【DE】Bar education – ways to the perfect cocktail experience

Albert Einstein once said: “Fantasy is more important than knowledge, because knowledge is limited.” And yet he also refers to two central components for mixing delicious drinks. Creativity at the counter contains a wealth of pleasures and diversity. But the knowledge and insights from the basic bar basics to the advanced techniques and facts should first mean the backbone of bartending.




A variety of training opportunities for bartenders


What great opportunities for training and inspiration are available to the bartender community today. The older ones may still remember the rather narrow bookshelves with the textbook of Harry Schraemli’s bar and then Schumann’s Bar Book, with which probably every barmaid and bartender of the 1990s prepared his recipes. Only the strange old hands had a Savoy Bar book or a crown bag from the 1920s or even the German-language original work of Leybold and Schönfeld, the lexicon of drinks from 1913.




Recovery in the 2000s


The 2000s then brought new impetus to beardending. In particular, by returning to the beginnings of the profession and the historical development of beverage genres and famous recipes. The book “Imbibe!” by David Wondrich from 2007 and “Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails” by Ted Haig from 2009 affected bartenders and bar concepts. Suddenly, the names of Jerry Thomas and Harry Johnson were not only known in the bar world as the forefathers of cocktail art, but pre-prohibition cocktails and classic short drinks were given a new stage. New bar concepts were aligned with this and the bar diversity grew, albeit backwards in terms of time. But that retrospective into history revived forgotten drinks and Aviation, Hanky Panky, Martinez and Vieux Carré were back on numerous cards. The Cosmopolitan recipe from 1934 also provided an exciting contrast to the sex-and-the-city favorite drink. Countless guests marveled at so much innovation at the counter and enthusiastically followed the bartenders on the new paths.




Urge for knowledge and exchange in the industry


The need for further training and joint exchange arose from the bartending scene itself. This is how the Mixology Magazine for Bar Culture was created in 2003. The small-format first edition (also called cranberry edition) was the beginning of an important, innovative and controversial accompanying medium of the beverage industry. The first core topics and calls were: “Press fresh lemon juice!” Hard to believe today, but 20 years ago it was not a matter of course.


Bartender formed networks in various cities and regions, such as the Vienna Bar Community or the Munich Barzirkel, and together they ensured exchange and further training and with the Bar Convent Berlin an opportunity for supra-regional networking was created in 2007. At that time as the smallest event in an outbuilding of Arena Berlin. Today a significant international bar show with thousands of products and hundreds of speakers.




It has to be professional


The need for professionalization had come. Bartenders were not only more secondary students. Bartenders became bartenders to be bartenders. Training became more urgent every day. Especially since during the classic training in the field of HoFa or ReFa, the topic of spirit or mixed drinks played a very neglected role and still plays partly today.


Meanwhile, the Internet had also found its way into the bar world as a matter of course and the blogosphere enriched the scene. Excited like lightning bows, many bartenders expected the next entry in Jörg Meyer’s bar building blog, which is still worth reading today and at the same time historic. To this day, one of the most educational and charming cocktail blogs on the history of drinks is the Bar-Vademecum Blog with interesting facts for the educational drinker.




Beverage industry supports training and exchange


The beverage industry also recognized the need for networking and training. Since then and to this day, bartenders have been able to fall back on a great range of training and educational opportunities. Some ideal for young professionals, others with special knowledge also for old hands and hares. In addition, there are exchange programs and trips with incomparable impressions that have a long formative effect.


Bartenders always enthusiastically report on the experiences of such events as the Campari Workshop, The Blend by Beam Suntory, Hubertusrat von Jägermeister, Havana Club Academia del Ron, Learning for Life by Diageo. Not to mention the countless seminars of brand ambassadors who present and promote their products. At times, the masterclasses seemed to have such an (over-) economy before Corona that it seemed almost tiring. Today, after countless zoom events, everyone is looking forward to the personal meeting and the exchange at the events. This was recently demonstrated in particular by the Bar Symposium Cologne, which developed network and professional exchange from within the bar scene.




German Bartender Union brings a breath of fresh air


The German Bartender Union e.V. (DBU) is currently repositioning itself and recognizing the need for further training in the scene (we reported). The 2017 initiative may be considered groundbreaking, when the DBU published the “The Bar Handbook for Beginners” in order to convey at least uniform cocktail recipes in classical training through vocational schools. Fresh wind under white bar jackets. Gone are the days of the dusty Old Lord Guild with the Hahn coat of arms. With various formats and a fresh, committed team, the DBU develops into a helpful and sympathetic player in the scene. Non-product-bound and with an inexhaustible pool of professionals, whether on the subject of design, sensors, concept or techniques.


Furthermore, the following applies: training, tasting, networking, celebrating. What a wonderful four-sound!

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