He has been a flair bartender and mixologist since 1995, He has participated in world championships to showcase his skill of flair bartending with the idea of making it popular. We are talking about the Turkish man with a penchant for flipping bottles, Atilla Iskifoglu, who, with a combination of live shows, television appearances and YouTube videos has made flair bartending a trend indeed. He also participated in Britain’s Got Talent. And, after that appearance, he believes that flair bartending became a rage in the UK. But, what exactly is it? “Flair bartending that got popular in the mid-1990s, includes juggling, flipping and manipulating bar tools,” explains Atilla, who made a pit-stop in the city to teach Hyderabadi bartenders about the craft and also give them an insight into scientific bartending, which is nothing but the science behind mixing drinks. “A lot of bartenders don’t know much about mixing drinks. They just whip up a cocktail as per the menu and serve it to customers,” observes Atilla, who wants to spread the knowledge of scientific bartending throughout the world. “I am on a world tour – teaching bartenders the skill of flair bartending, which is a growing trend today. It is also one of the growing forms of entertainment across the globe,” informs the self-taught flair bartender, who would spend around eight-nine hours a day to master the art.
Cocktail vs Mocktail
As Atilla sips on his glass of water, he explains that he is not too much of an alcohol-person. “I don’t drink a lot of alcohol. And, whenever I do feel like drinking, I have a little Havana Rum,” informs Atilla, who is a bit of a health-freak. The Turkish bartender spends his time and creativity in coming with a variety of cocktails and mocktails. “I love making mocktails – those are healthy and refreshing,” he smiles.
He says that is it all about having the knowledge to mix drinks up. “I have a big book with me, which has abundant information about vitamins and nutrients that come in with fruits and veggies. I try to incorporate those in my cocktails and mocktails.” He believes that this way he can reduce the negative effects of alcohol to a minimum.
“Alcohol, burns the stomach and leads to a health problems. We can’t deny that. But, we can reduce its bad effects by using fresh and healthy ingredients and by reducing the alcohol content in a cocktail,” he adds.
Atilla, who has come up with around 300 different cocktails till now, uses some very unusual ingredients when he mixes up drinks for his customers. The most unconventional being spinach. Really? “Yes. I don’t use it in all my drinks. But, I do add spinach in few of my drinks and the customers have loved it,” he shares. Other ingredients that can be found in Atilla’s drinks include honey (instead of sugar syrup), fresh fruits juices (instead of canned ones), ginger, walnuts and some spices. “Using these ingredients not only help us in making a drink taste better, but it also helps reduce the negative effects of a cocktail. Fruits absorb alcohol and honey is healthier when compared to sugar syrup,” he adds.
Being a bartender means holding major responsibility, according to Atilla. “As bartenders, we have to make sure that we know what we are serving our customers,” he says, adding that a bartender should learn everything about mixology before going behind the counter to whip up drinks. “This is the reason I am going across the world to train bartenders. I definitely want to spread the art of flair bartending, but I also want to teach bartenders about responsible bartending. Making a cocktail is not just about mixing up spirits and squeezing some lime on top of it. It is about mixing a drink keeping the customer in mind,” signs off Atilla, who wants to spread the word and knowledge about healthy mocktails and cocktails.
While he is busy touring, Atilla continues to practice flair bartending, gearing up to participate in another upcoming championship.