Orlando Bartending Academy

The US state of Florida is a prime spot for bartending work, with a seemingly endless number bars, lounges and restaurants – not least the ever-expanding Walt Disney and Universal Studios empires – itching for staff with the requisite skills to serve their thirsty customers with style and professionalism. This is where the Orlando Bartending Academy comes in.

Conveniently located to capitalize on this demand, the Orlando Bartending Academy (OBA) headquarters is based in the pretty city of Altamonte Springs just north of downtown Orlando, with a new, second school recently opened in the Winter Park neighbourhood. With over twenty years on the clock, the Academy is now considered to be the number one school of its kind in Orlando with a proud ethos of carrying on the tradition of bartending excellence in the area. Even though Florida boasts a huge number of establishments looking for workers who can tend bar, many of them balk at hiring people with little or no experience – but the Academy’s much-respected certification program provides fledgling bartenders with a jolt to their CV and a very strong platform from where to begin their careers.

The OBA’s co-owners/instructors Kim and Tee offer a variety of classes, and so confident are they in the quality of their curriculum and instruction that they openly welcome interested people to attend regular free ‘Trial Classes’ where prospective students can sit in and watch at the Academy’s well-equipped mock bar as training takes place; there is no pressure to join in or sign up, but people regularly return to attend class after they have visited once.

The Academy’s main course is a forty hour ‘Mixology’ program which costs $595, although the Academy runs various special offers throughout the year, such as its ‘Summer Break’ special where the price is reduced to $349. The program is available as an ‘Accelerated’ option over one week of five days, ‘Part Time’ over two weeks/ten days, and ‘Weekend’ (five consecutive Saturdays), in order to accommodate all-comers, while its ‘Fast Track’ option is crammed into three intensive days at the Winter Park campus but at a reduced cost of $139. The OBA will happily work around you though, with carefully-tailored schedules for anyone who asks for them.

There are slight variations in the modules and topics covered with each option; for example the ‘Part Time’ and ‘Weekend’ selections include the full hit of instruction, with Bartending Certification, Alcohol Awareness training, ‘Working Flair’ seminars, lifetime refresher classes, plenty of practice time and Student/Graduate services as part of the package. The ‘Accelerated’ course has everything bar the Flair seminars, while the ‘Fast Track’ option has it all except the opportunity for lifetime refreshers.

All instruction is undertaken by licensed bartending pros who have been getting their hands dirty for years, and who provide practical, immersive training. The curriculum is comprehensive, and includes input on bar terminology and equipment, beer/wine knowledge, prepping foods and garnishes, cash register handling and training, and setting up/breaking down the bar. Added to these you will undergo instruction on customer service and responsibilities with alcohol, trade secrets to increase your tips, tricks and throws for flair bartending, and learn a broad range of modern and traditional mix recipes to ensure your clients are drinking the very best. Completion of the Mixology course results in students being awarded Bartending Certification, and post-graduation the Academy continues to support its alumni with free lifetime refreshers and lifetime job placement training and online assistance – the OBA is an affiliate of the PBSA (Professional Bartending Schools of America), meaning graduates have a raft of employment possibilities at their fingertips.

Alongside the main Mixology course, the Orlando Bartending Academy runs a handful of mini-workshops such as the ‘Couples Martini Class’ ($120 per couple) which is a fun evening spent concocting a variety of Martinis while snacking on nibbles, while the Working Flair seminar – part of the main Mixology program – is available as a standalone course. Private bartending lessons are also on offer, and can be taken at the Academy or in the comfort of your own home where an instructor will attend with all the equipment and knowledge needed.

The Academy also has a student assistance service for building the perfect résumé, a ‘Hire a Bartender’ offer for people seeking staff for their bar, private party or corporate event and, coming soon, the company is launching ‘Wait Staff Training’ for bartenders seeking to move their serving skills to the next level, with instruction designed to train servers to the standard expected in high end hotels and restaurants.

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