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BarSmarts Cocktail School


Troy Sidle
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I have not seen the program. Is there any way you can tell us of the teaching style with out infringing on copyrighted material?

Is it video? Are there tests?

I guess I am asking is how they deal with cocktail theory, spirit knowledge, technique, ect.

Thanks,

Toby

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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I have not seen the program.  Is there any way you can tell us of the teaching style with out infringing on copyrighted material?

Is it video?  Are there tests?

I guess I am asking is how they deal with cocktail theory, spirit knowledge, technique, ect.

Thanks,

Toby

There are two aspects to the program. There is study material and there will be a class in certain cities with the BAR partners (Wondrich, DeGroff, et al) as they travel the country.

It gives an overview of "mixology", everything from the history of alcohol production to practical things like how to handle cash behind the bar.

The study material consists of DVDs and a workbook. It's designed to be a four week program each week culminating with an online quiz. Passing the quizzes is required for attending the class.

Here in Chicago, we'll have the class on April 22.

The website barsmarts.com has more information.

Toby, as for cocktail theory and technique, I'm not sure yet. I'm still on the history and breakdown of spirits.

Edited by Troy Sidle (log)
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I just got my BarSmarts package in the mail a few days ago. I'm in the middle of the course and already I have mixed feelings about it.

Anyone completed the program?

I got a chance to do the program when it was in San Francisco. I got the impression that it was tailored to folks who have substantial experience working behind the stick, but are either new to, or trying to capitalize on, this "new" trend toward culinary cocktail and otherwise high-end drinks. The history is well put-together and concise, but pretty redundant (and cursory) if you've at least read Imbibe. That said, it's long and detailed enough that I can imagine that it might try the patience of someone who's not geeking out over mixology.

The info on spirits production and history did fill some gaps in my knowledge, and I would expect they would do the same for most people already in the business. This was my favorite part of the course, and the part that they spent the most time on at the live class.

The service part was kind of wasted on me, not working behind the bar. That said, it was nice to get a sense of all of the other business that your bartenders have to worry about in addition to simply making a great drink.

The recipes are a good intro to making a good sampling of classic drinks, with a nod to the popular, for people who might be used to shortcuts like [shudder] sour mix. If you're taking the course it's worth knowing (and I don't think it's any sort of spoiler) that in the practical exam you're free to use your own ratios as long as the drink you produce is well-balanced. I wasted a lot of time trying to remember the recommended ratios for drinks like the daiquiri or the margarita that were different than the ratios I prefer.

All-in-all I enjoyed the program, and got quite a bit out of it, even though I don't believe I was the target audience. I think it's particularly well-designed for introducing working professionals to classic mixology and spreading the word of the culinary cocktail. My two cents.

I don't believe that there's anything sufficiently comprehensive in what I've offered above that it might infringe on any copyrights, but I'm glad to edit/remove any of this if any of the copyright holders or their surrogates disagree.

Edited by organicmatter (log)
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I have not seen the program.  Is there any way you can tell us of the teaching style with out infringing on copyrighted material?

Is it video?  Are there tests?

I guess I am asking is how they deal with cocktail theory, spirit knowledge, technique, ect.

Thanks,

Toby

There are two aspects to the program. There is study material and there will be a class in certain cities with the BAR partners (Wondrich, DeGroff, et al) as they travel the country.

It gives an overview of "mixology", everything from the history of alcohol production to practical things like how to handle cash behind the bar.

The study material consists of DVDs and a workbook. It's designed to be a four week program each week culminating with an online quiz. Passing the quizzes is required for attending the class.

Here in Chicago, we'll have the class on April 22.

The website barsmarts.com has more information.

Toby, as for cocktail theory and technique, I'm not sure yet. I'm still on the history and breakdown of spirits.

So the class on the 22nd will it be with Wondrich, Degroff...(Olsen?) face to face? The website says a full day of seminars ect. Do they imply hoe that works? That list is some very busy men. If it is them that is very, very cool. Just being in the same room as them and being able to ask questions is worth it.

And if that is the case, will there be cocktails? And then who's shaking.

Toby

Edited by Alchemist (log)

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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I'm 99% sure this is the class the local Republic rep was supposed to being me back some info on a few weeks ago, of course he never did and I couldn't get a hold of him as the deadline to register came and went. At the time I didn't know what was at stake, now I'm really going to have to rake him over the coals. It's like backstage passes to the cocktail rock concert!

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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So the class on the 22nd will it be with Wondrich, Degroff...(Olsen?) face to face?  The website says a full day of seminars ect.  Do they imply hoe that works?  That list is some very busy men.  If it is them that is very, very cool.  Just being in the same room as them and being able to ask questions is worth it.

And if that is the case, will there be cocktails?  And then who's shaking. 

Toby

That's right Toby. When I did the class (in San Francisco) it was a full day with Paul Pacult, Dave Wondrich, Dale DeGroff, Steve Olsen, Andy Seymour, and Doug Frost. There was a lecture/Q&A portion (including a blind spirits tasting), a written exam on spirits, history etc. (all the stuff covered in the take-home materials) and then a "practical" exam, where we were asked to prepare three cocktails. Here are links to a couple of my photos from the San Francisco live event:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/organicmatter/3039739073/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/organicmatter/3039739243/

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I just got my BarSmarts package in the mail a few days ago. I'm in the middle of the course and already I have mixed feelings about it.

Anyone completed the program?

I got a chance to do the program when it was in San Francisco. I got the impression that it was tailored to folks who have substantial experience working behind the stick, but are either new to, or trying to capitalize on, this "new" trend toward culinary cocktail and otherwise high-end drinks. The history is well put-together and concise, but pretty redundant (and cursory) if you've at least read Imbibe. That said, it's long and detailed enough that I can imagine that it might try the patience of someone who's not geeking out over mixology.

