If Cocktail is the first place your mind goes when you hear “flair bartending,” well, you aren’t the only one. (It’s Coyote Ugly for the rest.) But you shouldn’t be subject to any of Coughlin’s laws — at least, we hope not — at Stone Oak’s new flair-bartending outpost, Duo Rock Lounge.
For those not in the know, the showy alcoholic art form is said to have its start with Jerry Thomas, an 1800s saloon bartender. Mr. Thomas is reputed to have developed a drink known as the Blue Blazer by fancifully combining boiling water and whiskey.
Flair bartending became super popular in the ‘90s (I can’t imagine why), when competitions and flair-bartending clubs — such as the Flair Bartender’s Association — were officially established.
“It’s a great show,” says Jim Shearer, owner of the Austin branch of the ABC bartending schools of America. “I wouldn’t call it practical bartending. It’s speed and showmanship, that’s how I see it.”
Bernardo Ortega, co-owner of Duo Rock Lounge, considers flair one of the bar’s main attractions — the other being rock music, natch — and plans to introduce competitions similar to those which have drawn thirsty crowds in Miami, New York, and Las Vegas.
“We wanted to do something different,” Ortega says. “You can forget about the stress of everyday life. You’re a doctor, an executive, during the day, but at night you can come and relax, enjoy the music and the fun.” I’m not sure how relaxed I get marveling at bartenders as they toss heavy glass bottles and sharp bar utensils over their heads, but these are no amateurs — flair bartending’s an acquired skill that involves more than meets the eye. “It takes anywhere from six to eight months to get really good at this type of bartending,” Shearer says. “But there are a few tricks to it. When they’re about to throw those bottles in the air, they can only put about one ounce of liquor into the bottle. Otherwise, they can’t flip them. But I think it’s really entertaining to see them perform.”
Duo Rock Lounge
523 Med Court
The Skinny Non-flair amenities include a 23-foot illuminated LED backdrop, HD flat-panel TVs broadcasting rock music videos
Don’t Miss Exclusive drinks named after rock musicians, such as “the Radiohead,” “the Blondie,” and Mick Jagger
Hours 4pm-2am, Mon-Sat
Prices Domestic beers: $3, imports: $4, mixed drinks: $5-6, premium drinks: $7