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Bartending school isn’t what it used to be, and we mean that in the best way possible. Gone are the days of shelling out hundreds of dollars just to learn how to make Rob Roys and Tom Collins cocktails using dummy bottles filled with water and food coloring, only for the glasses to stick to the bar top when “served.” In fact, bar education is more accessible and affordable than ever before, thanks to technology, social media, and an industry that’s only gaining more and more momentum with some serious talent at the forefront. Here are our picks for the best online bartending schools.
If you're looking for a bartending education in the form of two sought-after industry legends as your virtual mentors, this MasterClass series is your best bet.
In this program, New York City's Lynnette Marrero (Llama Inn and Speed Rack) and London's Ryan Chetiyawardana (Mr. Lyan) will teach you everything you need to know about the modern bartending world, from building a foundational understanding of classic recipes to sharpening your palate and everything in between. This dynamic duo manages to keep things interesting at all times, so there's never a dull moment, making this MasterClass experience a great option for those who learn more efficiently when entertained.
The syllabus consists of 17 videos, most of which are between roughly 15 and 30 minutes long, beginning with cocktail philosophy and venturing through the drinks family tree's ins and outs (sours, old fashioneds, martinis, negronis, highballs, and more). MasterClass costs about $180 for the year, which breaks down to approximately $15 monthly. While this might seem like a lot for just one class, the membership includes access to the entire MasterClass roster: Think of it as a full year's worth of unlimited classes across tons of different categories.
Husband-and-wife team Chris and Julia Tunstall are the collective powerhouse behind A Bar Above, an online hub for bartender education, entertainment, and support through multiple mediums.
Through A Bar Above, both aspiring and professional bartenders can hone their skills at no cost by tuning in to the couple's YouTube channel and podcast, both of which are full of industry intel like tips, tricks, recipes, how-tos, interviews, crash-courses in various spirits categories, and more.
Suppose you enjoy the couple's free content and want to take things a step further. In that case, you can enroll in A Bar Above's certification program for a flat rate of about $147, which includes lifetime access to exclusive HD course lessons that are optimized for mobile. Plus, viewers can access accompanying notes and cheat sheets in addition to quizzes and valuable community mentorship. This track offers certification upon completion.
Regardless of which path you take, A Bar Above's Facebook groups for both beginners and professionals serve as great support systems with resources for members at any point in their education or career. Suppose you're a fan of the Tunstalls' free content and don't plan on enrolling in the paid certificate program. In that case, you can always show your appreciation by purchasing barware from their very own professional custom collection.
European Bartender School’s The Essentials of Bartending
Attention all (well, most) Romance language speakers: The European Bartender School caters to those who speak Spanish, French, German, and Italian, offering subtitles over an Anglophone-led series of more than 34 bartending videos.
This intensive, three-and-a-half-hour course covers all of the essential bartender basics in a concise yet in-depth format spanning technique, pro tips, classic builds, theory, best service practices, and more, accompanied by a tome of study notes for you to keep.
The Bartending online course's Essentials will generally run you a flat fee of roughly $50 (a total steal). If you're still not sure, you can sign up for a free trial with five free lessons via the course page. Additionally, you can experience one of the company's in-person courses, offered at nearly 30 different locations across the world.
Some of us learn best on our own terms, and that’s where an educational app like JERRY comes in. It is named for the one and only Jerry Thomas, one of the godfathers of cocktail culture as we know it today.
This digital bar mentor is accessible by phone, computer, and tablet and offers five different course levels to take at your own pace, including Beverage and Hospitality I and II and three subsequent management tiers—all of which consist of 25 or more course modules and cost $30 each. However, a recurring membership costs about $10 monthly and provides unlimited access to all of the above.
Across its curricula, JERRY’s core topics include history, service, hospitality, prep, sustainability, ethics, leadership, inventory management, and much more. These courses provide a holistic look at beverage service through videos, guided activities, and intelligent testing, starting with basic bartending and service techniques and building on that with all the tools you’ll need to pave the way for a career in the industry. JERRY is also available in a team format for bars, restaurants, and groups.
There’s something to be said for a bartender kicking off her career by winning a major national drinks competition. This is exactly how HOLLOW LEG was born, says founder and owner Devin Kidner, a Chicago-based entrepreneur whose mission is to teach beginners the science behind mixology with “Julia Child-like” enthusiasm.
What’s unique about Kidner’s classes (aside from being easygoing, lighthearted, and centered around a scientific approach) is that they’re designed to teach you theory and principles first, giving you the tools to navigate making drinks—both with and without alcohol intuitively.
HOLLOW LEG offers a few different online experiences, including a one-hour Mixology 101 that explores “dilution and temperature [and] the science of taste (including trigeminal effects)” along with the basics of spirits, bitters, tinctures, and more. During this class, you’ll make one cocktail with Kidner.
The course costs about $35 per person, and there’s an extended version of it (roughly 90 minutes) that involves making two cocktails that cost approximately $45 per person. You can buy your supplies ahead of time or purchase a kit through HOLLOW LEG—to book or purchase, simply contact Kidner through her website.
What Are Online Bartending Schools?
A virtual or online bartending class is an education system that uses technology to teach students the ins and outs of making drinks from the comfort of their own homes. Often, these courses stem from in-person class concepts and are taught by industry experts with years of experience in the field. Some are meant to be experienced independently, and some work well for groups (both casual and professional).
How Are Online Bartending Classes Different From Online Cocktail Classes?
An online cocktail class is typically a one-off virtual event that walks guests through the making of one or two cocktails (sometimes more, depending on the class). Virtual or online bartending classes are more in-depth and explore what it takes to make a great drink—think theory, technique, history, ethics, and the like—while teaching classic recipes and giving you the tools to build on that foundation.
How Much Do Online Bartending Classes Cost?
As with most products and experiences, the cost depends on the company and the format you choose. If you’re just looking for something casual to do on your own time, you can always opt for a free or low-cost platform. Or, if you’re looking to go all out and cap your education with certification, there are options from roughly $50 to $150, generally speaking. It’s all about finding the right fit for your objectives and budget.
How We Chose the Best Online Bartending Schools
There are plenty of online learning resources out there for bartenders, from novices to experts and everything in between, and this list is a one-stop-shop for the bartending journey at any stage. We found it important to take learning styles into account, too, which is why we’ve included different formats and approaches while considering accessibility from both a language and cost perspective.
In short, there’s something for everyone on this list by design. If you want to learn the basics or hone your professional skills but can’t spend the money, consider a resource like A Bar Above with its free videos, podcasts, social media groups, and blog content (if you choose to go for the paid certification later, the option is always there). If you’re stuck at home but don’t own a computer, you can set up a shop via your phone with the JERRY app. Looking for equal parts levity and expertise? Sign up for the MasterClass course with Marrero and Chetiyawardana (and put your membership to further use by learning other various skills throughout the rest of the year). No matter your skill level, budget, or circumstances, you’re bound to find an education to toast to here.