The Bartending School of Ontario

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: January 20, 2024
  • Time to read: 2 min.

Located on the bustling Danforth in Toronto, the Bartending School of Ontario recently racked up forty successful years in the business of teaching its clients how to tend bar.

Founded in 1974 by Victor J. Miller, himself a hugely experienced hospitality industry veteran, the Bartending School of Ontario’s (BSO) remit from the outset was to provide rigorous preparation to fledgling bartenders who were, at that time, costing pubs, bars and clubs money due to the on-the-job training required. The school gathers future bar staff and equips them with the skills, abilities and accreditation before they head out for the lively and frequently busy shifts spent ‘behind the wood’ serving customers.

Hands-on and positive in their approach, the school’s teaching staff are licensed bartending instructors with massive experience and a broad knowledge of the industry, with everything from the skills required for working a fine dining service to the art of cocktail ‘mixology’ as part of their teaching arsenal. The school offers various courses and workshops and is accredited with Canadian career colleges and universities. Its Bartending Certificate (License) Course is a comprehensive and immersive series of classes taken over either one, two or four weeks, where students learn in a mock-bar classroom environment, covering a huge range of topics – from stock and inventory control to multiple cocktail making, beer drafting and draft equipment, and liquor cost control – with a final certificate awarded which has international accreditation and is recognised across the world. Other courses include Smart Serve certification, the Wine Council of Ontario Certificate of Merit program, and a fun ‘introduction to bartending’ program designed to educate and entertain. The BSO also hosts several mini-workshops, such as Martini Madness & Shooter Insanity, and Mystery Box Bartending where teams of students are given a selection of mystery ingredients and have two hours to create a luxury cocktail.

Along with the courses, the school sells everything a budding bartender would ever need, from a 12 piece professional bartending kit – which includes pour spouts, a double-hinged wine opener and mixing bowl – to vinyl Boston Shakers, and the Smart Serve instructional video and documentation for accreditation which is required for staff and managers by all bars and establishments in Ontario that sell liquor.

The Bartending School of Ontario has won multiple awards, and has been the Toronto Sun Readers’ Choice for seven years in a row, while its staff have trained a host of star names on television and film sets, and have worked with such luminaries as Tom Cruise, Bette Midler, Colin Farrell and Mike Myers. Its full Bartending Certificate (License) Course is now offered at $275 and includes a Bartenders’ Manual, while Smart Serve certification costs $55, the Wine Council of Ontario Certificate of Merit program is $50, and a full day’s ‘Introduction to Bartending’ is available for $125.