What to expect when attending Fine Art Bartending School
First, head on down to our downtown Vancouver location, located at 432 West Pender, 2 blocks from the Granville Skytrain Station.
We are located right on the street, its a small storefront, but you cant miss the big “Learn To Bartend” sign on the window.
Come on in, we will meet you at the front desk, check you in & give you your 150 page textbook, only takes a minute.
Head into our classroom & meet your instructor. Now its time to get started!
After a short introduction, your instructor will begin to introduce you to the set up of our long, long bar, which bottles go where & why, how the pop guns work etc.
Next up is the equipment. Your instructor will walk you through all the shaker sets, strainers, pour spouts & bar mat’s, towels, & glassware found in the average bar, what its all used for & why.
After a short demonstration on proper pouring techniques with the pour spouts, time for you to get up behind the bar for the 1st time! After you familiarize yourself with your new working environment, time to work on some precision pouring techniques. 15 minutes of focus and you are a master at single shot pours, double shot pours, free pours etc.. Very important to be precise & not spill, bar managers do not like a bartender who isn’t in total control of the inventory.
Sit back down & we can talk about how different drinks get put together. Why & when you would build, shake, stir, strain, muddle, blend or layer a drink, and what each method looks like.
Next we talk about whiskey. Canadian, Scottish, Irish & American. What its made from, and what drinks we can make with it. Your instructor will carefully demonstrate 6-10 recipes, all made with whiskey as the base alcohol. Now its your turn. Back up behind the bar you go to work your way through each of the recipes. Some recipes need to be memorized, some don’t. The important thing is to spend the time up behind the bar, working your way through recipes, finding all the various liquors, liqueurs, bitters, syrups etc.. The first day it can be a little overwhelming, but every drink you make you get a little faster, a little more confident & a little smoother. It takes many hours of pouring drinks to look like you know what your are doing, and thats what your here for, hours and hours behind the bar, repetition, making order after order. 7 more days of this & you will look like a pro!
We wrap up the 1st day with a lesson on modifiers. Starbucks baristas can deal with dozens of modifiers to their coffee drinks without blinking an eye, (decaf, non-fat, extra shot, half-sweet, no foam etc..), and we bartenders have a dozen of our own we need to get comfortable with (short, tall, double, half-ice, neat, back, side, extra spicy, sidecar of soda, loaded, etc. etc..). We take you through all of these, and after 8 days of working with modified drink orders, you wont even think twice when your customer requests 3 modifiers for their cocktail.
“Does everyone remember those whiskey drinks we made yesterday? Think you could make them blindfolded. We didn’t think so. So lets jump behind the bar, get set up & spend a little more time on them”
After everyones set-up, warmed up, and refreshed on what we worked on yesterday, time to get into some new concepts. How is alcohol made? Why are some sweet, and some taste like nothing? Why are some brown and others clear? Can I make it in my backyard? These and a few other questions will now be answered.
Back up behind the bar everyone… Now that you know a few recipes, we can start throwing a few curveballs at you. Yesterday you learned how to make a Whiskey Sour.
Now make me an Amaretto Sour, a Vodka Sour, a Banana Sour. Many recipes are really just a guideline, they are important to know, and this 20 minute drill teaches you that customers can request major variations of these recipes you are now familiar with. After this exercise, no weird variation on a popular recipe will ever throw you for a loop.
Now lets sit back down and we can talk about gin. How its made, popular brands etc.. Next we discuss martini’s & other gin cocktails. Your instructor will give you a complete demonstration on several martini & gin cocktail recipes, now its your turn once again to get up behind the bar and work through 10-12 gin-based recipes & variations on martini’s. Each day you will find it a little easier to tackle new cocktails, its a little easier to find your way around, and after a few days, you can even start to look up from what you are doing and have a conversation with a customer, all while adding up the price of the drink order in your head! well, maybe not quite all that today, next week though ; )
Next lets talk about tips. Tips are good. How do we make tips, there are several ways. To make the maximum amount of tips possible, we need to talk about 2 things, how to deliver exceptional customer service, and upselling. What exceptional service looks like. Why its important. How can we upsell in a way that makes the customer feel like we are trying to help them get the exact custom/tailored drink they really want. What can we upsell. These are all big topics, and we will continue to touch on them throughout the rest of the course.
Hopefully by now you are seeing a pattern with how our classes work. We talk about a concept, then we get up behind the bar and do it, we talk about a theory topic, then we get up behind the bar and do a drill of some sort. Sit and learn for 20 minutes, then up behind the bar for 60 minutes. Up, down all day, you will find the days pass quickly. The first 2 days have a little more theory/discussion, just to get you really familiar with everything, and get you into good habits. Day 3 and onward, you will find you are spending 75% of your time up behind the bar, working through recipes, efficiency, customer service, upselling, streamlining, multitasking etc.. and only 25% of your time talking/discussing theory.