The info on spirits production and history did fill some gaps in my knowledge, and I would expect they would do the same for most people already in the business. This was my favorite part of the course, and the part that they spent the most time on at the live class.

The service part was kind of wasted on me, not working behind the bar. That said, it was nice to get a sense of all of the other business that your bartenders have to worry about in addition to simply making a great drink.

The recipes are a good intro to making a good sampling of classic drinks, with a nod to the popular, for people who might be used to shortcuts like [shudder] sour mix. If you're taking the course it's worth knowing (and I don't think it's any sort of spoiler) that in the practical exam you're free to use your own ratios as long as the drink you produce is well-balanced. I wasted a lot of time trying to remember the recommended ratios for drinks like the daiquiri or the margarita that were different than the ratios I prefer.

All-in-all I enjoyed the program, and got quite a bit out of it, even though I don't believe I was the target audience. I think it's particularly well-designed for introducing working professionals to classic mixology and spreading the word of the culinary cocktail. My two cents.

I don't believe that there's anything sufficiently comprehensive in what I've offered above that it might infringe on any copyrights, but I'm glad to edit/remove any of this if any of the copyright holders or their surrogates disagree.

I had some trouble with the online quizes. It seemed like there were questions asked that didn't have answers in the study guide. Did you run into that at all?

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I had some trouble with the online quizes. It seemed like there were questions asked that didn't have answers in the study guide. Did you run into that at all?

Yeah, there are some serious bugs in the online quizzes. Not only were there questions that didn't have answers in the study guide, often there would be questions from other chapters.

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Just coming to this thread after a couple of weeks on the road.

A couple of things.

1) Troy and notahumanissue, If I could prevail on you to take a few minutes and email email me (through eG) the questions that don't track, if you've got a record of them, I would be greatly appreciative. BarSmarts is a pretty complicated program to assemble and coordinate, and occasionally things get misaligned; we've caught a couple of the wrong quiz questions, but it would be very helpful to know if there are more out there that we're overlooking.

2) Organicmatter sums the program up very well. It's neither meant as the ultimate master class nor as an entry-level orientation. It's for professional bartenders who want to be able to prove it; to get certified. The instruction materials are our way of making sure that everyone's on the same page.

3) Yes, every Live day we've got scheduled will feature all six BAR partners--Dale DeGroff, Doug Frost, Steve Olson, Paul Pacult, Andy Seymour and myself. Plus a number of top-flight bartenders from around the country to help with judge the practical exam.

4) No cocktails until AFTER the test. Except in Toby's case.

aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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  • 4 months later...

BarSmarts now has an online only version called BarSmarts Wired, and I'm really enjoying it. The historical material is really well written (I detect Wondrich's hand in there) and so far the information has been interesting, if not always entirely new to me. Having said that, as a home (over)enthusiast, I'm not exactly the target audience.

However, since this online version doesn't require an invite (unlike, I believe, the main BarSmarts program), I think it's a good deal for someone like me: $45 for some swag, the course, and a bit of pride post hoc.

Back to studying gin. (20 years of formal education and I've never been able to write those words.)

ET fix link -- CA

Edited by chrisamirault (log)

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Finished up the course and passed the final exam. I can't speak for anyone else, but I found the course really fantastic, not only for brushing up on old skills and knowledge, learning some new tricks, and -- for this home enthusiast -- learning a ton in Module 4 about quality bar operation.

Like others here, I also found a (very) few burps in the online material, but I found that the help desk team was extremely responsive to and appreciative of all of my feedback. The written materials are outstanding, and though I hate tests more than puncture wounds, the test questions were nearly always fair.

Finally, as someone gearing up to teach my own cocktail course, I was glad to participate in a very high quality program and learned a lot about how they approached this vast topic.

I can't say whether cocktailian pros would learn too much from it, but I would definitely recommend it for anyone who wants to get their bar staff up to speed quickly. You could, for example, supplement the online components with in-house trainings, tastings, and so on. And, for other home obsessives like me, it's just great.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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For Chris or anyone else who has taken the on-line course, where's the bloody login screen? I'm through module 1, but my browser history reset, and no I can't for the life of me figure out how to sign back in to continue...

 

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I received my bag full o' bar tools today. While some of it is a bit more, shall I say, economical than one is predisposed to after building up a decent home bar (hawthorne strainer, I'm looking in your direction), overall I was delighted to receive perfectly serviceable spares of some valuable items (mixing tin, barspoon, jiggers, and the like). When you consider the cost of all of these, the course fee is even more reasonable.

 

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  • 7 months later...
  • 2 years later...
  • 1 year later...

I'm just about done with the Wired course. All that's left is to do the drink builder and then I get my certificate.

 

The history and detail is cool, although as Señor Amirault mentioned above, it has a heavy Wondrich-ness to it, a lot of which I suspect is mirrored in his books (none of which I own, only have glanced through Imbibe!).

 

The bit about how to taste I thought was VERY helpful - never did I think I could taste room temp. Beefeater and get anything out of it except "GAH this is warm gin, BLEH!" but lo and behold, I was detecting lemon, black pepper, etc, apart from the base juniper. I also learned some useful information about various French brandies that I was unfamiliar with. As Chris mentioned, the "how to run your bar" thing was helpful, although brief.

 

The rest was stuff that the regulars of the Spirits & Cocktails forum probably know in their sleep. The how-to section, and the "25 drinks you must know"  have mostly been discussed to death here.  Also I feel that it's a bit dated. It's what, about 5 years since the material came out, and, for example, there isn't a single decent bar I know of that doesn't use fairly fresh juices at this point (there is a section on "how to convince your bar to use fresh juice").

Edited by Hassouni (log)
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