We must now begin to realize that bartending is a serious profession, thanks to all all the fashionable, up-to-date cocktail lounges being established. And behind the bar is no place for amateurs. Real skill takes time, and one of the best places to spend that time honing your skills is at a bartending school.
The Bartending Profession is a part of life
These are the places where most of society meets to pass away a few pleasant hours in an atmosphere of culture and refinement. The outmoded saloonkeeper has no place today, nor do they belong with contemporary customs. Today, we have the well-dressed person who has a complete understanding of their responsibilities in working with the public and the knowledge of blending the many fancy cocktails they will be asked to make and dispensing them in an intelligent manner.
The proper School of Bartending will teach its students in such a way that each will have a thorough, expert knowledge of all the facts pertaining to every type of liquor, liqueur, cordials, wine, honesty, and sobriety. Students will learn the value of the different combinations that will produce a high class cocktail, and above all, they will learn the correct and proper manner to serve these fancy drinks so as to please the most critical patron.
The bartender is a person placed in a responsible position by their employer and they should have the welfare of the business at heart. They are in a position of trust and can either make or break the person or company paying them their weekly salary. It is not an easy position to fill, but it is a very important one.
Why skilled bartenders are important to the establishment
The owner, bartenders, waiters and waitresses are the people who build a friendly atmosphere in any establishment. Knowing how to build a fancy drink and serving it is just a part of your duties. Knowing how to perform always with a friendly smile and a pleasing personality with customers and fellow employees will be your main responsibility.
A customer will usually patronize an establishment to meet their friends for an enjoyable evening or to visit with their favorite bartender. Many times during your workday you will hear customer's problems and discussions of their day-to-day activities. People will be watching you at all times, seeing how you perform in your duties. One of the determining factors that bring customers back is the pleasing personality of the bartender.
Many of the schools turn out crappy bartenders, so before you decide to plop down a few hundred or even thousands of dollars, do you research and see about their course curriculum, instructor history, reputation and job placement rate.
Don't judge the school by its exterior or slickness either, sometimes the seedy looking schools have real legends of bartending owning them and teaching them and are worth a look.
We'd also suggest the following:
- BarmanGuide would recommend that you set up a time to go and see the school and meet the instructor. Ask the instructor about their working knowledge in the industry. Where have they worked?
- There is a lot of false information on websites. A website should clearly state the course outline, class hours, start dates, price, information about the school and how long the school has been in business, professional knowledge of the instructor, and basic policies of the school.
- Ask to see the course material. Does the school have a proper training manual or do they give you sheets with a bunch of drinks on them to learn?
- What is the policy on refresher courses and what is the policy if you fail the course?
- Does every class start at the same time? Some schools have new students starting every week. Everyone is at a different level so a proper flow of instruction is impossible. They are trying to cram as many students as they can into the school but the students lose in the long run.
- Does the instructor actually talk about how to find jobs, what to put on a resume, give you leads about jobs or what to expect during a job interview?
- Will the school let you come in and watch a class already in session? If they won't then what are they worried about?
- If they don't have a payment plan then they are probably worried about dropouts not completing the course and not paying for the full course. If you leave a bartending school without the proper training in the most popular drinks, common blender drinks, martinis and shooters, after dinner drinks and wine and beer service, you may never get through a job interview and will have wasted your money. As in most professions, it pays to be educated.
- Photos:, top: Practice Margharitas by Adrena, bottom: Crescent Schools of Casino Dealing and Bartending in New Orleans by Kevin O'Mara