Now that you have the general idea, we will be more brief describing the remaining days of the course;
Review of gin cocktails & martini’s.
Vodka, how its made, what makes a great vodka vs a cheap vodka, popular brands
Vodka based cocktails. This is a big topic. Vodka is the most popular spirit by far, so there are alot of them. Again, you don’t have to memorize all of them, but there are certain recipes that every bartender should know.
Streamlining & efficiency. Another big topic. As long as you are a bartender, you will never stop working on being efficient. But it all starts here, making 2, then 3, then 4 then 5 different cocktails at the same time, never touching the same bottle twice, not turning around and walking over to find ingredients any more than is absolutely necessary. Just generally being efficient. The difference between a fast bartender and a slow bartender has nothing to do with how fast they move, and everything to do with who is being more efficient with their movements.
Review of Vodka Drinks Practice session using your new efficiency techniques, no more making 1 drink at a time, we start the day with 2 dozen or so rounds of 3 drink orders focusing on efficiency.
Tequila, how its made, what makes a great tequila, tequila based cocktails. Demonstration & then your turn to get up behind the bar & master the few tequila based cocktails.
Hot drinks, Specialty Coffee’s, Blueberry tea, etc…
Rum, how its made, different types, & rum based cocktails, back up behind the bar you go to master the rum based cocktails.
Big practice session of all the drinks we learned last week to start the day, focus on efficiency.
Review Tequila & Rum Cocktails.
Talk about the BC Government Serving It Right Program. Brief explanation of the program, how it works & your responsibilities around serving alcohol.
Liqueurs; Baileys, Sambuca, Amaretto, Kahlua, Jagermiester, the list goes on and on, how they are made, why they all taste so different, various types & flavors, and demo liqueur based cocktails. Jump back behind the bar and run through some liqueur based recipes.
Brandy & Cognac, where it comes from, what makes a $500 bottle versus a $20 bottle, how to serve.
Back behind the bar for a customer service drill. Recommending cocktails to customers based on what they like. Its not an easy one, but its super important to be able to apply all your new bartending knowledge to actually make customers great drinks that they will love, taking into account the customer’s taste.
Big practice session to start the day, 20 or so rounds of 3 to 5 drinks each. Important to keep bartending, every day, keep at it, confidence keeps growing, and your starting to look like a pro. Quite a difference from day one!
Beer time. Lets talk about how its made (briefly), different types, kegs versus bottles, how keg systems work, and serving beer.
Back behind the bar, time to work on your memory. In busier places, customers give you 3 to 5 drink orders, and you don’t see bartenders writing orders down, they work from memory. We will give you some tips & tricks to help remember drink orders.
Wine – Even if you don’t like wine, to work in a bar, you need to know some basics. What’s a grape varietal, different countries that are important in the wine world, what wines go with what food, sweeter wines versus drier, whats a desert wine (port, sherry, ice wine etc..), sparkling wines & champagne. A good round up of the basics to get you started into the world of wine.
We start the day with everyone behind the bar, and we do a big review of everything we learned so far, recipes, techniques, efficiency, all of it, this usually takes 90 minutes. How to look for a bartending job. The bar and restaurant industry is quite different from most. Its worth taking 45 minutes and talking about how to go about looking for a bartending job.
Shooters – Popular recipes, different preparation methods, up behind the bar to try the techniques.
Resumes – Bartending Is not a traditional job with traditional rules for resumes. 45 minutes of tips and recommendations for preparing a great bartending resume.
The last review & the final practice session.
The Exam. A short written exam, followed by a practical exam where you are behind the bar making a few select cocktails for the instructor.
Yay!!!! your done, we hand you a Bartending Certificate, and usually head out for some drinks!
Hopefully this gives you a pretty good idea of what its like to attend our program. The majority of your time will be spent behind our bar, bartending. And about 25% of the time we will sit and discuss the theory side. Your up and down alot, and the time fly’s by.
Weekend classes are longer days and we get through 2 of the above lessons in each of the 4 Saturdays. The time is a bit compressed, we cover things a little more quickly. But, after we load you up with info each Saturday, you have a whole week in between classes to digest it. We do not see any real difference in exam results between our weekday & weekend students.
If you take our weekday, or weekend classes, and you feel you missed something, or would like to repeat a single class, or even the entire course, you are welcome to come back anytime, no charge, forever. That’s our guarantee.