of the X-Treme Flair competition slated for this year.

The competition - sponsored by SKYY Vodka and fruit purée and syrup producer Monin - will see 30 of the UAE's flair bartenders vying for an AED 10,500 prize at Apres in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates on April 4, 2009.

The man behind the competition’s revival is Nick Hancock, former European flair champion and world runner-up, who joined Emirates Leisure Retail (ELR) as bar development manager last year.

“This is the long awaited second instalment of X-Treme Flair - the last one was September 2006,” explains Hancock, who added that now was the perfect time to revive the competition.

“There is now a blooming flair community in the UAE; the only problem has been that bartenders here have not had an event like this that will gain them recognition on a global scale and also to gel the flair community together,” he asserted.

According to Hancock, the event’s revival has provoked “lots of enquiries” from Dubai’s flair community.
“[The industry] is really buzzing about it,” he said. “It's going to be tough, as we can only accommodate a maximum of 30 competitors!”

Hancock urged any bartenders who were interested in the competition to join his group on social networking website Facebook for more information.

“I will be updating the Facebook page (World Flair Association - Middle East) and sending out official invites very soon with all the contact details required to pitch for entry,” he explained.

Hancock said he had high hopes for the region’s flair bartending scene, but admitted there would be challenges ahead.

“The main challenge will be putting the word out to the rest of the world that the UAE does have a big flair scene,” he predicted.

“As it stands, the rest of the world's bar community just hear about Dubai's glamorous hotels, in which the hotel bars have made a name for themselves with the mixology side of bartending.

“Mixology has become part-and-parcel of that Dubai hotel experience, with hotel bars wanting to offer quality drinks to their clientele. Naturally the liquor suppliers have reacted to this by putting up many mixology competitions over the past few years to support their brands. This has pushed bartenders to look into the more creative ways of making and designing drinks,” he continued.

“But with competitions and events such as X-Treme Flair, and through the World Flair Association, I believe that in the next six to 12 months the UAE will be fully on the flair bartending world map.”

Hancock added that he would be working with organisations such as the World Flair Association and Dubai’s first officially-recognised bartender’s association Mastah to support the growth of the region’s flair scene.

“I personally will be organising a monthly ‘Flair in the Park’ meeting - while the weather isn't too hot - where anyone can come along to practice,” he added.

“And as far as further plans go, it's a case of 'watch this space’; there is much more to come over the next 12 months!”

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