Algonquin College Bartending Program

With Canada’s hospitality industry increasingly on the lookout for professional, highly-qualified servers and bartenders, Ottawa’s renowned Algonquin College has a prestigious Bartending Program designed to get students to the level required by the ever-growing food and beverage service sector.

Located just off the city’s Nepean district in the thriving suburbs of Ottawa’s west end, Algonquin has been operating for nearly five decades and in 2014 was recognised as one of Canada’s ‘Top 50 Research Colleges’. Such is its cachet and intense focus on technology and workplace needs, each year the college manages to attract over 16,000 students studying in more than 180 programs, and can count amongst its impressive roster of alumni such names as comedian Tom Green and award-winning director and producer Jon Cassar, known for his work on the first seasons of television hits 24 and La Femme Nikita.

Algonquin’s comprehensive Bartending Program is a full-time course run by the School of Hospitality and Tourism at the Ottawa/Woodroffe Campus, where students receive ‘the perfect blend of theory and experience’ via classroom instruction, online modules, a mock ‘bar lab’, and intensive hands-on instruction at a selection of real licensed establishments – nightclubs, restaurants and bars – dotted across the city. Over fifteen weeks during each Fall and Winter, pupils receive five star service training incorporating the basic principles and practices of rigorous bar management, meaning by the end of the course they should be equipped to work anywhere in the trade.

The college course includes numerous modules and training environments and covers a variety of topics, many of which are incredibly in-depth – for example the ‘Communications’ component alone is 45 hours of study, lectures, written exercises and self-reflection – plus more – designed to ensure students acquire the highest possible standards and skills for dealing with others in the workplace. Other sections include ‘Bar Cost Control’, which involves purchasing and receiving procedures, maintaining inventories, beverage recipe costing and software analysis of drinks pricing, ‘Oenology’ where pupils learn about spirit products knowledge – such as methods of production and developing a more nuanced appreciation of liquors, beers and wines – and ‘Bar Law’, ‘Customer Service’ and ‘Mixology’, with the government-standard Smart Serve certification also included.

Such is the complexity of instruction provided – both in terms of detail and time spent learning – that the course adds up to nearly 450 hours of tuition over the fifteen weeks. At the end of the program, and if successful, graduates walk away with an Ontario College Certificate in Bartending, meaning the transition from student to bartender should be a very simple one.

Algonquin describes the course as perfect for those who enjoy the nightclub, hotel beverage and restaurant industry; who are passionate about travel, for example via cruise ship work or employment at holiday resorts; are sociable and possess strong interpersonal skills; and who are seeking to earn – and sometimes earn a considerable amount – almost immediately. However, applicants to the program are minded that it involves numerous fees and add-ons, with mandatory BOYD (‘Bring Your Own Device’ – students must have a laptop, tablet etc. for online learning) and ‘eTextbooks’ sign-up required, with attendant costs, as well as several other supplementary fees (such as IT payments, graduation fees and so forth) on top of the main tuition fees of $1,313.25. It is worth checking the college website before applying because, as well as the monies involved, there are a specific admission requirements listed for eligibility for the course and college itself.

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