When Atilla Iskifoglu wanted to seek professional bartending training, there was nowhere he could go to learn. Today, he is one of the most popular flair bartenders in the world who has taught himself the best techniques all the way. He is in Chennai currently to train bartenders.
Atilla is eminently qualified to teach others, considering he has served some of the biggest stars, including Madonna and John Travolta. “I come from a singing background and years back saw bartenders do their trick at a flair bar. People absolutely loved watching them and I somehow knew that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life,” he says.
He approached many experts for training. When they refused, this did not deter him from doing what he wanted to do most. He would practice for eight to nine hours a day and started his full-fledged career in 1997. In 2000, he participated in his first competition in Turkey. “In 2001, I won the European championship and went on to be the No. 1 flair Bartender in Europe,” he notes.
Three months later, he participated in the World Championship and his little gig created quite a buzz. “I had dressed up like Jim Carrey in The Mask and did flair bartending. The judges were impressed and I won the second prize there,” he remembers, on a fond note. He has travelled across the globe to entertain, and more importantly, to train aspiring bartenders. He has appeared in Britain’s Got Talent and was featured on BBC. But, he says, the journey has not been easy. “When I wanted to learn the art, I went to many professionals, asking them to train me. They asked me to learn it myself, which I did. This is the reason why I do a lot of training. I have trained many aspirants here, who now work in top hotels. One of my students has now opened a bartending school in Mumbai,” Atilla says.
He is excited to be here in Chennai and plans to captivate people with his special cocktails. One of them is the Hangover Cocktail, something he devised after noticing in his 16-year-long career working behind bar counters, dishing up exotic drinks, that the hangover was a universal problem. . “I have created a recipe that helps in quick recovery from a hangover. It’s going to be the biggest thing in coming times and I am one of the first people to create it.”
You can catch Atilla live on Thursday and Friday at Blend, Taj Club House from 8 pm onwards.