Zante Flair Open History

The island of Zante has had a strong flair bartending scene for many years. It was a place where many bartenders would come to spend their summer time working in the bars and clubs on the island as a way of progressing and improving their skills, whilst having the summer of a lifetime! The connection with Roadhouse in London, the UK’s best-known flair bar, was made when many of their bartenders would take a summer break and choose to work a season in Zante as a bartender. The resort of Lagana was, and still is, one of Europe’s hottest nightlife destinations. The bartenders with flair skills, showmanship and knowledge were the most sought after and employable. They would work night after night on the front outside bars enticing the tourists from the street into their venues with their impressive flair shows, bar tricks, fire shows and extraordinary cocktail making skills. It was an amazing place for them to further their abilities whilst having an amazing experience at the same time!

In 2005 the first flair competition was held in Zante on the beach under the name the “Lagana Flair Competition”. An American called Drake organized the event as a friendly competition between the local bartenders and bars. It was a very basic, but fun first time experience for the competition. Drake continued to run the competition through until 2007 with it getting better and bigger each year.

George Kaponis then took over, who was at the time the Greek Flair Bartending Champion and competing internationally. He took the competition in a whole new direction as it then started collaborating with “Roadhouse” in London. The top three competitors in the “Lagana Flair Competition” would win a place in Roadhouse’s October World Open. This night in October was also a reunion for all the Zante workers to get together which meant the Zante Bartenders had a lot of support in the crowds as they competed on the big stage!

From then on, professional competition rules were put in place and professional judges took over the judging panel. The use of official competition bar set up became standard ever since, and it all got a bit more serious, yet still remained fun at the same time!

After five years running the show, Dennis Kalogerias took over in 2012. Dennis had also competed internationally and represented Greece in flair bartending at the (IBA) International Bartending Competition three times. He changed the name of the competition to the “Zante Flair Open”, instantly giving it a more global status. The competition began attracting more and more big names from the world of flair bartending, and as the number of competitors increased… the prize money increased too!

Competitors now come to Zante for the complete holiday package. Not only do they get to compete in a world-class competition, but they also have an organized itinerary to enjoy with many activities such as boat trips, enjoying traditional Greek nights to spending time on the beach or enjoying the local nightlife in the famous bars and nightclubs.

A range of different brands have sponsored the competition with the Zante Flair Open being a great marketing event and way of capturing audiences with the uniqueness that this competition has to offer.

Sponsoring the competition is a fantastic opportunity for any brand and brings them huge exposure to audiences.

In 2017-2018 and 2019 the competition finals was held at the world famous Navagio Shipwreck Beach. This was the first time an event has ever been held at this location, thanks to the special permission received from the local Municipality in Zante. Despite the logistics behind organizing an event in such a remote and inaccessible location- it was pulled off and exceeded all expectations of being a hugely successful Flair competition final. It even saw the judges and VIPs arrive by helicopter on to the beach. It was an experience like no other for any flair bartender to compete on Shipwreck Beach.

The Zante Flair Open now works closely with the Municipality and Tourism association of Zakynthos, the British Embassy, Rythmos Radio and many other local businesses. The competition’s main sponsor for the previous six years has been the global drinks brand Stolichnaya Greece. We are also proud to be sponsored and working closely with ‘The Bars Italian Manufacturing’. The competition also raises money for the charity ‘Zante Strays’, which rescues local animals, caring for and re-homing them.

The event continues to grow and expand year by year. The experience the competitors take away from competing in the Zante Flair Open is invaluable and provides them with lasting memories.

Zante Flair Open Past Winners

Zante Stoli 21 741 e1634495195924

Roman Zapata

Argentina

international winner

Zante Stoli 21 692 e1634495254726

Elizaveta Soboleva

Ukraine

Best Female

2021

2020

canceled

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
2019 deniss trifanovs

Deniss Trifanovs

Latvia

international winner

2019 alex bouas

alex bouas

Greece

ZANTE BEST BARTENDEr

2019

2018

2018 edgar suvarian

edgar suvarian

Armenia

international winner

2018 juliano tafaj

Juliano tafaj

Albania

ZANTE BEST BARTENDEr

2017 danilo oribe

danilo oribe

Uruguay

international winner

2017 vito flair

Vito flair

Lithuania

ZANTE BEST BARTENDEr

2017

2016

2016 kotaro mabuchi

kotaro mabuchi

Japan

international winner

2016 alex bouas 1

alex bouas

Greece

ZANTE BEST BARTENDEr

2015 mitsu kaneshiro

Mitsu Kaneshiro

Japan

international winner

2015 chris callow

Chris Callow

England

ZANTE BEST BARTENDEr

2015

2014

2015 mitsu kaneshiro

Mitsu Kaneshiro

Japan

international winner

2014 george caveman

George Caveman

Albania

ZANTE BEST BARTENDEr

2015 mitsu kaneshiro

Mitsu Kaneshiro

Japan

international winner

2013 warren parsonage

WARREN PARSONAGE

England

ZANTE BEST BARTENDEr

2013

2012

2012 adam ingram

adam ingram

Scotland

international winner

2012 adam ingram

adam ingram

Scotland

international winner

2011

2010

2010 dennis kalogerias

dennis kalogerias

Greece

international winner

2009 chris kellet 1

chris kellet

England

international winner

2009

2008

2010 dennis kalogerias

dennis kalogerias

Greece

international winner

2007 kevin danare 1

kevin danare

Sweden

international winner

2007

2006

2006 george kaponis 1

george kaponis

Greece

international winner

2005 oliver pluck

oliver pluck

Wales

international winner

2005