With bars such as Sweet Liberty and the Broken Shaker winning national and international accolades, Miami has one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic cocktail scenes.
Of course, the lifeblood and soul of a bar is its bartenders. These individuals are tasked with not only making delicious drinks but also serving as ambassadors to the public — providing a friendly face and a welcoming demeanor to make customers feel at home.
Some also go far beyond the call of duty by performing "flair." Some say flair bartending has been around since the late 19th Century, when a bartender called "Professor" Jerry Thomas tossed a fiery cocktail called the Blue Blazer in New York City, causing a sensation. Tom Cruise made flair bartending a household word in the 1980s hit Cocktail, and international flair competitions showcase bartenders competing for prizes and peer recognition.
Miami's flair bartenders perform everything from brain teasers and shaker juggling to magic. Repour's Isaac Grillo says that showing a customer a brain teaser or a trick is a great way to provide a bit of a distraction so he and his staff have time to make a cocktail properly.
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The Butcher Shop's Albert, who calls himself the "Houdini of Bellinis," is all about sleight of hand. He has his own take on the classic shell game.
And Drinkhouse Fire & Ice's Walter taps into Professor Thomas' legacy of hot thrills by playing with literal fire.
Despite all of the showmanship, the experience still comes down to the cocktail, Walter says. "You're a bartender first and foremost."