That was some time ago, but it’s fitting
that Briars’ latest enterprise includes set-
ting up a bartender training program for
Bacardi in the U.S. There was a time not
so long ago, as Briars’ experience reminds
us, when bartender training consisted
mostly of the new hire showing up an hour
or so early to get familiar with the bar lay-
out, product mix, rules and regulations and
general decorum expected. More time was
likely spent trying to figure out the POS
system than mastering the cocktail menu.
There’s little doubt among cocktail
cognoscenti that the overall skill level
expected among new employees at craft
cocktail bars today far exceeds that of
any previous era. Supported by numerous
brand-based programs, seminar-rich con-
ferences, traveling brand ambassadors, and
supplier and distributor efforts, the average
bartender working at any level today en-
joys a wealth of opportunities to learn.
The same avidity for cocktail train-
ing may not be at work in most non-craft
oriented bars and restaurants, though
throughout the vast range of American
watering holes, there has been a notice-
able uptick in general knowledge and en-
thusiasm in drink-making.
“It’s great to see so many bartender
training programs out there, and they
How to Train a 21
st
Century Bartender?
Pure knowledge matters, but pro trainers emphasize techniques,
service and efficiency as well
By Jack Robertiello
W
hen bartender Jacob Briars first visited New York City, his
verve to sample the fare at bars and boîtes made famous as
cocktail cathedrals ran smack into a cold and unpleasant
reality. His request for an Algonquin (rye, dry vermouth
and pineapple juice) at the hotel bar of the same name was met by a
blank stare—a typical response from a server accustomed to orders
no more complicated than a Tanqueray and Tonic.
Below: Tanqueray Brand
Ambassador Angus
Winchester leads a session
at the “Tanqueray Ginstitute”
Chicago. Right: Francesco
Lafranconi, the executive
director of mixology and
spirits education for Southern
Wine and Spirits Nevada,
shows how to make a proper
Negroni in Boulder, CO.
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