As I mentioned before, the Beverage Alcohol Resource program (BAR) provides a series of courses for bartenders, spirit professionals, journalists, and now enthusiasts to learn more about booze and bartending. They offer BARSmarts Wired, BARSmarts Advanced, the five-day BAR, and they just launched a Master's level program with a thesis project for BAR graduates.
The BARSmarts program is sponsored by Pernod-Ricard. Beam Global is getting in on the training action also, partnering with the United States Bartenders' Guild (USBG) to announce their own set of credentialing.
The new USBG Master Accreditation Program is offered in three levels, and non-USBG members can take these tests also (though it's a lot more expensive).
- USBG Spirits Professional - passing a written test on spirit categories
- USBG Advanced Bartender - passing an additional practical bartending exam after the written one
- USBG Master Mixologist - after the other two series, completing a thesis project
Though it seems like the BAR and USBG programs are the same, there are differences as I learned at a recent USBG meeting. Liz Edwards of the USBG said though most of the goals are the same- raising the level of education of the bartending community- but as a union of bartenders they are further concerned with the profession of bartending.
The USBG has two goals related to that. The first is to get the USBG credential system accredited by the US government. The second is to get bartending recognized as a profession by the labor control board. (I am not sure what category it's in now, but I guess it's not considered in the same way other respected jobs are.)
The other important thing to note is that the BAR is a study program with tests at the end, whereas the USBG program has no official study guide. They encourage bartenders to get involved with the USBG and for USBG chapters to host educational events that will help raise the level of knowledge and professionalism of all bartenders in the area.