And you’re considering Bartending School, right? Before you fork over a couple hundred dollars for a Bartending License, here are a few things to consider first.
- Class Setup
- Job Placement
- AlternativesThere are always alternatives. Bartending School isn’t the only way to become a bartender. You can practice making drinks for your friends or memorizing recipes. Some bar owners may ask you to work for a few hours as part of the interviewing processes, and as long as you know enough to satisfy each customer, you have a good chance at the job.You can also work as a barkeep for a while. A barkeep is an assistant to the bartender. This is the person who fills up the house liquor bottles, cleans the glasses, and all that other grunt work. For some prestigious establishments, this is a good way to climb the ladder if you have no bartending experience. You can watch and learn from the bartender, and maybe even assist in a few drinks if things get busy.
The next best thing to being a barkeep is to work in a small restaurant that has a bar, under any position. Whether it is as a busboy or waitress, a small restaurant may give you the chance to pitch in and help in all areas.
Before you choose a school, talk to their instructors. Find out what their teaching style is and whether or not it fits with the way you learn. See if the instructor is a nice, patient person who is willing to explain why things are and not just how things are. Understanding why things are done can help to remember how things are done.
Since a large part of being a bartender is memorization, some instructors will provide you with memory shortcuts. For example, after you have an orgasm, you take a kab back home. To make an Orgasm, you mix Kahlua, Amarreto, and Bailey’s together. (Note: drink recipes can often differ from bar to bar and school to school.) These shortcuts can really help.
The other part of being a bartender is etiquette. Find out if the instructor gives you any behavioral tips. These are things you could learn on your own, but it doesn’t hurt to have an instructor reinforce the ideas in your head. Bartending etiquette depends largely on the establishment at which you work, of course. But there are a few basic rules that all bartenders should know. Included in here are the laws bartenders must know.
The way the classroom is set up is very important. Some schools will give you your own station (complete with sinks, cups, bottles in front of you, and bottles in back of you) to work from for the entire duration of the class. Others will make you share a station. Having your own station is a lot more useful.
Related to this is the size of the class. If they have a small class, you can expect more personal instruction, which can be better tailored to your learning style. A small class can also mean your own station.
Some schools even provide handbooks. These can be very handy if you take the time to jot notes in them, especially memorization notes. Sometimes they’ll ask you to create index cards for yourself as well. If they don’t, make them. You can use them to quiz yourself later.
The frequency of classes is also a factor, though this depends on your preferred learning style. Some have all of the classes back-to-back. Others provide one class a week to allow more time to digest what you’ve learned.
Lastly, the classes have to fit in your schedule (especially if you already have a job). So the time of the classes is important as well.
For some people, this is the most important part of a good bartending school. Some schools have extensive contacts in some of the most prestigious and highest paying bars, hotels, and restaurants in the area. These places may not hire accept novice bartenders off the street, but coming from a good school will give you special consideration.
Another side benefit is the network you could build in a school. If you get along with your instructor and fellow students well, you never know when that kindness could come back and pay you a visit. It’s a small world out there.
The price of a bartending class can vary. I’ve heard of some going for under a hundred dollars to well over four hundred dollars. Like most other things in life, you get what you pay for. But the most expensive class doesn’t necessarily translate to a better education. A school would be well worth your money if it hits on all of the points above.
Good luck bartending!
Do you want to be a bartender?