So secure are the owners of the New York Bartending School in the knowledge their company is the best in the state – if not the entire US – that they provide free two-hour trial classes and actively encourage budding bar keeps and servers to check out as many other bartending schools as they can – knowing people will still come back to them.
If you want to become a bartender in New York, we’ve written a guide here.
Such is its cachet in an increasingly crowded market – Shecky’s annual Bar, Club and Lounge Guide rate it as the best school in the city – the New York Bartending School (NYBS) attracts thousands of students each year, and successfully transforms them into high end, professional staff ready to enter the hospitality industry in the Big Apple and beyond. It is now a prestigious, world-renowned establishment, is the largest school of its kind to be found anywhere across the globe, and the only school to be licensed & registered with the New York State Education Department. It has become such a success that it opened a branch in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and plans to expand further with a third school in New York State’s Garden City.
Operating out of its home on Manhattan’s 68 West 39th Street for the last fifteen years, NYBS’s owner can count three decades in the trade, taking in successful stints as a bartender, sommelier, owner, consultant and even author, while its professional instruction staff boast years of knowledge and experience amongst them, meaning tuition is thorough, hands-on and immersive. The school’s premises and curriculum are no less impressive, with three ultra-modern mock bar classrooms containing plenty of equipment, drinks, and numerous soda gun-laden workstations – meaning every student gets plenty of ‘bar time’ – and a wide-ranging industry-level training package for its main program.
That program is the Bartender Certification Course, which comes in at $695 for forty hours of entertaining – a lot of emphases is placed on having fun and making friends – and informative tuition. Students can choose from various schedules to attend classes, including one and two-week courses or intensive weekend sessions; classes are held over full eight-hour days on the one-week course or four-and-a-half hour daily stints on the two-week programs, either during the morning, afternoon or evening. The school will gladly work around you the student, though – tailored training schedules are readily available, and students can mix classes for as long as they want until graduation for no extra cost.
Topics covered on the Bartender program are many and varied and provide a modern, professional grounding in the art of tending bar. Students will learn about opening/closing/sales procedures, computerized POS (Point of Sale) touchscreen skills, garnish prep, ‘free pouring’, numerous drink recipes, speed drills to maximize serving time, as well as wine, spirit, and beer knowledge and service, up-selling, cocktail mixology and familiarisation with all the equipment and techniques you will use. Also covered are important modules on customer service, alcohol awareness and seminars on liquor laws, state regulations and your legal responsibilities as a bar keep or server. After the program, all students must undertake a final examination – this consists of a written test and a nerve-jangling speed test, where you must concoct a minimum of twenty professional-level drinks in less than six minutes, which is the highest (and most difficult) standard of any bartending school in both New York and Florida. Succeed, and you walk away with New York Bartending School certification, adding considerable clout to your résumé.
NYBS offers a handful of other programs, including the Bartender Cocktail Course, which is sixteen hours of tuition for $395 and described as a ‘bartending boot camp’ run over a fun but busy weekend; students undergo a compact version of the forty-hour course, learn all of the drinks and mixes, and leave with considerable knowledge of how the bar trade works. The school has plans to add a twenty-hour Advanced Spirit and Mixology Course to their curriculum, which promises to take Bartender Certificate graduates and working bartenders to the next level in terms of mixing skills and service. Meanwhile, for those people interested in training as a bartender but not completely sure if they want to register or if the NYBS is the right school for them, the school holds a free ‘Trial Class’ each Tuesday at 6pm which runs for approximately two hours and shows the basics of tending bar, allows prospective students to meet the staff, see the facilities and even share a few drinks.
The New York Bartending School runs open ‘Vodka Tasting Nights’ for the Big Apple’s bar crowd and its budding bartenders, offers a ‘Hire a Bartender’ service, and even runs classes in Spanish in order to serve the city’s Hispanic community. As well as these, its big draw is its Job Placement/Work Experience scheme – the school is incredibly well-connected to New York’s hospitality industry and works with many bar and club managers, catering and event companies and liquor/wine businesses, and is affiliated with the Professional Bartending Schools of America organization, meaning graduates find employment quickly. Even students who are still training can gain invaluable work experience in New York’s nightclubs and bars.
68 WEST 39TH ST., NEW YORK CITY