In 2005, Zante witnessed the birth of the inaugural flair competition, known as the “Lagana Flair Competition,” held on the sandy shores of Laganas. Orchestrated by the spirited American organizer, Drake, the event initially served as a friendly showdown among local bartenders and bars. While the first iteration was delightfully basic, it set the stage for an annual spectacle that only grew in excitement and scale with each passing year under Drake’s enthusiastic direction, continuing until 2007.

Enter George Kaponis, the reigning Greek Flair Bartending Champion at the time, with a penchant for international competition. Embracing a fresh perspective, Kaponis forged a partnership with London’s “Roadhouse.” The stakes were raised as the top three contenders in the “Lagana Flair Competition” earned coveted spots in Roadhouse’s prestigious October World Open. This particular night became a joyous reunion for Zante’s workers, creating an electrifying atmosphere of support for local bartenders gracing the grand stage.

As the competition evolved, professional rules and discerning judges assumed control, ushering in a more serious tone without sacrificing the inherent fun. In 2012, Dennis Kalogerias assumed leadership, rebranding the competition as the “Zante Flair Open.” Instantaneously, the event gained global recognition, attracting big names in flair bartending and escalating prize money alongside the growing number of competitors.

Beyond the competition, Zante became the ultimate destination for participants seeking to combine extreme competition with an unforgettable holiday experience. The allure extended beyond the flair battle to include organized activities such as boat trips, traditional Greek nights, beach excursions, and exploration of the vibrant local nightlife at renowned bars and nightclubs.

The Zante Flair Open garnered support from diverse brands, offering them a unique marketing platform to captivate audiences. Sponsoring the event proved to be a fantastic opportunity for brands, affording them significant exposure.

In a remarkable turn of events in 2017-2019, the competition finals unfolded at the iconic Navagio Shipwreck Beach. Securing special permission from the local Municipality in Zante, this unprecedented location added a thrilling dimension to the competition. Despite the logistical challenges, the event surpassed all expectations, with judges and VIPs making a grand entrance by helicopter onto the beach. For flair bartenders, competing on Shipwreck Beach became an unparalleled experience.

Today, the Zante Flair Open collaborates closely with the Municipality and Tourism association of Zakynthos, the British Embassy, Rythmos Radio, and numerous local businesses. Stoli Greece has proudly served as the main sponsor for the past 10 years. Additionally, the competition lends its support to the charity ‘Zante Strays,’ dedicated to rescuing, caring for, and re-homing local animals.

The Zante Flair Open stands as a testament to continual growth and expansion. Participating in this extraordinary event not only offers competitors a chance to showcase their skills but also provides them with invaluable and lasting memories.