Bartending Schools Seeing Spike In Enrollment

By Staff
May 15, 2009

The recession is driving many to consider bartending as a profession.

"When times are good, people go out to celebrate," explained Craig Glick, owner of the Professional Bartending School of Dayton, Ohio, who was quoted in the Dayton Daily News. "When times are bad, they go out and celebrate anyway."

So far, 125 people have completed Glick's bartending course this year. The 40-hour course costs about $700, and the school is certified by the state Board of Career Colleges and Schools.

"Trade schools tend to flourish when times are bad," noted Roger Oldham, president of Professional Bartending Schools of America. "The past six years have been busy because of all the jobs that have been cut."

In Houston, where bartending school enrollment has increased by 25 percent since last year, students agree that the recession plays a part.

"As bartender you pretty much constantly have a job," explained William Jenkins, a student enrolled at the Texas School of Bartending, who was quoted by KIAH-TV. "Sadly, believe it or not, a lot of people drink or result to drinking as a result of being out of work. People tend to drink their cares away."

Boogie McCutcheon, who directs the school, noted that those who take the bartending course range from college students to retirees hoping to supplement their income. "Overall, it's fun," he said. "There's no way to not enjoy getting paid for pouring drinks."

In a related story, The Wall Street Journal reports that several organizations have begun to offer graduate-style bartending courses which certify drink makers as "masters of mixology." Those who organize the classes aim to draw more sophisticated drinkers to the nation's bars by training bartenders who know how to mix pricier cocktails.

The courses are different from bartending schools in that they treat cocktail making as an art, and expect students to already have some basic bartending skills. The duration of the classes range from the BarSmarts Advanced month-long course to the U.S. Bartenders' Guild "master mixologist" program, which takes about two years to complete and includes a written thesis.

Besides working as bartenders, graduates of the courses can aspire to work as brand "ambassadors" for liquor companies, who teach bars and restaurants how to create cocktails with their brands. Others can become consultants for restaurants interested in creating cocktail lists.

"It used to be people would ask a bartender, 'What do you really do?'" said Derek Brown, a consultant for restaurants and bars. "I think that is changing because there are a lot of prominent bartenders who are building reputations."

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