A former bartender, Vikki Velasquez is a copy editor with expertise in research. She tended bar and worked events at a local country club for two years and has a solid understanding of basic mixology and wine pairings.
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Bartending may seem like an in-situ skill: Indeed, it’s difficult to translate the energy and instruction of an in-person bartending class to a virtual experience. Still, a spate of schools can do just that, offering online bartending classes for home-bound drinkers.
This list includes classes hosted by award-winning mixologists and classes that focus on service skills. Some lessons dive into cocktail history, while others teach students how to build their own drinks.
Most of the below classes are offered at the learner’s own pace, so students can be as noncommittal as they want. Plus, all of these courses are offered completely online, with easy-to-digest instructions and interactive quizzes to test students’ knowledge. Scroll through below and find the one that best suits you.
Created by liquor enterprise Pernod Ricard, BarSmarts is known in the restaurant and bar world as a high-end training hub for exploring the history of cocktails, best practices, and mixology.
Affordable price point
Various modules are appropriate for novice or professional
Participants must complete classes within 60 days
Students have only two opportunities to pass exam
Created and sponsored by Pernod Ricard, the world’s second-largest wine and spirits distillery in the world, BarSmarts provides starter bar knowledge for industry members and cocktail aficionados, covering spirits, classic cocktails, cocktail history, and service management.
Pernod Ricard built a comprehensive online learning platform that can be accessed by any bartending enthusiast, anywhere.
This program kicks off with profiles of every spirits category, covering the history of the spirit, cocktail applications, and guided video tastings. It moves through a compendium of cocktail recipes and a variety of serving techniques, as well as important moments in the history of cocktails. David Wondrich, a renowned authority on the history of cocktails and Editor in Chief, Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails, has been affiliated with the BarSmarts classes.
The course ends with the DrinkBuilder exam. To ace it, bartenders must make four different classic cocktails pulled from previous readings. Participants have two chances to pass each module’s test and 60 days to finish up the full program. If they pass, graduates walk away with a certificate and the opportunity to level up to the advanced course, which has had famous bartender Dale DeGroff and wine and spirits expert Steve Olson as educators.
The course costs $29 and is recommended for anyone from professionals to enthusiasts.
Best Expert Instructors:
Masterclass With Lynnette Marrero & Ryan Chetiyawardana
Masterclasses are an easy and affordable way to gain knowledge about a craft, and this particular 17-session class teaches classic and unique cocktails in an approachable and fun manner.
Content is created in short, digestible lessons
Taught by two of the top mixologists in the world
No certificate or exam upon completion
Available only with Masterclass monthly subscription
The founder of boundary-pushing cocktail bar Dandelyan and a former titleholder of Tales of the Cocktail’s International Bartender of the Year, Ryan Chetiyawardana has teamed up with the award-winning, New York-based bartender Lynnette Marrero and MasterClass for a virtual cocktail course.
The two take turns bouncing through topics, covering everything from practical tips for cocktail making to insights on the industry to stories of their own experience. For example, in one lesson, Marrero covers the history of the craft cocktail movement and the importance of mentorship. In another, Chetiyawardana speaks through his views on why students don’t need fancy ingredients to create a world-class cocktail program.
Through a series of 17 hands-on lessons, Masterclass members learn how to stock a home bar, create a range of party-ready cocktails, and curate a drink menu for any and every occasion.
The lesson plan includes dedicated classes for egg white sours, Old Fashioneds, Martinis, and more, as well as a full lesson on exploring drinkers’ palates.
Students can get access to this and every course on the site for $15 a month (which is billed annually), and perhaps fill their spare time with a cooking class by American chef Alice Waters, a wine class with critic James Suckling, or a creativity class by film director David Lynch.
Offering thousands of courses with both free and paid module options, Udemy's beginner and novice barkeep aspirers will enjoy learning and perusing a plethora of content.
Interesting and unique classes
Students can select their choices a la carte
Subtitles available in a few languages
Certifications only available for paid module
Tools and materials are not included in paid course fee
Individual course fees can quickly add up
Udemy has over 150,000 courses available on the website, from cooking to winemaking to bartending and spirits courses. The bartending selection alone is vast. Bartender Paul Martin—a two-time Guinness World Record holder for speed mixing—offers a crash course in home bartending for $30, complete with sections on garnishes, mixing, and classic cocktail mastery. Carlos Batista, a certified sommelier and spirit specialist, leads a master class on gin for $30. Participants need no prior experience, and the sommelier-author walks viewers through gin types, brands to know, flavors, origins, and cocktails. Batista also leads courses on cordials, vodka, tequila, and more rarefied options.
There are also courses on designing bottle labels and courses on managing bars. There’s even a course on the chemistry of alcoholic beverages. All graduates walk away with a certificate, and courses offer open and direct communication with instructors.
One should note that Udemy’s courses are aimed at those looking for casual courses in the bar world. Most are less than three hours long, and they tend to be aimed at the new or home bartender looking to expand their skills, or beginners just looking to get their feet wet.
Udemy offers courses for free but with those free courses, graduates won’t come out of the course with a certificate or have access to an instructor like in the paid options.
Ananas offers both employers and employees knowledge and training in the hospitality world, with an option to deep-dive into bartending topics such as individual spirits, customer service, and best bar service practices.
Opportunity to use the platform to search for job opportunities
Access to thousands of informational videos and a few certificate programs
Classes are currently available only in English
If account is deleted, student loses course completion records
One part learning platform, one part comprehensive training program, Ananas is a particularly great tool for owners and managers because it brings the skills to automate team onboarding and synchronize training. It doesn’t exclude mixologists, though, since bartenders can use the program to add a certified selection of skills to a resume.
