San Diego Masters of Bartending School

A quick internet search for the name ‘Arnie B’ will produce rave reviews for a bartender who has been wowing the San Diego hospitality industry for a good while. Arnold Barkhorn – for it is he – is a highly-skilled operator who had been plying his trade for other bartending schools for years, teaching all over the Southern California city and garnering endless plaudits. Until 2012, that is, when rather than work for others he decided to go it alone and bring the crowds to his own company.

And so San Diego Masters of Bartending School was born. Employing the work ethic and high standards he sets himself, Barkhorn has set out to raise bartending standards across the region, with a focus on ‘speed, show, quality and efficiency’ for the fledgling bar keeps of San Diego. The business is located in the Clairemont Mesa neighbourhood in the north of the city, right next to Mesa Community College and provides full training to people from across the area, from Tijuana in the south to the seaside community of La Jolla in the north.

Operated by parent company Abartender4hire LLC, Masters of Bartending – or the acronym ‘the MOB’, which the owner cheerfully asks you to join – is described as San Diego’s newest, most respected bartending school and boasts the biggest facility in the city, which has played host to numerous local casinos and businesses for their staff training. Its instructors – including Barkhorn – have extensive experience across a broad range of hospitality disciplines, including bar management, senior management and the art of bartending itself, and have starred in numerous corporate training short films covering topics such as ‘bar flair’. Students trained by Barkhorn and co have found employment throughout Southern California, and the company has trained over two thousand individuals from right across the age spectrum – the oldest pupil so far was ninety-four years of age.

The ‘MOB’ and their collective experience are ploughed into a selection of courses, with the ‘Bartending Flair 101’ workshop (currently $150) offering a full ten hours of personal tuition designed to enhance speed, tricks and style for bartenders. You will learn stalls and basic flips, bottle tin tricks and more to impress customers while making drinks and increase those tips.

Its ‘Fun Crash Course’ ($99.99 or $124 with a full kit of bartending equipment) is spread over five classes totalling fifteen hours, and is a laid-back, enjoyable introduction to tending bar where students will learn the fundamentals. While working behind the school’s state of the art mock bar facility, you will be instructed on the history and background of beers, wines and various liquors, practise and create popular drinks such as Martinis, highballs and shooters, and come to understand what glassware matches particular cocktails and the names and uses of various items of bar equipment. A workbook and certification are included, and students can also take part in an optional final test if they wish.

The school’s main program is its ‘Two Week Certifying Course’, a comprehensive, hands-on thirty hours of lectures and training for $280 which provides everything you will ever need to step confidently behind a bar and start working. Full tuition, certification and workbooks are included at the start, with a final speed test and written examination at the conclusion of the fortnight. In between students will undertake numerous modules, with topics such as ‘time delivery’, the theory of liquor, responsible alcohol service and health code compliance, as well as sanitation, opening and closing bar procedures, and tips on how to draw repeat customers and increase your tips. Practical skills include making shooters, cocktails and Martinis, learning and practising multiple cocktail recipes, the correct use of bar tools and pouring techniques. A shorter ‘One Week Certifying Course’ ($199) is also offered and is a fast, hands-on version of the above, but condensed to twenty-five hours to get you certified and working even faster.

In every course students receive input about various other topics, such as the history of cocktails, the California ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) regulations, and the correct layout for a wine bar, while students get free refresher courses, job placement assistance and access to the Abartender4hire LLC website where companies and individuals search for bar staff for their events.

The MOB also runs frequent special offers, for example a ‘Bar Kit Rebate’ where people who have previously bought a Professional Bartending Kit ($50 for various items such as jiggers and shakers) from their affiliate site – ProBarkits – will receive a discount on the cost of any of their courses.

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