Bartending School? Really?

Today I’d like to pose a question to all you veteran bartenders and servers out there:  What is up with the stigma against “Bartending School?”

Many drink slingers (including myself) find the idea of attending bartending school to be sort of odd.  At some bars and restaurants, the mere mention of bartending school on a job application will insight laughter and be cause for an immediate trip to the discard pile.  This seems incongruous and a little bit snotty.

Certainly a great number of these bartending schools are imparting pertinent information to their students and given the number of skills and the tremendous product and legal information bartenders are expected to know, why shouldn’t someone new to the beverage industry go to bartending school?

There is no shortage of these types of schools and they are raking in the dough training folks in the art of mixology, glassware, flare techniques and service.  Google “bartending school” and see for yourself.   National Bartending School claims “To be the best bartender, you need to be trained by the best bartending school.”


While I don’t believe one needs the mental abilities of a rocket scientist to become a bartender, I don’t believe that a week spent in a “simulator bar environment” qualifies an individual to handle my customers, my cash and a controlled substance.

Perhaps it is because those of us ingrained in the biz view our job skills and experience like sex:  You gain knowledge by experience and practice…..not school.  Oh, you can read up on the subject, adding as much up to date information as you like and learning new, eh hum, “techniques” from the experts.  But school?  That’s just weird.

I could be dead wrong in my little analogy.  I have been wrong before.  If anyone out there had a positive experience either as a student in one of these schools, or successfully hired a graduate, please, share your story.  However, if you attended a “sex school” please keep your experience to yourself.


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