The Bartending Course

Last week I completed one bartending class and next week finish up another. For those out there wondering how I go about teaching the course here is an outline of each week and what is all involved. The other day I was picking up our new van when I ran into a former student who was still thinking of doing some bartending and waitering part time to make some extra money. I asked her how she enjoyed the course and her reply was how can anyone not enjoy my bartending class.

Let’s face it , what can be more fun than making drinks! Then tasting them after you make them!

The school gives me over 10 weeks $300 to go out and buy the liquor , ice , cream , juices , garnishes for the drinks , does the photocopying of the recipes and provides me with any other equipment that I need like show a DVD to the class. Because I work in the business I can provide some insight as to the job market and some service tips as well. Also since I have worked practically everywhere and in different venues I can help them choose what would be the best path for them.

Each class I make some drinks to show them how it’s done and everyone has a straw to taste each one. They do not have to of course and one drink is sufficient enough to be passed around the entire class. No one is getting intoxicated. In fact , I would say during a 3 hour class maybe someone might consume the equivalent of 2 oz of alcohol. Nowadays it is rare that a bartending class will use actual liquor. Instead many use coloured water which is fine but it is nice to be able to taste the real thing and see how the flavours of the drink blend in all together. This is what makes the course I teach fun.

On top of this , I add some role playing when students pretend they are the bartender and others come up and ask for a drink and they have to remember what goes into it. This tells me as well who is studying and who isn’t. The exercise helps the student think fast on their feet. I may even blare a radio in the background to distract the student and give it a feel of it being a real bar.

During the 10 weeks we may go on a couple of field trips to different local bars to talk to bartenders and owners about the business. This may also help the students themselves get an in to a job with the owner right there knowing that this is a pool of potential future employees. In fact , one owner offers students to work on the floor for a couple of hours in his sports bar to get some experience. How great is that!

Throughout the course I give some quizzes as to what they have learned and at the end give them a real easy multiple choice quiz. For me it is not so much about the test but them getting the experience of making drinks. The real test comes when they are behind a real bar the first time and seeing and serving someone.

Well here is the outline of the course I teach at Georgian College that so far anyway has worked very well.

Week 1 Introduction to Bar Set-Up , Glassware , Teminology
Week 2 Smartserve Video and Test ( Mandatory for all servers of alcohol here in Ontario )
Week 3 Standard Cocktails ( Cocktails that never change over time ex. Martinis )
Week 4 Cream Drinks
Week 5 Frozen Drinks
Week 6 Flavoured Martinis
Week 7 Wine , Beer , Sherries , Port , Eau-de-vie , and other fortified wines
Week 8 Shooters and Specialty Coffees
Week 9 Make your own drinks ( this is when I bring everything in and they make whatever)
Week 10 Final exam

After the course if anyone needs help looking for work , a reference , or just needs some questions answered they have my email and phone number.

Well that is about it on the bartending course. It is fun for everyone and some have gone on to get some good jobs which makes me grateful that I can be of some help in another person’s life.



  1. That is a pretty comprehensive course. I would like just to take it for fun 🙂 – I would go back to waitressing in a heartbeat [love it] but I don’t think I could work a bar.I always seemed to find that the bartenders made better tips [and pay rate] then the waiters/tresses – I didn’t mind tipping them EVER they are extremely valuable – but do you think it is true that they make better bank then us? [I worked at 4 restaurants – 1 fine dining, 2 privately owned mid level and 1 privately owned mexican fun/dive] 🙂

  2. SkippyMom…where I work the bartenders work longer and they make more for sure.But it’s heavy work too and for the younger crowd. I prefer waiting now but started off as a bartender. The nice stool bars of hotels have disappeared. It is definitely a fun course , I enjoy it.

  3. Great times. Of all the teaching I do, drinking related courses always appeal to the masses. And of course, nothing appeals as much to the teacher, as the pupils enjoying their class….

  4. James…for sure it definitely is a fun , stress free course. That is the whole idea and the feedback is great.

  5. I would love to take a course in bartending. I want to become the best I can be and I know I have a lot of room for improvement. I know of classes but they are in Chicago which is two hours from me. I am looking for something closer. Hopefully I can find something somewhere.

  6. Chris…it is good to know if you are in the industry for sure. A lot of people just take the course too for their own interest.Maybe just find a bar near where you live and suggest to the bartender starting a course or just showing you the ropes.I guess where you work does not serve alcohol cause that would be a perfect training ground too.

  7. I work at a golf course and we are basically a shot and beer bar. There are only two other staff members who work behind the bar besides myself, one being my manager, which this is his second year there. I am actually the one with the most bar experience but I feel I could sure use some pointers. I am the one who does all the parties and weddings. I also want to be more marketable as well, as I am planning to move to WI in the next year or so. Things are always changing in the bartending industry. I feel very outdated and basic.I know of another bartender in town who I admire. I actually trained him once upon a time. He took bartending and made it his own. Perhaps I will talk to him about possibly starting a class.Thanks!

  8. Chris…sometimes just serving beer and shots you can make a good dollar.I think you have a great idea and glad to be of some help.You are an ambitious person!

  9. Nice course, Steve. We have operated bartending schools in the states for years. They are of the variety with colored water, with practise in a fully built out bar….but without real alcohol. Occaisionally for layered drinks we bring in some heavy colored liquers.One of our ex instructors taught a class like yours in a university town. Some of those students then took our program for the hands on practise and active job placement. Let me tell you….they appreciated tasting the drinks in her class.An engaging teacher clearly makes the class 1000 per cent better. I’m sure you are in that category.Dave

  10. Barschooldude…It is fun for sure and helps people find work like you guys are doing.We are helping out.

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