In my opinion bartending schools are a no, paying a lot of money for getting the basics is not something you should do.
Instead of paying money for someone to train 10- 20 people and couldn’t offer you specific attention, try finding a job where the bartender can train you one on one.
Bartending courses/schools can be useful but they will not replace experience
Of course there are exceptions, you can go and train in flaring, meet new people, create new connections and sometimes win contests that the schools are putting out.
Use free tools to learn about the basics of this job. First you should check our free course for beginners right here. You can also check YouTube, Udemy has some free bartending courses, you can follow bartenders on TikTok, you can Google “how to be a bartender” and I am sure you will find something!
Again, all this information might overwhelm you in the beginning that is why I am saying practice will help you more. Even if you just make some of the basic drinks at home.
We got you covered there as well. We put together a list of recipes that a bartender should know and you can see it here.
Pros of bartending schools:
- Networking space filled with people that have the same goals, hobbies, vision that you do
- If you are a lazy person that doesn’t want to do research on their own, bartending schools have a curriculum and they will go through all the steps that you need to know to start being a bartender
- Job hunting support
- Gets you a certification
Cons of bartending schools
- Cost time
- Cost money, usually a lot of money
- For a lot of locations and managers their certifications are irrelevant
- It’s not required, you don’t have to do it and because it is something optional, a lot of employers thing the same
- Experience is more relevant
Instead of paying 400$ to 800$ to be in a group and not being able to have one-on-one training, if you really want to follow this path in your life, look for free courses, find a willing bartender to teach you and work together with.
Yes it might be difficult, and a lot of locations will say you don’t have experience so they can’t hire you and in that moment you should tell them in their face that you will not get any experience if they will not give you a chance. It will be hard and frustrating at first.
2 thoughts on “About bartending schools- yes or no?”
I’ve been bartending for almost 20 years. I got my start at barely legal, and no formal training. Luckily it was a dive bar and the most complicated cocktail I made was an Alabama Slammer. After graduating from college with a brand-new journalism degree that immediately felt dated and worthless in an emerging new virtual world of blogs and MySpace, I chose to continue slinging drinks- and I wanted to work in fine dining. So, even though I already had several years of Bartending experience under my belt, I felt I needed to take the next step and go to bartender school. It was an excellent career move. Not only was I able to assist the instructor during class, as I had the bar basics down pat already, but now I had a method for the mayhem, if you will, with a focus on mixology that really got me excited to pursue my cocktail-creating career ambitions.
I moved to Maui soon after bartending school and this tiny space filler on my resume helped set me above and apart from all the other “beertenders”. Sixteen years later, I’m still very much in the game. As of recent I have been approached by aspiring bartenders to “shadow” me while I’m working. This apprenticeship is beneficial for both parties: Me, as I have someone to set up my bar the way I like it, and for the student, as they gain valuable hands-on experience (especially in a dive bar setting!).
Bartending school is like college.. it is what you make of it. There’s no such thing as too much education, even though experience is the best teacher of all; I wouldn’t even think of a potential apprentice joining me who didn’t have a clue about how front-of-house works. I even began writing a bartender manual, with real solid information in it, the real nuts-and-bolts info that bartending school doesn’t teach (how to deal with jukebox nazis, liquor commissioners, patrons who pregame in the parking lot, etc).
Bartending school can be a necessary evil. Just depends on what is being taught. Any bar-trained monkey can pour ordered drinks on demand all night. But a bar-trained wizard is what the patrons come to see (haha).
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A bartender school can be really useful, in my opinion it really depends on where you live. In Europe, for example, bars, restaurants, cafes and so on don’t really look for that, they want to see experience.
Happy to hear that you had a good exercise? Which school course did you take?