You’re sitting at home enjoying a cocktail and as you admire your handiwork a thought crosses your mind: “This is good…really good. I bet people would pay me to fix them a drink.” The idea is fleeting, disappearing before the ice melts in your glass, but you’re not alone—many drinkers share the fantasy of becoming a professional mixologist or distiller. So, how do you land a spirited job?
It’s more than possible to go from serious home bartender to pro. A common route is to find a job as a barback at a fine establishment and work your way up. Get a head start by taking a mixology class like the ones at Bourbon & Branch’s Beverage Academy in San Francisco, or enroll in the new Bar Academia in New York City, which offers an intensive 50-hour beginners’ course. The school is headed by Dushan Zaric, a Liquor.com advisor and co-owner of Employees Only and Macao Trading Co. (If you’re interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Many spirits brands hire ambassadors to travel around the world making drinks, giving tastings and promoting their liquor. Generally, you have to be an expert bartender to score one of these coveted positions, but Belvedere Vodka is currently running a Dream Job contest that will award one lucky entrant a $100,000 brand ambassador contract.
Getting a job at a distillery is very tough. It helps to have a degree in science or some experience brewing beer or making wine, but neither is a prerequisite. Try to find a distillery that will take you on as an intern. Dry Fly Distilling in Spokane, Wash., even runs a school, and the American Distilling Institute offers a six-day workshop in Petaluma, Calif.