Professional Bartending Schools: A Comprehensive Guide

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: January 20, 2024
  • Time to read: 11 min.

In the world of mixology and spirits, professional bartending schools have emerged as a significant stepping stone for individuals interested in crafting memorable experiences one drink at a time. This article will take you through the ins and outs of professional bartending schools.

Key Takeaways

  • Choosing the right bartending school involves carefully considering factors such as reputation, curriculum, practical training, and job placement services.
  • A professional bartending school provides comprehensive education, from theory to practical training, preparing students for various career opportunities in the food and beverage industry.
  • The skills acquired from a bartending school can significantly impact personal development and interpersonal relationships.

The Rise of Professional Bartending

The Evolution of Bartending

Once considered a transient job, bartending has evolved into a respected profession, with skilled individuals making significant impacts in the food and beverage industry. This evolution is largely due to the rising interest in craft cocktails and the culture of mixology.

Why Professional Bartending?

In a world increasingly fascinated by craft cocktails and the culture of mixology, there are several compelling reasons to consider professional bartending as a career. Not only is it a creative and social job, but it also offers the opportunity to create memorable experiences for patrons.

The Role of Bartending Schools

What is a Professional Bartending School?

Imagine a place where the clinking of glasses merges with the buzz of learning – welcome to a professional bartending school. These institutions provide the knowledge and skills needed to excel in the fast-paced bartending world.

Why Attend a Bartending School?

Choosing to attend a professional bartending school can seem like a big decision. However, there are several advantages that these institutions offer to aspiring bartenders. These include learning the tricks of the trade, understanding drink composition, and honing customer service skills.

Remember that many jurisdictions require a server license to bartend, so check the requirements for your local area.

We have listed the requirements for America, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Choosing the Right Bartending School

Factors to Consider

When selecting the right bartending school, several factors come into play. It’s not just about the cost or location but also the quality of education and the opportunities post-graduation. Reputation, course content, training facilities, and job placement assistance are crucial aspects to consider.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Choosing a bartending school can be daunting, and it’s easy to fall into some common traps. Here are some mistakes to avoid in your selection process: not researching the school’s reputation, overlooking the importance of practical training, and not considering job placement services.

Inside a Professional Bartending School

Curriculum Overview

A professional bartending school offers a rich and comprehensive curriculum that covers everything from the basics of mixology to the art of customer service. Students learn about different types of spirits, cocktail recipes, pouring techniques, and more.

Practical Training and Internship Opportunities

Learning the theory behind bartending is essential, but nothing beats the hands-on experience of making cocktails and serving customers. Many schools offer practical training and internships, giving students real-world experience in a controlled environment.

Online Bartending Classes

In this digital age, aspiring bartenders can learn from the comfort of their homes. Here are some popular online bartending classes, along with their pros and cons:

BarSmarts (best overall)

Created by liquor enterprise Pernod Ricard, BarSmarts is a high-end training hub for exploring the history of cocktails, best practices, and mixology. It’s suitable for both novices and professionals. The course covers spirits, classic cocktails, cocktail history, and service management. It concludes with the DrinkBuilder exam, where bartenders must make four classic cocktails.

Pros:

  • BarSmarts is recognized for its comprehensive curriculum that covers everything from the basics to advanced bartending techniques.
  • Developed by Pernod Ricard USA and led by renowned experts in the industry.

Cons:

  • Although the program is comprehensive, it may be overwhelming for beginners.
  • There is a fee for the course, which might be a hurdle for some individuals.

Masterclass With Lynnette Marrero & Ryan Chetiyawardana (expert instruction)

This 17-session class is part of the Masterclass platform taught by Lynnette Marrero and Ryan Chetiyawardana, two top mixologists worldwide. The class includes topics such as practical tips for cocktail making, industry insights, and personal experiences from the instructors. However, it doesn’t include a certificate or an exam upon completion. The class is only available with a Masterclass monthly subscription.

Pros:

  • This Masterclass provides the opportunity to learn directly from world-class bartending professionals Lynnette Marrero and Ryan Chetiyawardana.
  • The course covers many topics, including the philosophy of drinks, the art of balance, and more.

Cons:

  • Masterclass courses are relatively expensive compared to other online options.
  • It might not be as practical-oriented as some other courses.

