Yes! I got my bartender certification online, and I couldn’t be happier with the experience. It was convenient, as I could study and take quizzes at my own pace.
Still, the certification program also helped me understand bartending and customer service, which has been invaluable in my job as a bartender.
Do You Need a Bartender Certification?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to go about getting a bartender certification online, let’s first answer the question: do you actually need one? In short, it depends on your state. Some states that require a bartending license include: Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Alaska, New Mexico, and Nevada.
If you live in one of these states and plan on bartending without a license, you could face penalties for not having or renewing your license or certification. For example, in Washington state, bartenders caught serving alcohol without a MAST permit can be fined up to $500. In Oregon, there’s a two-part process to serving alcohol.
While there’s no mention of fines for not completing it, the state has a long list of qualifications to bartend in the state. Alaska requires testing through approved courses only. You can take them online, but only through the state portal.
So How Do You Go About Getting Certified?
As mentioned above, one of the most convenient ways is to do it online. Many bartending certification programs will allow you to study at your own pace and take quizzes to test your knowledge. Here are a few courses available:
One of the best online bartending certification programs I’ve found is called Crafty Bartending. They offer a comprehensive and easy-to-use online course covering everything from customer service basics to alcoholic beverage knowledge. They even have a comprehensive Bartenders Field Manual available in digital format.
This is a great resource to have on hand, as it covers everything from bar etiquette to cocktails recipes. It only takes 2-3 hours to complete, and the certification is valid for three years. Once you’ve completed the course and passed the final exam, you’ll be issued a certification.
BarSmarts is one of the best online bartending certification programs available. They offer a comprehensive course that covers everything from customer service to mixology. It offers three programs: BarStarts, BarSmarts, and Staff Certified.
If you’re new to bartending, start with the BarStarts, perfect for beginners, and then move to the BarSmarts, which offers a more comprehensive and in-depth course.
What Do Online Bartending Courses Cover?
Online bartending courses will cover all the basics of serving alcohol, including:
The Different Alcoholic Beverages and How They’re Made
This is the most apparent portion of an online bartending certification. Expect to learn about the different alcohol and how they’re made, and their essential characteristics. For example, my favorite lesson was learning about the different types of whiskey and how they’re made.
Customer Service Basics
While we often see bartending as a fun and “easy” job, it still requires excellent customer service skills. You’ll learn all the basics of being a perfect host or hostess at your bar, including how to greet customers, handle complaints, and upsell drinks.
State and Local Laws
Depending on your state, there may be different laws regarding alcohol service that you’ll need to know. For example, in Washington state, all bartenders must have a MAST permit before serving alcohol. You want to choose a certification program that focuses on your specific state’s laws.
I suggest when you search, add your state to the criteria to get a list of programs that cover your specific state laws.
The Different Types of Bar Equipment
You don’t need to be a mixologist to be a bartender, but it helps to know your way around a bar. In this portion of online bartending courses, you’ll learn about the different bar equipment and their use. You can be the hero that knows precisely how to make their drink of choice!
This is helpful because customers often ask for something specific and assume you know what it is. For example, I once had a customer ask for an “Old Fashioned.” I didn’t know what that was at first, but luckily, I remembered from my online bartending certification course that it was just whiskey, sugar, bitters, and a cherry.
How to Pour Drinks Right
There’s a fine art to pouring drinks, and you want to make sure you know how to do it properly. After all, no one wants a watered-down drink! You’ll learn the proper techniques for measuring alcohol and how to pour different beverages. This is an excellent example of when you need this knowledge in dealing with a keg.
Kegs are a pain to change, so you want to make sure you don’t over-pour. Luckily, my online bartending certification course taught me how to pour the perfect pint every time.
Basic First Aid and Responsible Alcohol Service
Another important aspect of bartending is safety. You want to help customers if they need it, but you also need to ensure that the customer doesn’t become drunk or violent. An online bartending certification should cover how to handle various situations and stay calm in an emergency.
Overall, I highly recommend getting your bartending certification online. It’s a convenient way to study at your own pace and review the material as often as possible. And it’s a great way to ensure that you have all the knowledge and skills you need to be a great bartender.
Bar Terms and Jargon
One thing I didn’t realize before taking an online bartending course was how many bar terms and jargon I didn’t know. For example, did you know that “neat” means a shot of liquor served without ice cubes or mixers? Another term that surprised me was “floater,” a shot of liquor poured over the top of a mixed drink.
There are dozens of terms like this that you’ll learn in an online bartending course. And, trust me, knowing the terminology will make you seem more professional and knowledgeable to customers.
As I mentioned before, safety is a big part of bartending. You’ll learn how to spot signs of intoxication and how to cut people off from drinking. You’ll also know what to do if there is a fight or other emergency.
It’s essential to know these things because, as a bartender, you handle the safety of both customers and staff. Once, I had a customer who was intoxicated and choking. Luckily, my online bartending certification program taught me to perform the Heimlich maneuver without panicking.
I was able to save the customer and prevent a potentially disastrous situation.
The Business Side of Bartending
Besides learning about the technical aspects of bartending, you’ll also learn about the business side. This includes things like how to stock a bar, handle money, and make sure the bar is running smoothly. Bartending is a fun and exciting industry, but it’s also important to remember that it’s a business.
That’s why an online bartending certification course should teach you about the business side of things. Take a class I did, and it helped me land my current bartending job.