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by Camden Ford, July 6, 2018

Brighton Cocktail Week is kicking off on 6 July and making a tasty splash in Brighton this year, culminating with the Flair World Championships 2018 in The Haunt on Sunday 15th. This grand finale has been put together by world class flair bartender, and Brighton-born local, Steve Parsons, in partnership with Bacardi.

We caught up with Steve to get his take on the cocktail scene in Brighton, the rise of flair bartending and so we could get a glimpse of what to expect from some of the finalists.

Steve Parsons is a veteran of the flair bartending circuit, having attended competitions and events for over 15 years. In the past couple of years he has been moving his focus to organising events and pushing the passion and creativity of this community out into the public spotlight.

Steve has always been keen to bring the flair bartending scene into Brighton. With such a rich seam of performing arts and a huge variety of artistic subcultures, and an enormous number of bars and pubs, Brighton feels like the perfect spot for Steve to promote his passion.

After convincing Bacardi last year that he could run an event single-handed, he managed to pull off a stunning show with just 3 cases of rum. This year, he has returned to secure a bigger deal and a larger venue.

Diving into the world of flair bartending with Steve, it’s clear that it’s about much more than making drinks and throwing a few cocktail shakers in the air. The dedication and skill of the performers is incredible. Performances can last up to 8 minutes and the bartenders themselves will plan out their backing music, the drinks they want to make and the choreography of the whole set.

Steve is quick to challenge some of the misconceptions people have about flair bartending. In a bar scenario, the most important thing is getting drinks out to customers while throwing in moves that don’t cost any mixing time, at least to start with. If you get a good reception, he argues, then it’s time to up the game a bit, but if no one’s watching or if the bar is 6-deep, it’s best to keep it simple.

He’s also keen to get people to consider flair bartending and mixology as two sides of the same bartending coin. Mixology is all about the composition of the cocktail, while flair bartending more about the performance and the atmosphere. You’re making top quality cocktails either way, he says, but each craft has a different focus and, currently, you see mixology being more prominent in the public eye, which is one of the things Steve is hoping to rectify with this event!

For reference – if you’ve recently tried something along the lines of a ‘Smoked Unicorn Tear Negroni’, you’ve experienced a bit of mixology, whilst if you’ve seen someone spin and toss several bottles and shakers together while making 4 different cocktails in a matter of minutes, that’s flair.

Brighton Cocktail Week (plus a couple of days) kicks off this Friday (6 July) and it couldn’t come at a better time – who doesn’t like the idea of sipping their favourite, ice-cold, cocktail on the beach in this heat?

Until Sunday 15th, you can grab a £10 wristband (check out the end of this post for more details) and pop into any one of the nearly 40 bars, theatres, pubs and clubs to try out their specially chosen cocktail of the week for just £5.

There will be luaus, pub takeovers, alcoholic ice cream parlours, cocktail-making masterclasses and even a world record attempt during this brilliant, cocktail-themed week, and it will all culminate in the Brighton Flair World Open 2018, an entire evening of incredible performers and spectacular drinks.

The grand finale of Brighton cocktail week kicks off at 5pm at The Haunt. Top flair bartenders from across the country will be competing to take home the £1,500 prize – and the glory of victory, of course.

There will be battle royale-style eliminations and individual displays, all judged by a panel of experts on style, execution, showmanship, and practicality (you’ve got to get those drinks served, after all!).

Flair bartending is about putting on a show and Steve is hoping to take this ethos to the next level, with smoke machines, pyrotechnics, incredible DJs, dancing and a hell of a lot of impressive bartending skills across the entire week.

Described by Fatboy Slim as “the thinking man’s Grandmaster Flash”, Brighton’s very own turntablist DJ JFB is running the music for the final night and has been working closely with Steve to pin down the effects and ambience for the evening.

The final round will show off the top 7 flair masters in the world, with rumours of a wildcard challenger making a last-minute appearance.

Read up on the competitors on the Brighton Flair World Open 2018 Facebook page to prep you for an evening of entertainment, music, cocktails and dancing.

So, come and join us on Sunday 15 July to enjoy Brighton Cocktail Week’s official closing party and the biggest flair competition that the city has ever seen. This triple event will include a trade show, a world class flair bartending competition, and the night finishes off with headline DJ JFB.

It is sure to measure up!

Links:

Brighton Cocktail Week

Brighton Flair World Open 2018 – Facebook

Brighton Flair World Open 2018 – Daily Brighton

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