I’m here with Hasan, he works for Bacardi-Martini. Can you tell me are you a brand ambassador or a trade ambassador for Switzerland?
A trade ambassador. I look after one country, in my case Switzerland, for all of our premium brands. A brand ambassador looks after one brand but covers more country’s.
Hasan is someone that’s hard to find now-a-days, he’s a flair bartender. Now he’s in charge of mixology and presenting of the Bacardi-Martini portfolio. Can you tell me how it all started for you?
I started flair in ’93 and at that time the “Cocktail” film came out and I was inspired from that. I even met Tom Cruises flair trainer, John Bandy and that really pushed me to start with flair. I started with empty Coca-Cola bottles and some simple tricks. Back then there were no videos, no YouTube. There were your dreams and ideas in the evening and when you would wake up you would do your best to master them.
After I set my style I started competing. I won my first championship in Turkey while I was still living there and after a few I decided to start training people. Following that I moved to Switzerland and when you move to a country nobody know you, you have to prove yourself. So I went back to flair. One year later I won the Swiss championship, after that I won it 10 more times. I also won the final Bacardi-Martini world final in 2002. All in all, I did a lot of things. Flair helped me a lot. I started as a bartender and I realized that with flair you can reach all the people in the room not just the ones in front of you. Flair was important to me, but at the end the final product of the drink was the most important part.
Do you think that mixologists now are much better then the bartenders before?
Mixologists concentrate more on the kitchen side, they go more into how to mix and blend tastes. But I still call them bartenders because the first rule of any kind of bartending is to be polite. I saw a lot of mixologists that are amazing at what they do but sometimes they forget to communicate with the guests. Some of them take it the wrong way and they start to explain to the guests what, why, when and the deeper into those details they get the more separate from the guests they are. We as bartenders won’t save the world, our job is to make drinks and entertain people and we need to do that with style. That’s what flair is for me.
Do you think flair will have a comeback in the future?
I think flair lost a lot of it’s credibility because of the juggling. Some bartenders are more focused on that than they are on getting finished quality drinks. As flair is a part of bartending, the end product is important, it should always be a priority. Back in the day I also did Roadhouse so I’ll take that as an example. It’s good for entertaining because it’s more of a street flair so it’s great to watch, but in the end if the drink is no accounted for and it’s not as good as the show, the whole thing can just go in a wrong direction.
Do you like the new concept of bottle and tin competition?
Bottle and tin? I don’t know what that is hahaha, I’m a bit old school. My last competition was in 2006 so I really don’t know. I noticed that a lot of bartenders concentrate on catching bottles more than they do on anything else. I would always concentrate on the people. They look at you and you need to show them something worth watching. If you choose to do something hard and complicated, you make it hard to watch and they can’t enjoy it.
You mentioned a nice story regarding why you remember Croatia and who exactly you remember from there.
Ohhh yes hahah. Marin Nekić, ask him and he will explain everything hahaha. But to summon it up I was in Czech Republic for a competition in ’97 I think. I was doing flair and that wasn’t very popular at that time, Marin was there helping in the bar. It was the first time IBA organized a flair competition and two years later they decided to make it official as it got more popular. So after the 97′ competition Marin got inspired by it and decided to start doing flair. Three years later he ended up in the world final…against me hahaha. He was actually beating me, he has a lot of passion for it and that’s really important. I’m happy that I could inspire him, he’s a great guy and he does an amazing job back in Croatia. As I said he can tell it in more detail but if he reads this, greetings to him.