View Full Version : Bartending School--Anyone done it?

Feb. 24, 2013, 08:54 PM
Sounds strange but I'm looking into maybe bartending school. Not too happy with my current job, so looking at this in the meantime. Here's the catch, I don't drink alcohol--would this be a setback or stupid idea?

Feb. 24, 2013, 09:06 PM
Well, it's a waste of money in my opinion.

Back in the day I bartended and we learned by being barbacks and cocktailers, working up to bartend. I never would hire anyone who cited "bartending school" because the job is about customer service, time and staff management/direction, and restaurant knowledge. It's not about knowing what may or not go into 300 drinks (which by the way changes annually depending on trends although the classics remain.).

Also, if you have boobs two sizes too big and pants two sizes too small, you can get a job at the regular/dive places pretty easy even without experience, most of them are whiskey cokes anyway.

Decent and corporate places will want customer service and restaurant experience. You can get this without paying money for it :)

Feb. 24, 2013, 09:31 PM
Depends on what you want and what they offer. I took one that was something like four weekends, and included the ServeSafe alcohol exam. It was less about learning all the drinks (you just can't; they covered basics and classics) than learning how to measure-pour, how to use bar equipment, and names and relative quality of a lot of the liquors. (Also the valuable lesson of "If anyone offers you a dirty water shot, for the love of all things decent, don't drink it.")

You still may not get hired (right now, you need actual bartending experience or an employer who doesn't know what he's doing), you probably will NOT learn flare style (unless that's specifically what they're teaching). I would pay more than a few hundred for a course and wouldn't take one that focused on learning 1,001 current trendy cocktails. A lot of bartending is about not only knowing how to mix things, but knowing the product and how to serve a customer, the mechanics (how to set up the glass, how to present it) and the other aspects (dealing with problem customers, sorting who to serve first, dealing with servers...)

Not drinking at all might be an issue. I don't drink much, I don't do mixed drinks (outside very basic things like a Tom Collins or a G&T) but I have tasted most of the 'important' liquors (vodka, gin, rum, tequila, whiskeys) and I have some idea what they do when you blend them with various mixers. It would be a little like cooking when you don't taste the food-if you don't know what it tastes like, it's hard to work with.

I would NOT view it as a get-gainfully-employed-quick scheme, any more than cooking is. You have to be in the right market with the right skills to make a LOT of money at it. Bartending school is like culinary school, it helps you skip the ROCK bottom (being scut labor) but it doesn't get you the high-paying jobs right away.

Feb. 24, 2013, 10:51 PM
Ditto above. It is fun to learn all about mixing, glassware, etc, but it won't help you get a job as a BT. You need to pay dues as waitstaff, barback, etc.

Two of is went to a BT school in college & then hired ourselves out to man the bar at semiformal frat parties. Unless that is your plan (the thought of it now makes me cringe), better to save your $.