bartending school--worth it?

dunno if this is the best forum but…

i’m considering going to bartending school, or at least classes, to suppliment my income, possibly.

are they worth it, or should i just sit down with a bartending book?

I can’t say it isn’t worth it, but from what I can tell the schools teach you undesirable tendancies such as measuring the drinks. A bar patron will get really pissed if you pour the booze into a measure before putting it in the drink.

I, for one, want to be able to juggle bottles while pouring whisky for a clown named Sherman.


I used to sling drinks in bars and clubs throughout years of college and grad school to pay the registrar, and reduce my main out-of-pocket expense - rum. Seriously, my thought is it wouldn’t be helpful (although I never went) with one exception: since you’re thinking about “supplementing” income, one guesses you’re thinking part-time, such as a catering service. They do take from academies, and I suppose chain restaurants with liquor licences do too, and tend to have inside tracks on employment. It’s not so much that you need to be taught how to make a 7&7, but the hiring afterwards.

No bar or club I ever worked at, however, hired on the basis of bartending school, but that is hardly ever part-time, even if it starts out that way, and might not fit your plan…

My college offered a three-night bartending course. About the only reason to take it was that you were then eligible to tend bar at the reunion parties (good tips!)

The school might be good for references, but you’ll learn a lot more from actual work (sounds kinda like college in general).


Worth it? Nope.

I had two friends who plunked down $500 apiece for bartending school. They learned to pour better, and they got a few more drink recipes crammed into their brain, and . . . did I mention they paid $500? The place was supposed to set them up with jobs, but that’s easier said than done. They’ll set you up w/ an interview if one of the places they’re in contact with asks them to, but that’s about it. If you have no bartending experience, you have to rely on nepotism. My good buddy Sam, for example, got his bartending job because his siser’s fiancé managed a bar. Anyone who drinks a lot can be an adequate bar tender, class or no. If you don’t know anyone in a position to get an unearned job, than you’ll probably have to slum it for a while. Get some other job at a place w/ a bar and work your way up to booze-jockey. With bartending experience, traditional means of getting a job can apply.

And those two amigos who took the course? One of them had a job in a bar, as a busboy/emergency bartender, for about 3 weeks . . . because his uncle knew a guy who knew a guy. . .

Seriously, save your money.

Damn. Late again. Ditto to what VarlosZ and Jorge said. I too bartended through college. I still miss the money and people. But, I had to move on.

Save your money. Bars that I worked at would not hire someone on bartending school experience only. You need practical experience. Look through the paper and find either jobs willing to train or barback positions. The bars and restuarants who will train will likely be swamped with applications. So, the best track to get your foot in the door is barbacking. Make it known that you want to tend bar within a certain period of time or when the next opening comes up. Be patient.

You’ll have to put in some time before you get the good shifts. This is essentially the testing phase. How well do you handle pressure? How well do you interact with customers? More important still, how well do you interact with management? All these variables and more will be looked at. Stay calm and learn from others in the business and you should do fine.

If that track would take too long, frequent a bar regularily. Get to know the management and bar staff. Tip like mad. After you develop a repertoire with the key players, hint about your wanting to bartend. If they like you, they’ll either put you in touch with others or consider you when an opening comes up.

Only a few suggestions, but it’s how I got into the business. To this day, I still miss it. It’s a fun enviroment and great money. Besides, there’s never been an easier way to meet women.

Hope you save your money and explore options myself and others have mentioned.

What everyone else said. I worked at and managed numerous restaurants, and I would never hire someone just because they went to a bartending school. This is a job that you need to learn by doing it, not solely by reading about it or “simulating” it at a fake bar, which is how the bartending schools train people.

I learned how to bartend by first waitressing at a nightclub and watching the bartenders. I also made sure to pay attention to what ingredients went into each drink and the mechanics of how they are correctly made – what goes in first, how do you line up the glasses on a multiple-drink order, which drinks get shaken, etc. Then I kept pestering the managers until finally they let me start bartending on some slow shifts.

Damn, MissBunny!

Where were you when I needed a good waitress. You set up the drink order! You actually had an order routine! You and I would have made a killer team!

Why is it I’m so late on these things?

Pretty unanimous. Remember: the mixing itself can be learned by anyone with a normal memory in a few minutes. Everything is either what it’s called (gin & tonic, rum & coke), or “x + sour mix + optional soda” (x = whatever liquor/s, then just remember the name, which covers Tom Collins to L.I. Iced teas), a coupla milk drinks (generally the same: x + milk + optional cr. de cocoa), and the occasional oddity where the customers wouldn’t know what’s in it anyway (Sex on the beach, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, etc…).

The job at a bar pays you for your personality, the ability to add 3.75 + 5.25 + 12.50 ad nauseam without erring, and ultimately the ability to generate customers and regulars; eg. fun & profit. A good BT can mix and sell piss and vinegar and keep the clientele.

The straightforward slinging of booze where that doesn’t matter is the service bar at a restaurant or catering (don’t want the bridesmaids chatting with the help, eh ?)

Good luck.

Bartending = Awesome. I want to be a sexy female bartender during my lovely college career…Studios genius by day, sexy alcoholic by night. Yeeeaaaaaahhhhh. So, in short…go to bartending school, pick up chicks, love life…and study hard. Waaaaazzzzuuuuuuuupppppppp.


If your a babe, you have a better chance than the guys.

You’re looking at bartending school? What did I and others’ say earlier in this thread?

Think honey bunch.

Wait a minute, your not a guy, are you?

Uhhh, sorry, I only like women.

I’m quite the WOMANLY woman, thankyou very much…hubba hubba I know…damn hormones. Anyway, I just think bartending would be a fun for a little fling or two :wink: Yay. Que exciting.


If you look like you post, you’ll have no problem getting in the bartending field.

Learn a couple of drinks, which most of the others’ are made out of, Vodka, Gin, Rum, and mix, you’ll soon be good to go.

For interview purposes, you need to know what’s in a Rusty Nail.

Scotch and Drambuie.

Amazingly enough, this comes up more often than not.

If you make into the cities, let me know. I’m always on the lookout for a fun party.

Besides, I can personally show you the ropes.

My two cents…

I was bartending for a couple of years when my boss decided that since I was head bartender, I should go to bartending school. Not because I wasn’t doing a good job, but because I was training all of the other staff, and he thought it would be a good idea. He paid for it.

Since I had already been bartending, I really didn’t learn anything new, although I did learn a lot of great recipes that the staff kept trying out.

The only advantage seemed to be that with additional bartending experience, it looked good on a resume. I also learned a lot more about the liquor laws.

It was a 2 week course, as opposed to the 3 night course Sublight mentioned.

The cool course to take would have been the performance bartending course, which was a Tom Cruise/Cocktail sort of thing. Sadly, that only ran nights, and I couldn’t get the time off.

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Okay. I’ve had too many. Cut me off, barkeep. I’m seeing double.

ETA. NM. I’ll take one more.