The Best Online Spirits Classes of 2021

Learn some new skills or improve on what you already know

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While it’s fun to watch your favorite mixologist utilize the latest trends to masterfully create artisan cocktails—think smoked spirits or infused cocktails—it’s even more exciting to learn to create cocktails using these same techniques in your home bar. Bartenders already in the know can benefit from online spirits classes too, to take their career to the next level.

No matter your interest level, you can learn the craft of making cocktails, adding the perfect garnish, using bar tools, and more for the home enthusiast, plus certification for bartending professionals. We even included a distilling course so you can learn what goes into the process of distilling a batch of whisky to use in custom cocktails. Here is our roundup of the best online spirits classes.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: BarSmarts

BarSmarts

BarSmarts

Why We Chose It: With courses for professional bartenders as well as beginners, the BarSmarts program offers certification and a wide range of instruction.

What We Like
  • Advanced learning sessions

  • Option for staff certification

  • Students have 60 days to complete the program

What We Didn't Like
  • Home bartenders may prefer less professional training

At BarSmarts, you’ll choose from one of two levels of online learning: BarSmarts and BarStarts.

BarSmarts is designed for the professional bartender and offers comprehensive training that includes how to taste like a professional, product knowledge, the history of spirits and liqueurs, a comprehensive cocktail compendium from 1800 to present, and service management techniques.

Whereas BarSmarts is designed for the working professional, home bartenders and beginners will benefit from the BarStarts program. Beginner bartenders will learn about spirits and liqueurs, the essentials of proper service, the fundamentals of bartending, and more.

Each program costs $29.

The BarSmarts Advanced option is a daylong session for those wanting additional instruction plus testing and certification.

Best Group Experience: Tatton & Thompson

Tatton & Thompson

Tatton & Thompson

Why We Chose It: Individuals can join group classes, but groups of six or more can get a private virtual class.

What We Like
  • TT Liquor Masterclass

  • Group or individual options

  • Seasonal and themed classes

What We Didn't Like
  • Structured for the home bartender, not professionals

Tatton & Thompson integrated virtual learning to offer quality education in an interactive social environment for home learners.

Following a similar structure to their in-person courses, the virtual cocktail classes are offered alongside its sister company, Mixology Events. You’ll learn core techniques, create custom cocktails, and end with a virtual cocktail making competition.

Everything you need (except the ice) will be delivered to your door before class, including instructions for setting up your home bar. On the day of the class, you’ll join a virtual waiting room until the class starts. Each session lasts from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on what you signed up for. You’ll make (and drink) five cocktails during the class. The first four are by instruction from the host; at the end, you will create your own cocktail using the mystery ingredients included in a package sent to you.

Best for Beginners: Udemy Bartending

Udemy

 Udemy

Why We Chose It: The Udemy Bartending course is tailored for the home enthusiast or new bartender as an introduction to cocktails.

What We Like
  • Learn from a champion mixologist

  • Designed for every skill level

What We Didn't Like
  • No certification

  • Must purchase specific bar tools

At the Udemy Bartending course, world champion mixologist Paul Martin teaches students how to mix world-class cocktails. As a trainer of more than 40,000 bartenders, Martin has worked in the industry for 25 years.

Before the class, you’ll need to purchase the required bar equipment and alcohol. You’ll see examples for 16 of the most popular cocktails to make them yourself after the course. During the course, you’ll learn what makes a great cocktail, secrets for creating the perfect cocktail, and garnishes to finish off the presentation. Learn to make popular favorites such as a mojito, cosmopolitan, dry martini, and 13 additional cocktails.

This beginner’s course takes the mystery out of creating cocktails. The course fee is $29.99.

Best Mixology Certification: A Bar Above

A Bar Above

 A Bar Above

Why We Chose It: A Bar Above focuses on the craft of mixology and does not teach bartending.

What We Like
  • Students learn advanced skills

  • Lifetime access to class and materials is given

  • Learn via video and text

What We Didn't Like
  • The history of spirits is not covered

A Bar Above differentiates itself from other courses by separating bartending from mixology and focuses on the art of creating syrups, tinctures, and bitters; experimentation techniques; and flavors and textures that create a unique cocktail.

Whether you're a professional or enthusiast, you’ll learn advanced skills for developing original cocktails from scratch.

The $147 program includes a three-step process to certification that involves courses and a two-part final exam. The first step is Master Your Ingredients and teaches an understanding of cocktail components. The second step teaches Master Balance & Flavor for a Mixology 101 course. With step three, you’ll earn your certificate with a two-part certification exam that includes a multiple-choice test and practical exam.

Best for Distilling: Moonshine University

Moonshine University

 Moonshine University

Why We Chose It: If a bartender or mixologist wants to learn about the spirits used in cocktails, this class in distilling teaches that plus practical applications for someone wanting to start the practice.

What We Like
  • Appropriate for experienced distillers and beginners

  • Teaches the history of whisky

  • Students learn the production process

What We Didn't Like
  • Only one online course option

Moonshine University launched in 2012 as an educational facility to teach new distillers how to get started in the industry. Now you can train from a distance and learn from the comfort of home in a two-session workshop led by Matt Strickland, Master Distiller at Distillerie Cote des Saints.

The course is appropriate for every skill level—an experienced distiller, someone wanting to learn the distilling process, or someone simply interested in learning more about whisky and how it is made.

In addition to learning about the history of whisky, the production processes, and standards of identity, you’ll study grains and distillate components of various whisky styles and learn best practices and insights into traditional and alternative aging. Even more, you’ll learn about the chemical reactions that occur during the aging process, how to manipulate variables to achieve desired flavors, and more.

The eight-hour webinar is broken into two parts of four hours each and costs $350.

Final Verdict

While there are courses for every skill level, most are appropriate for any level of experience. There are also courses for professional bartenders wishing to further their career or add new liquor trends to their crafting repertoire, as well as classes for someone at home wanting to impress friends or create a craft cocktail. With that in mind, we selected BarSmarts as the best overall option.

What Are Online Spirits Classes?

Online spirits classes are designed for professional bartenders and home bartenders alike to learn about the art of crafting cocktails. They involve watching either live or prerecorded videos during a structured course or webinar.

Do Online Spirits Classes Require Work as a Bartender?

The majority of online spirits courses are designed for the beginner to learn cocktail skills, but professional bartenders may also learn some new tricks of the trade that they can bring to their profession. However, beginners may want to take an introductory course before enrolling in a more detailed class.

Do I Need to Buy My Own Alcohol and Tools for an Online Spirits Class?

For all of the courses listed here except Tatton & Thompson, you’ll need to purchase any needed supplies.

How We Chose the Best Online Spirits Classes

Because of the variety of courses available, we chose programs where both the at-home bartender as well as the professional bartender would benefit and learn. Whereas a bartender seeking to improve their skills would gravitate toward the BarSmarts or A Bar Above courses, the beginner or home enthusiast would do better with courses designed for fun as well as education such as those offered by Tatton & Thompson or Udemy Bartending. And, anyone wanting to learn about the history and process of distilling whisky would enjoy the Moonshine University course.

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