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BarSmarts Wired: Online Training for Professional Bartenders

BarSmarts Goes Virtual

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Bar Smarts Wired Bar Tools

Bar Smarts Wired Bar Tools

Photo Courtesy of: © Bar Smarts
For the first time, professional bartenders can get almost the same amount of training online as they could previously at one of BarSmarts Advanced live seminar. This limited offering began ran from August through September of 2009 with plans to offer it at least quarterly in the future. For serious bartenders looking to brush up on their skills and, especially, their knowledge of liquor and cocktails it is a course not to be missed. I have checked out many online bartending courses and this one has to be one of the best to date.

What is BarSmarts Wired?

BarSmarts Wired takes the knowledge of the renowned mixologists of Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR- Dale DeGroff, Doug Frost, Steve Olson, F. Paul Pacult, Andy Seymour and David Wondrich) and was by spirits importer Pernod Ricard. The course material is the same as BarSmarts Advanced, an invitation only bartending class, which usually takes place twice a year in New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.

For the online version you have four weeks to study the material online and take a test at the end of each of the four modules, which includes Spirits Basics, Spirits Categories, Cocktails and Mixology, and Practical Application and Service. Each section is filled with rather detailed information, most of which professional bartenders should have at least a little knowledge in, but it also has facts that many do not know that are very interesting. The course is designed to take what you know and build on it - kind of like a master's course - and everyone I have spoken to has gained quite a bit from the experience.

Besides the knowledge, skills and theory that you get from BarSmarts Wired, you receive with your tuition a bag filled with professional bar tools. This bar set is a pretty nice one, not some cheap freebie, and includes a Boston shaker, jiggers, a bar spoon, strainers and a very nice zester. The set alone exceeds what you would pay $42 for and since that is the price of the course.

This is one of the few online bartender programs that is worth the time and effort. You will learn a lot and be able to bring that to your bar to improve customer service.

What Do Others Think?

I've been listening to people who have taken either the live or online course from BarSmarts. Most are serious professional bartenders and journalists who concentrate on cocktails. Most comments are positive, alluding to a refresher course or a deep, intense study.

Camper English (Alcademics.com, has written for MaltAdvocate, San Francisco Chronicle, and too many other publications to list). Camper attended a live BarSmarts Advanced class and will soon take on the BAR 5-Day course.

  • "We did take each of the chapters in advance (spirits basics, spirits categories, mixology basics/history/tools). Then at the live section, we had a short review by the BAR guys, written test (100 questions- much much harder than online questions were), and a live mixology part."
  • "I found the course really interesting...in each section I picked up new information and new perspectives on the categories. I think for more entry level people this will be an intense amount of information, but even pros will likely learn a lot from it. From what I know about those weekend bartending schools, they don't cover most of this type of knowledge...">
  • "I think it's something that will help you elevate your knowledge rather than your status."

Lance Mayhew (blog: My Life on the Rocks, Professional Bartender in Portland, Oregon, and freelance writer)
Lance took and passed the BarSmarts Wired course.

  • "Being a bartender, it wasn't too difficult for me... I did think it was a really good review for me as well as something that I'll recommend to my bar staff. Great value for $42."

Tips for BarSmarts Wired Certification Program

Here are some things that you may find helpful if you decided to enroll in BarSmarts Wired (most are taken from my "First Impressions of BarSmarts Wired Training" blog post).
  • Download and print the pdf's available for each module - I find it easier to study the material offline and like to highlight and make notes.
  • Watch the videos and do the tastings - The videos are taped during a live session and the tastings are meant to explain to your palate what you just read about.
  • Take 1 week for each lesson as they suggest - This gives you enough time to work around your schedule and absorb all of the material.
  • You can't cheat on the test - It is true, there is no option to skip the reading and Google every answer. You have one minute to answer each question or it is wrong (20 of 25 correct is required) and the test is supposed to shut down if you open a new window.
  • Read the questions carefully - There are "trick" questions and there is no going back and erasing your answer. Sixty seconds is plenty of time to thoroughly read and make your choice so don't feel the pressure of the clock and skim the text.
  • Take the test uninterrupted - It only takes about 25 minutes, not too much to ask of the household, right?
  • If you don't pass, try again - The modules are set up so that if you do not pass a quiz, you can retry 24 hours later.
  • Have fun with the virtual bartender - But, do make sure you know those 25 cocktails every bartender should know (the list is somewhat like this one).

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