Students at Johnson and Wales University Study to Become Professional Bartenders

drinks at a barWhen I turned 21, my friends bought me a variety of alcoholic beverages and a recipe book to help me make common mixed drinks. They told me that my homework assignment was to learn to make the perfect margarita. Of course, this was all just a joke between my friends and me, but for students at Johnson and Wales University, this task really could be the homework assignment given to them by their professors.

Johnson and Wales opened a state-of-the-art laboratory with 20 stations where students can practice all of the skills they would need to become professional bartenders. This includes sinks, glasses, colored waters to mimic various alcohols, and even a working microbrewery. The laboratory is located in the Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence on the school’s Providence, Rhode Island campus.

So are the students learning how to make mixed drinks to help them relax after a hard day in the kitchen? Not exactly.

“Chefs need to be involved with a bar program, especially today with all the interest in cocktails,” said Professor Edward Korry. Korry is in charge of the beverage program. “They have to work hand in hand with the people running the bar.”

In addition to the microbrewery and classes on cocktails, students of this culinary school can also attend elaborate wine courses, which of course have tasting sessions. However, the students are required to spit out the wine unless they are also sampling food pairings to go with the wine. This is all in an effort to help the students become better chefs and bartenders, after all, not just to give them a buzz in class.

“You learn how a drink should look – that means it will be balanced,” said Amanda GIlley, a senior at the school. “Also, the professors were like restaurant managers, so you learn not to overpower or under pour, which will affect the bottom line and how the drink will taste. It’s very exacting.”

For the students who really enjoy these courses, there is a concentrated program that specializes in wine and beverages. Many of the students who follow this path end up securing internships in bars.

“In the hospitality industry it’s the bar where you make your profit,” said Korry. “You have to know the standards and have the skills to succeed. That’s what we teach.”

Via The New York Times

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