There are two levels to the program: Basics is an excellent place to start, while more experienced students can skip directly to Intermediate. Basic courses cover everything wine and beer to cocktail, bar, and customer service. The Intermediate cocktail class, for example, provides 52 cocktail recipes and how to mix them, while the customer service course covers hosting and how to prepare for guests.
The intermediate program is broken into focused modules—it lets users pick seminars based on areas they want to improve in, and several of the courses are taught by industry leaders. An example is the History of Gin class, taught by Ford’s Gin founder Simon Ford. The class is broken into eight lessons, eight videos, and three recipes. Students will take a deep dive into gin, how it’s made, where it comes from, and how to use it. There’s also an intermediate course in the ever-intimidating topic of wine, led by certified sommelier Ben Moechtar that covers reds, whites, and rosés over 12 lessons and videos.
Ananas offers the usual slate of industry knowledge and history, but there’s also a selection of videos on quirkier topics like how to balance plates on one arm to keep things interesting.
Geared toward professional bartenders, A Bar Above Mixology certification program employs an in-depth approach in order to teach mixologists the art of designing a drink.
Interactive community engagement and mentorship element
Lifetime access to content
Tools and ingredients are not included in fee
Program completion is up to user
Owner and founder Chris Tunstall created A Bar Above with the intention of bringing an advanced cocktail program to bartenders. This isn’t a program for someone with a passing interest in bartending, as it’s designed to take current skills and careers to the next level, with advice on cocktail design and techniques.
However, for newer bartenders or people who want to hone their skills before taking the Mixology certification, A Bar Above has a basics seminar that talks drinkers through making cocktails at home, using bartending tools, and proper mixology technique.
Step one of the mixology program focuses on ingredients, covering everything from what products to use behind the bar to how to get the most out of them in cocktails. Step two takes students through how to balance cocktails and plan out a cocktail on paper. Step three is the two-part certification exam, consisting of a multiple-choice quiz and a practical exam that has participants making an original cocktail using the framework taught in the course.
All materials are taught via HD videos and interactive quizzes. One of the best parts of the program is that it provides virtual community and mentorship opportunities, all via the online platform and chat boards.
The cost of the program is $147, but with that comes lifetime access to the assets, so students can come back anytime to refresh skills, learn tricks from the community, or network.
Created by one of the industry’s leading global spirits manufacturers, Diageo Bar Academy is an invaluable resource for those in the beverage and hospitality realm, teaching students the ins and outs of building a bar; plus, it includes a wellness focus and bar communication skills.
Access to a variety of free resources and materials
Content includes thoughtful strategies on wellness in the industry and non-alcoholic drinks
With so much material, some users may find site confusing
Users may find the games and exams gimmicky
Founded and curated by one of the world’s largest spirits companies, Diageo Bar Academy maps out everything you need to start a bar. The academy started as part of Diageo’s initiative to improve the quality of bar staff. To do this, they tapped industry influencers and experts to bring training programs and drink inspirations to Diageo’s network of bartenders and brand fans.
To date, they have trained tens of thousands of bar staff across the globe, and this large community is one of the biggest draws of the program. Training modules are led by industry leaders, and the academy doubles as a networking hub, connecting bartenders around the globe.
Bar Academy’s modules and courses are designed to cater to bar professionals, and information is useful to different bar styles and staff, as well as establishment owners looking to broaden their bar knowledge. It’s one of the most comprehensive training programs available—there are courses on high-skill techniques, service skills, product knowledge, and business operations.
Their offerings also include well-being and physical health modules that are useful for anyone working in the notoriously hectic and stressful service industry.
There’s a reason members are loyal to the platform—Bar Academy keeps members up to date on news and trends in the industry, which means the service is an invaluable resource for any industry professional.
If you’re striving to learn the proper way to use a Boston shaker, or you want to make yourself a more invaluable bartender at your job, learning essential bartending skills online can make you more knowledgeable and profitable. Overall, BarSmarts was our preferred pick for the best online bartending classes. Created by legendary spirit empire Pernod Ricard, the service is a well-known resource for learning about drink making and is geared toward students at all levels.
What Are Online Bartending Schools?
A virtual or online bartending school is exactly what it sounds like: a virtual classroom, but instead of calculus or biology, you learn the art of great cocktails and how to make them. Usually, these schools are formatted just as they would be if they were offered in person, but adapted for online use. Most classes can be completed on your own, but there are also options for attending online bartending school with a group.
How Much Do Online Bartending Schools Cost?
As a general rule, the cost of ongoing virtual experiences like bar schools depends on the option you choose, and price can, of course, help you decide which school to sign up for. Some schools, such as Diageo Bar Academy and Udemy, have some free classes, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $95 for more premium and in-depth classes, some of which offer a certificate upon completion.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Taking a Bartending Class Online vs. in Person?
When it’s best to stay home, virtual education makes it easier for people who are looking to expand their repertoire of bar skills and knowledge. In-person bartending schools can theoretically provide a more hands-on guided educational experience, however, so that is worth considering as you make your decision.
The offerings on this list teach a range of skills to bartenders of all levels and with varying budgets. Courses cover everything from practical skills to the history of recipes. It was important that each course on this list touch on most, if not all, aspects of bartending—not just making drinks.
We wanted to target a wide range of skills and technical knowledge that bartenders need to thrive, so we included courses that cover topics like beginner wine knowledge or more advanced techniques like working with dry ice. We also wanted to diversify the options based on price and level of commitment. Some courses dive deep into bartending over several hours of classes, while others are free services that can be picked up and dropped at will.