Nothing can beat on the job training when it comes to bartending. The majority of professional bartenders have worked their way up the bar hierarchy, through years as bar backs, servers, and bussers. However, if you're looking for a course that helps you break into the profession or have been mixing professionally for awhile and want to step up your game or hone a few skills, there are a number of options available.
The advantage of attending a training class or seminar in person is that you get a real feel for what it takes to tend bar, understand where things are located and get hands-on practice making drinks. Some courses will only enroll bartenders with verifiable experience and some are tailored for beginners.
These courses are recommendations and I do not endorse any one of them. Before you enroll in any bartending course, do your research. There are many schools out there that are not reputable, may not cover what you're looking for or may just be looking for a quick buck. Be especially wary of online bartending schools and courses, many are not as valuable as they make themselves sound.
Bartender Training Programs
- Flairco Bartending Arts and Sciences Training Program
Specialize in flair bartending courses for established, working professionals. Courses are taught by Dean Serneels at various locations.
- Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR) Program
Among other programs, BAR holds five-day, intense training courses twice a year in New York City with one of the founding bartenders (Dale DeGroff, Doug Frost, Steven Olson, F. Paul Pacult, and David Wondrich) to lead the way. Check the Cocktail Calendar of Events for scheduled sessions.
The BAR team has developed 2 other training programs for serious bartenders. Both have the same curriculum and are an in-depth study of history and techniques of spirits and mixology. These courses are four weeks long, with the Advanced Live ending with a live seminar and test and the Wired being completely online ending with a virtual bartender test.
- New York Bartending School
Advanced and intermediate courses with a flexible schedule for anyone in the hospitality industry and a free trial seminar for those who are interested but not entirely sure if they want to make bartending a profession.
- Mix 'Em Up Bartending School
New Jersey bartending school with 40-hour training courses that includes everything you need to know to go pro.
- Professional Bartending Schools of America
Locations throughout the United States offering 40-hour courses in professional mixology.
- National Bartenders School
Forty hour training course for aspiring bartenders. Classes are held at various locations in the United States.
- New England Bartending Schools
Training in Boston, Andover and Worcester, Massachusetts with a 2-day seminar in Burlington, Vermont. Teaches all the basic bartending skills needed and allows unlimited practice time and a free trial class.
- American Professional Bartending Schools of Illinois
Five schools in Illinois that offer a full bartending curriculum with other locations in New York City, New Jersey, and California.
- San Francisco School of Bartending
Offers a 35-hour training course for aspiring bartenders in San Francisco with a free introductory class.
- ABC Bartending School
Bartender training courses at locations across the United States. The 40-hour course has been training bartenders for 30 years.
- Fine Art Bartending
Eight-day bartending training program in various locations throughout Canada. Also, a 4-hour class in flair bartending basics.
- Pacific Bartending School
A ten class course in Torrance, California taught by experienced bartenders. Free introductory classes, job leads and placement assistance available.
In the meantime, you may also find these resources helpful:
- Tips from a Seasoned Cocktail Mixologist
- Popular Drinks Every Bartender Should Know
- Add the Perfect Rim to Your Cocktails
- Best Bartending Guides
- Miss Charming's Bartender Lounge