Many people who want to become bartenders need to consider whether they want to learn by buying a bartending course or going to a bartending school. But, a school is a potentially dangerous choice! For the aspiring bartender, attending a bartending school can do more harm than good, giving a new bartender a false sense of security about his bartending skills that, in the long run, can hurt his chances of earning a good living.
People often think that in order to become a working, professional bartender, you must be trained and certified. For the most part, this is not the case. While there are a few states in the U.S. that require certification, this usually amounts to taking a short course in alcohol safety and paying a fee of between twenty and forty dollars. It is not necessary to spend hundreds of dollars or be extensively trained, as bartending school representatives often want you to believe.
Bartending schools teach outdated drink recipes to students as though they were still current. Old drinks such as the Harvey Wallbanger, the Grasshopper, and the Pink Squirrel are seldom ordered by customers nowadays, yet they are still found in the training manuals of bartending schools. This means that the bartender who has just “graduated” from a bartending school does not really know what drinks a typical customer base is likely to order, and in fact, he or she may not even know what the current popular drinks are! So a customer coming to order a drink from a bartender who has just come from bartending school may be disappointed when he orders his favorite drink.
The inexperienced bartender will have to either admit to the customer that he doesn’t know how to make the drink, or he will have to look up the drink in a recipe book, or-worst case scenario-he will have to ask another bartender working at the bar how to make the drink. In any case, this poor bartender will be revealing his inexperience, and the extra hassle involved as the customer waits for his drink may cost him his tip.