Udemy Bartending (best for beginners)

Udemy Bartending offers a wide range of bartending and spirits courses among its over 150,000 courses. This platform provides free and paid modules, with certification only available for paid modules. Course fees can quickly add up, and tools and materials are not included in the course fee. The bartending courses on Udemy are aimed at beginners and home bartenders looking to expand their skills.

Courses are led by industry professionals like Paul Martin and Carlos Batista and cover topics from home bartending and gin appreciation to managing bars and the chemistry of alcoholic beverages. Despite offering free courses, these do not provide a certificate or access to an instructor like the paid options.

Pros:

  • Udemy offers a variety of bartending courses, allowing you to select one that best fits your needs and interests.
  • These courses are often affordable, making them accessible for many.

Cons:

  • The quality of courses on Udemy can vary greatly as different instructors create them.
  • Some courses may lack in-depth content and hands-on training.

Ananas (best in-depth)

Ananas is a comprehensive platform that offers both employers and employees in the hospitality industry knowledge and training, focusing on bartending. The platform provides courses on individual spirits, customer service, and best bar practices. It features job search capabilities and thousands of informational videos, but its content is currently only available in English.

The courses are divided into two levels: Basics and Intermediate. The Basics course covers wine, beer, cocktails, bar, and customer service. In contrast, the Intermediate course offers focused modules on specific areas of interest, such as the history of gin or wine appreciation. The platform also offers certification programs and unique video content like how to balance plates on one arm.

Pros:

  • Ananas offers an interactive learning experience with video tutorials, quizzes, and a completion certificate.
  • It also focuses on the business side of bartending, such as improving sales and customer service.

Cons:

  • While Ananas offers a well-rounded course, it might lack the depth of specialized bartending courses.
  • The interface may not be as user-friendly as other online platforms.

A Bar Above Mixology (for working bartenders)

This course is designed for professional bartenders and aims to take their skills to the next level. The course focuses on cocktail design and techniques. The cost is $147, which includes lifetime access to the content. A unique aspect of this course is the virtual community and mentorship opportunities it provides through the online platform and chat boards.

Pros:

  • A Bar Above offers a Mixology Certification program focusing on cocktail creation, from understanding flavours to presentation techniques.
  • The course is self-paced, allowing you to learn at your own comfort.

Cons:

  • The course may not cover all aspects of bartending, such as customer service and handling difficult situations.
  • There may be fewer opportunities for practical training and feedback.

Diageo Bar Academy (best budget)

Created by Diageo, one of the world’s largest spirits companies, this academy offers comprehensive training programs and a large community of bartenders and brand fans. The academy offers modules on high-skill techniques, service skills, product knowledge, business operations, and wellness in the industry and non-alcoholic drinks. While some of its resources are free, others may come at a cost​.

Pros:

  • Diageo Bar Academy, powered by one of the world’s largest spirits companies, provides a wide range of free online courses.
  • The courses cover everything from product knowledge to the latest industry trends.

Cons:

  • Some users might find the course content too brand-specific.
  • The practical, hands-on aspect might be lacking in these online courses.

Best-Known American Bartending Schools

We’ve gathered information about top institutions across various states to comprehensively list the best-known American bartending schools. These schools have been recognized for their quality education, hands-on training, and successful graduate outcomes.

  • ABC Bartending School – With branches nationwide, including Miami, New York, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, this school is among the USA’s most reputable and popular bartending schools. Founded in 1977, ABC Bartending School has been known for training and providing excellent bartenders, teaching students a deeper understanding of liquor and how to mix classic cocktails.
  • New York Bartending School – This school offers top-notch alcohol training refresher courses and is one of the few schools offering advanced mixology classes in the United States. Graduates of the New York Bartending School are employed in some of the top restaurants in New York and the United States, with major liquor companies like Absolut being partners of the school.
  • Columbia Bartending School – Founded in 1965, this high-rated bartending school teaches students the art of mixology using real Alcohol. During each session, students are allowed to practice and receive feedback from the instructors. The school offers discounts for groups, military personnel, and last semester seniors.
  • ACE Bartending Academy – Known as the most popular bartending school in Las Vegas, ACE Bartending Academy was founded in 2007. It provided excellent bartending education and hands-on training to its students. The school also offers bartending career guidance on interviews and soft skills, such as the safety rules for handling a bar in compliance with health codes.
  • Orlando Bartending Academy – This academy equips students with the skills and knowledge to mix drinks and the etiquette necessary to work as a bartender. It also offers casual classes for drink aficionados and others.
  • Pacific Bartending School – This school is one of the most popular and most-sought after bartending schools in Los Angeles, California. Graduates from the Pacific Bartending School work in the country’s top restaurants, bars, and hotels, such as The Four Seasons, Skyy Vodka, etc.
  • National Bartenders School – This school teaches aspiring bartenders intensively, from the basics. The coursework is designed to prepare students to be skilled and prepared to take up a bartending job confidentially.
  • Crescent City Bartending School – Based in New Orleans, LA, this school offers a bartending degree program. In 2020, 51 Bartending students graduated, all earning certificates.
  • Central New Mexico Community College – Located in Albuquerque, NM, offers a bartending degree program. In 2020, 3 Bartending students graduated, each earning a certificate.
  • NUC University – Based in Bayamon, PR, this university offers a bartending degree program. In 2020, 178 Bartending students graduated, each earning a certificate.

