Metropolitan Bartending School – Calgary

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: January 20, 2024
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Promising to turn you from zero to drink-pouring hero in just twenty-four hours of class time, the Metropolitan Bartending School is a one-stop shop for aspiring bartenders and people wishing to get ahead in the hospitality industry.

When restaurateur Matt Thompson saw a distinct lack of quality staff available to work in his numerous establishments, he decided to do the job of training them himself – and so, in 1995, the Metropolitan Bartending School (MBS) was established. From its initial location in Vancouver, the company expanded into Calgary with a state of the art facility in the city’s Beltline region, just a couple of blocks from the Bow River. With twenty years under its belt the company has seen more than ten thousand students graduate from its training program, is credited with raising the standard of service in bars, clubs and restaurants in Calgary, Vancouver and across Canada, and describes itself as the quality benchmark which all other bartending schools aspire to reach.

The Calgary branch of the MBS is run by Ryan Boyd and Ian Arcega, both widely experienced hospitality industry veterans with decades of time working ‘behind the wood’ in Canada and around the world. Training with the duo has an emphasis on fun, immersive and interactive lessons, where the majority of students’ time – up to eighty percent of the course – is spent behind the bar. The school prides itself on its equipment, training time and unmatched facility, and the fact that classes are deliberately kept small in order for each student to have their own workstation where the art of bartending can be practised without other students hovering nearby and waiting to take their turn. From your first day on the main program you will be introduced to bartending basics and make one drink at a time, but by the end the MBS will have you taking multiple orders, upselling to premium brands, operating the computer system, printing bills, taking cash, giving change, and providing excellent customer service to maximize tips – all in under three minutes.

he Calgary school offers five separate courses, with its main program a comprehensive, twenty-four hour Bartender Certification. For $599 (although there are frequent discounts and special offers where the cost drops to around $350) students are taught over two to four weeks on weekdays, weeknights or weekends – the choice is yours – and upon graduation will be equipped to deal with even the most frantic shift in the city’s busiest bar. Nothing is left to chance, with a broad set of topics and classes covering everything from pouring methods (both traditional and modern), speed and accuracy techniques, live Point of Sale system training – MBS is the only school in Calgary to do this – working with draft beer, handling crowds and multiple drink orders, and studying over one hundred cocktail and shooter recipes. Further training is provided on customer service, provincial liquor regulations, résumé writing and more, making it a totally immersive course. The MBS also guarantees that students who don’t complete the course, or who wish to return to brush up on new bartending skills can do so for free, any time, and at any point in the future.

Three short one day seminars are also available, all costing $125 (although the price drops to $75 if any of them are combined with the Bartender Certification). The first is a Wine Tasting Seminar where you can increase your confidence around the subject of wine via a three hour class which covers wine regions, flavour profiles, aroma and, of course, tasting, while the Flair Bartending Seminar will turn you into a true entertainer behind the bar, with tricks, bottle flips and garnish magic designed to impress your customers. Finally the Bar Chef Seminar will get you creating exciting cocktails and mixing drinks with style.

ProServe Certification, which is mandatory in Alberta for anyone working with or around alcohol, is also provided by the school, and full training and certification costs just $30 when added to the Bartender Certification. Meanwhile, an all-you-can-learn package is also available in the school’s Master’s Program, which includes all of the aforementioned training courses – including ProServe – bundled together for $577, and which will equip you with all the skills and abilities to ease straight into your first job behind the bar.

As well as training, the Metropolitan Bartending School provides ongoing support in the form of one on one job coaching, interview prep, and a free online ‘Job Center’ – strictly for graduates only – where the cream of Canada’s bartending and hospitality jobs are posted regularly on its database.