FAQ > Chris The Bartender FAQ: > I flair just fine with practice bottles. However, when I use real bottles, I keep spilling. What am I doing wrong?

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Good question, one almost everyone has when they’re starting out. It comes down to the difference between working flair and exhibition flair. Working flair is any manipulation of bottles, tins, or other bar objects, (flair) that can be performed with the bottle filled to any level. Basically, anytime you open a new bottle, put a pour spout on it, and start flairing (not flipping), that's working flair. You'll notice ALL of the flair videos I have posted so far (and probably the next 5-10) focus specifically on working flair. With some practice, you should be able to perform all of these moves with a nearly-full bottle. It's actually a good idea to practice with a half full bottle, once you get the basics of the move, so you can get comfortable with the weight and be sure you're not spilling. Exhibition flair, on the other hand, is flair that is generally performed with just a couple ounces of liquid in the bottle. The difference being that you can actually flip or spin the bottles. Exhibition flair is used at competitions, demonstrations, and anytime you are lucky enough at work to make a drink using a nearly empty bottle. Exhibition flair is generally more exciting to watch; however, it is less practical at work. To recap: working flair can use a nearly full bottle, involves tossing the bottle around your body, but NEVER flipping or spinning. You can’t fight physics. Exhibition flair requires a nearly empty bottle and incorporates flips or spins.

If you are following my tutorials for basic working flair and are still having problems with spilling, I have a few suggestions that might help. Most importantly, be sure you are NEVER spinning or actually flipping the bottle but rather using the bottle's momentum to create fluid circles of motion that keep the liquid in the bottle. Your moves should never be jarring, choppy, or sudden - think Mr. Miyagi, make slow, smooth, controlled motions. Second, start with the bottle just a quarter full - or even less - and practice with that until you are comfortable, then up it to half full until you're comfortable with that, then try three-quarters and finally a full bottle. Third, try a new or different pour spout - the Spill-Stop 285-50 is the preferred pour spout for most flair bartenders, but you might try a different one to see if you like it better. Finally, and most importantly, practice, practice, and practice some more. If it was easy, every bottle-jockey would be doing it. Have patience and be confident that you WILL succeed if you stick with it. If you're still spilling everywhere after trying all of these, upload a video of you flairing (and spilling) to YouTube and send me the link. I'll check it out and see what's up.