Cleveland Bartending School
Will Cobbin had already been teaching for a long time – first in public school, then as a member of staff at a bartending academy – before finally going it alone and opening his own campus called the **Cleveland Bartending School***. That was 1995, and over twenty years later he is still going strong, with more than seven thousand Clevelanders graduating from the school since he first opened its doors to the public.
Located in Ohio’s Cleveland Heights – a stone’s throw from the culture, colleges and hospitals of the City of Trees’ University Circle – the Cleveland Bartending School (CBS) is Cleveland’s only locally-owned and operated training centre for wannabe bar keeps, with a course designed by Cobbin to ensure his graduates become rich pickings for the local hospitality trade. Cobbin himself is no slouch when it comes to tending bar: he has vast experience in the game with fifteen years working behind the wood, has been anointed ‘Director of the Year’ for two consecutive years by the Professional Bartending Schools of America (PBSA), regularly speaks at national conferences, has been a competition judge, and guested as a VIP bartender for various prominent bars and night clubs, including LA’s Hard Rock Café.
Cobbin’s school is a fifteen hundred square foot suite of classrooms and offices tucked off a main thoroughfare between Cleveland Heights and South Euclid. Air conditioned and with a mock bar that is over twenty foot in length, the main teaching area is deliberately styled to simulate a real world bar or cocktail lounge environment and offers everything a student will need to learn the ropes, including glassware, blenders, sinks, beer tap and soda guns. Six individual bartending stations mean students get ample time with the school’s team of instructors, who typically spend around a quarter of each lesson providing lectures and the rest of the time giving constant hands-on supervision as pupils practise what they have just been taught.
The CBS staff are experts at the craft, having worked some of Cleveland’s top bars, clubs and restaurants, and together with Cobbin they aim to train every student to the highest standards. Previous students have gone on to great things, including managing or owning their own establishments or winning the ‘Cleveland’s Best Bartender’ title, while two alumni are now the president and vice president of the United States Bartenders Guild’s Cleveland chapter. The school itself is a long-standing member of the PBSA, the United States’ biggest collective of indie-owned bar schools, and authorized by the Ohio State Board of Career Colleges and Schools.
The school runs a number of courses, from comprehensive training packages to fun workshops. Its ‘Party Bartending Classes’ are an enjoyable way to dip your toes into the world of tending bar and learn some skills to impress friends or family at your next party. There are four different modules, priced at $199, with a choice of ‘Shooters’, ‘Classic Martinis’, ‘Tropical Drinks’ or ‘Margaritas and Sours’; you can opt to take just one of the modules or all four as a package, and the course lasts for sixteen hours over two Sundays. The training is ideal as a gift for couples or as an entertaining friends’ night out, and if you are bitten by the bartending bug you can switch to the campus’ full ‘Professional Mixology Course’ with the ‘Party’ fees and hours credited towards it. As an added bonus, upon completion you are awarded thirty days of job placement assistance should you wish to ‘go pro’ and find work behind a bar.
If you are even thinking of working with alcohol then getting certification or training about your legal responsibilities is a must. This is where courses such as Serv-Safe come in: designed by the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation (NRAEF), Serv-Safe provides workers and managers with the necessary knowledge to safely work with and around alcohol, including customer service and dealing with people who have drunk too much. CBS offers full certification, with a five hour course costing $65 as a standalone class, or Serv-Safe can be folded into its main Mixology program.
The ‘Professional Mixology Course’ ($395) itself is a wide-ranging and immersive series of ten modules totalling forty hours of instruction (classes are four hours in length). Morning, afternoon, night and weekend slots are available, as well as an accelerated option of two classes per day lasting for a week, plus bespoke schedules for people wishing to fit the program around their busy lives – the modules can be taken in any order as they are self-contained learning units. As well as the aforementioned Safe-Serv certification, students will get to grips with a raft of classic and contemporary drinks – one hundred and twenty-five in total – including ‘Tropical Drinks’ such as Long Island Iced Teas and Mojitos, and party shots like Kamikazes and Sex on the Beach. To supplement this, CBS pupils will receive input about wine service, beer, the Guinness ‘Perfect Pour’ system, and further customer service. Instructors aim to ensure that by the time they graduate, students will be able to quickly and professionally – not to mention confidently – prep and mix a whole host of beverages while dealing with waiting customers.
The Cleveland Bartending School’s alumni receive not only lifetime job assistance on a local level, but the chance to go for nationwide openings due to its affiliation with the PBSA – the association has over one hundred campuses across the States and employment opportunities are regularly posted; graduates have found work in prestigious locations such as Ritz Carlton hotels and resorts. And for those seeking to hire staff for their bar or for an event, or even to coordinate the event itself, the school offers a ‘Hire a Bartender’ service along with a party planning facility, where staff or graduates of the school will take care of your every need.
- h1481 Warrensville Center Rd #1, Cleveland