In case you’re as dim as a 10-watt bulb, you are quite alert to the fact that I am anti-bartending school. I’ve been bartending and bar managing for 15 years now and I can’t quite describe my level of agitation when I see all the articles on the Internet that advise people to sign up for them. I kid you not, it peeves me beyond belief. It’s like going to grocery clerk school so you can get a job at Safeway. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s not that far from the truth. They memorize a boatload of fruit and vegetable codes, work in a computer system, deal with customers and they have to be fast or the line backs up. So why aren’t there schools for them? (Hmmm…new idea alert…)
The reason is because being a bartender is a coveted and sought after position and schools were created by those who saw a chance to earn a buck. Nothing wrong with that. These are not evil people I’m talking about. They really do show you how to pour liquid into a shot glass and muddle limes and mint, but you can do that at home. All that’s going to happen is you will lose your money and get your hopes up. There are better ways. Let me tell you why bartending schools don’t work:
1. For $500-$1,000 they teach you what you can learn from a book for $9.99.It’s like going to summer camp and learning basket weaving: it might be fun, but it won’t help you make money.
2. Most bartending schools don’t use real products or make real drinks. That’s right, they use foam fruit for garnishes and colored water to practice pouring. The problem with this is one of the best teaching tools to have students learn how to make great drinks is to have bartenders taste their own creations to see if they came out right. The point is to learn how to craft a great cocktail. Good luck learning how to make lemon twists or what a cosmo tastes like with fake products.
3. They don’t always teach proper technique or provide correct knowledge. I witnessed a trainer show the bartending students how to shake the hell out of a Manhattan. Contrary to popular belief, not all cocktails are made the James Bond way. Manhattans andother classic cocktails with no mixers should be stirred.
4. They teach outdated techniques and recipes. Enough said.
5. Most do not properly teach (or teach at all) how to use a POS system, which most bars use these days to ring up drinks and food.
6. They give you the impression that the “license” or “training certificate” they give you at the end of the course has some sort of validity or influence in the bartending world. It doesn’t. Give me $1,000 and I’ll happily print you a participation certificate that says you completed my course.
7. They are considered a joke among bartenders, managers and owners. This alone should keep you away. The second a manager sees “Bartending School” on your resume, he will start giggling like a small girl before he crumples it up and plays garbage can basketball with it.
8. Bartending schools can’t (and won’t) get you a job. I laugh every time I see a school offer “Job Placement Assistance”. Their idea of job placement assistance is to hand you your meaningless certificate, guide you towards the door and tell you to turn in your resume to bars in the area. Gee, thanks. What a revolutionary idea for getting a job. Glad I paid you $1,000 for that bit of advice.
Cheers, until next time.