Midwest Bartenders School

Since it opened its doors in 1993, the Midwest Bartenders School has grown in stature to become Indiana’s premier bartending academy. A big part of its success has been its emphasis on providing the very best training available to its students – with a healthy dose of fun. The fact that it is enjoyable and you can earn great money, according to the school’s owner Richard Devlin, plays a huge part in why bartending is becoming increasingly popular during a period when the economy is sluggish.

Tucked amongst the hustle and bustle of Indianapolis’ East 86th Street in the shopping and hospitality mecca of the Indiana capital’s Castleton district, its campus – part of the Professional Bartending School of America group which trains an average of nine thousand bar keeps each year – hosts students from a variety of surrounding towns and cities, including Bloomington, Evansville and Fort Wayne. The Midwest Bartenders School (MBS) is fully accredited by the state’s Board for Proprietary Education and has an ‘A Plus’ rating and is a Gold Star winner with the Better Business Bureau.

MBS contains a modern, well-equipped mock ‘cocktail lounge’ bar facility in its school and pushes hands-on, intensive training so that students come away with the bar skills and understanding of what it takes to work in the hospitality world. Class sizes are kept small and intimate – typically with a maximum of fifteen students – in order to focus on one-to-one supervision via Devlin’s team of professional instructors, and the school proudly boasts of a ninety-seven percent pass rate – the highest in the industry. Many of MBS’ alumni have gone on to work numerous high-profile and prestige events, such as the Indianapolis 500 and the Kentucky Derby, as well as finding employment in many of the city’s biggest bars and restaurants.

Midwest has several courses and workshops available to the public, the first of which is the short Alcohol Awareness Class. $25 gets you a two hour seminar designed to teach the fundamentals of Indiana’s compulsory server training, and is a must if you are planning to work with or around alcohol.

The flagship course is Midwest’s ‘Professional Mixologists (Bartending) Program, a forty hour curriculum of ten four-hour lessons spread over two weeks, or three consecutive full weekends. The various modules will turn the greenest of bartending wannabes into a confident, skilled bartender-in-waiting: students will learn how to prep over two hundred cocktails, the workings of the bar itself (including equipment, cleaning, the tools you will use, and setting up or ‘breaking down’ at closing time), garnishes, making mixes, as well as bar lingo, customer service and the legal side of working with and selling alcohol. The program is split between lectures and practical lessons, with plenty of time spent behind the bar at the campus.

The ‘Bar Management Course’ is aimed at people seeking to run or own their very own watering hole. The program is designed to provide you with the skills to be a successful business owner, managing a number of staff and taking care of the day-to-day minutiae which you will have to contend with. Banking, cash flow, inventory and ordering, dealing with vendors and sales representatives, loss prevention techniques and handling employees are all covered, while prospective managers will also learn about arranging entertainment, advertising/promotions, and designing your bar and drinks menus.

The school runs two smaller workshops in its ‘Bar Flair’ and ‘Beer and Wine’ courses. ‘Bar Flair’ teaches you the moves and methods for making patrons applaud your drinks-making skills as you toss and flip bottles and glasses, carry out magic tricks and generally wow everyone waiting for their drinks. The ‘Beer and Wine’ workshop will give graduates the essential knowledge they need – via the history of the drinks, wine and beer tasting, studying flavour profiles, and input from expert guest speakers – to confidently serve people in even the most upmarket of surroundings.

Once graduated, Midwest’s work doesn’t cease for its ex-students. Lifetime job placement assistance is provided, with both local and national positions listed on their website (exclusive to MBS students and alumni), while refresher courses are always available if you feel you’re getting rusty. For anybody who doesn’t pass the practical or written sections of the Mixologist program, free re-sits are available and for as many times is as necessary to pass. And for those who do graduate, the school has an ‘Alumni Club’ where, for a small annual fee, get-togethers are arranged and special offers and discounts provided for many of Indianapolis’ top establishments.

Finally, for those wishing there was somebody else to assist with the heavy lifting at their birthday or corporate event, Midwest Bartenders School offers both ‘Bartender Hire’ where they provide staff, and an ‘Event Facility’ where their affiliate, ‘The Picasso Room’, can be hired out for parties.

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