The vibrant southeastern Florida city of Miami Beach in the United States – located just off the coast of Miami itself – has a brilliant yet constantly changing club landscape, where a fast-paced and sometimes challenging bar scene can see newly-opened establishments close within the space of months if demanding clientele decide to take their business elsewhere.
Located in the epicentre of the city’s South Beach neighbourhood, a district renowned for its high-energy nightclubs, opulent hotels and booming lounge and bar industry, Elite Bartending School and Event Staffing is in just the right place to respond to the constant demand for new bartenders and serving staff as premises shut down, expand or move to newer, bigger locations.
If you want to become a bartender in Florida, we’ve written a guide here.
Founded in 2008 by Gordon Eagerton, an industry pro of many years’ standing who has worked in some of Miami’s most prestigious hospitality institutions, Elite Bartending School and Event Staffing’s ethos is simple – ditch the stuffy beverages and outdated techniques of yesteryear and focus on what modern club-goers really want: fast, professional service of contemporary drinks which match the sophisticated vibe of the city’s party hotspots.
To do this Eagerton and his team have devised the school’s ‘Fundamentals of Bartending 1001’ program, a 40-hour course spread over two weeks (via four-hour morning, afternoon or evening sessions) or five weekends, and designed to morph students from wannabes to accomplished bartenders who could grace any pub, bar or restaurant in the city. With a classroom nestled within the glitzy decor and surrounded by the funky VIP mezzanines of IVY nightclub – formerly Club Play and host to many of the music’s biggest names, such as Diddy and LA Riots – on the city’s 5th Street, Elite rightly states that it ‘offers a classroom setting like no other’ – three real bars, POS (Point of Sale) compute terminals and a multi-level, fully functional facility which immerses pupils completely and allows for multiple students to practise at once, and receive one-to-one hands-on instruction from staff.
The school’s main ‘Fundamentals’ training program costs $550, including a registration fee and all the relevant books and materials, and is divided into numerous sections. Instruction is in the form of theory and practical lessons, interspersed with written tests, homework, quizzes and practising skills such as pouring techniques, garnish preparation and training on the POS system. Students will learn everything they need to tend bar, from tools and supplies to opening procedures, liquor classification, and studying wines and champagnes, as well as fun workshops on mixology and flair bartending to add some pizazz to your CV.
To build interpersonal skills and ensure you have the requisite legal knowledge, the school will also teach students about customer service, the process of IDing and fake IDs, the myriad rules and regulations of bartending, and research into BAC (Blood Alcohol Consumption). At the end of the forty-hour course, students take an hour-long written exam, a practical, and a pour test – if they pass then, and only then, will they be awarded the certification which they can use to gain employment, with the added bonus that the school is state licenced and also accredited by the BBB (Better Business Bureau), lending yet more weight to their résumé.
As well as the main program, Elite offers several shorter courses and workshops such as the entertaining three-hour Cocktail Workshop ($150), which will get amateur bar lovers mixing and serving their friends everything from Mojitos to Negronis, or the Flair Workshop (also $150 for three hours) where you can learn the dazzling tricks and bottle tosses which are guaranteed to wow the crowd. For $600, the complete Flair Program is a five-week, thirty-hour course taught by Flair experts from around the globe. At the same time, Advanced Mixology ($400) is designed for experienced or working bartenders to increase and improve their knowledge of drink mixing, presentation and ingredient design so that they are operating at the highest level.
Elite’s award-winning program – they have won the Miami New Times’ Best of the Best 2009-10 and the Talk of the Town Awards in 2010 and 2011 – is further boosted by the ongoing support it provides to alumni, from weekly job leads and employment assistance to lifetime membership where graduates can return at any time to brush up on their skills, and a Private Bartender Forum (offered to alumni, students and staff only) which contains recipes, discussions, job offers and more. They also operate an online bar store – via affiliate BarProducts.com – where students can purchase a raft of different bartending items and equipment.
Elite’s main USP is that as well as being a bartending school, it is also a staffing agency: they routinely operate and control staffing for large Miami events such as Miami Heat basketball games, Calle Ocho, Landshark Stadium games and the Ultra Music Festival, amongst many others. The opportunities here are huge for graduates and students alike.
1045 5TH ST, MIAMI BEACH, FL 33139
If you’re interested in getting a bartending license in other American states, we’ve written an article about the requirements for a bartender across America here.