Bartending Schools and Cocktail Classes By City

If you’re looking for a bartending school, mixology or cocktail class in your city, we’ve written guides for each of these cities below:

American cities:

International:

Life after Bartending School

Job Placement and Career Opportunities

Graduating from a professional bartending school opens up many career opportunities in the food and beverage industry. The possibilities are abundant, from working in high-end restaurants and hotels to serving at private events or on cruise ships.

The Impact of Bartending Skills on Personal Development

Beyond the bar, the skills learned at a bartending school can profoundly impact your personal development and interpersonal relationships. These skills include multitasking, communication, patience, and creativity, to name a few.

The Journey Ahead: A Wrap-Up

Embarking on a journey to becoming a bartender through a professional bartending school can be an exciting and fulfilling career choice. Whether you’re passionate about mixology or looking for a dynamic job, the world of professional bartending awaits you.

Professional Branding Schools FAQ

How long does a bartending course usually take?

Typically, a bartending course can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete. It depends on the program’s depth and whether you’re attending full-time or part-time.

Do bartending schools help with job placement?

Many bartending schools do offer job placement assistance. This can include helping students create resumes, providing leads on job openings, and even arranging interviews with local bars and restaurants.

Can I learn bartending online?

Yes, there are many online bartending courses available. These courses offer flexibility and convenience, allowing you to learn quickly.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Taking a Bartending Class Online vs. in Person?

Online bartending classes offer convenience and flexibility, ideal for those who prefer to learn from home. In contrast, in-person courses can potentially deliver a more tactile learning experience. Consider these factors when deciding which option suits you best.

What do most bartenders make an hour?

The hourly wage of bartenders can vary widely depending on the location and type of establishment. According to job website Indeed.com, the median hourly wage for bartenders in America was about $15.82 in 2023. However, this does not include tips, which can significantly increase a bartender’s earnings—websites like Indeed.com and Iintuit.com can give you salary averages for your city.

What state has the highest-paid bartenders?

As of 2023, the states with the highest earnings for bartenders are Massachusetts ($64k), New Hampshire ($56k), and Hawaii, with a few earning a whopping $77,500.

If you’re interested, we have guides to working in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Hawaii here.

How do I become a mixologist?

Becoming a mixologist often requires more training and experience than becoming a bartender. It involves understanding how to mix drinks and having a deep knowledge of the flavours and chemistry of different beverages. You can become a mixologist by starting as a bartender and gradually gaining more knowledge and skills, often through additional courses or training programs.

Can you make a living bartending?

Yes, many people make a living bartending. While the base salary may not be high, bartenders often earn a significant portion of their income from tips. Additionally, bartenders who work in high-end bars or restaurants can make a very comfortable living.

What’s the difference between a bartender and a mixologist?

While both bartenders and mixologists work with alcohol and create drinks, a mixologist typically has a deeper understanding of the ingredients and techniques used in cocktail creation. Mixologists often create their own original cocktail recipes and may focus more on the craft and presentation of the drink.

Do you need a license to be a bartender?

In some states, you need to have a permit or license to serve alcohol, which includes working as a bartender. The requirements for these permits or licenses vary by state.

We have listed requirements for the US States, Canadian Provinces, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Do bartenders make good money?

Bartenders can make good money, especially when tips are taken into account. However, the amount a bartender earns can vary widely depending on the location, the type of establishment, and the individual’s skill and experience.

How much do bartending schools cost?

The cost of bartending schools can vary widely, from around $200 to over $1000. The price usually depends on the length and depth of the course, as well as the school’s reputation.