The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2016

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Page 46 of 132

46  /  the tasting panel  /  june 2016 EDUCATION by Jesse Hom-Dawson S ommeliers have the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, a certification that acknowledges expertise in wines; there is no equivalent for bartenders in the way of certification, except for that bartending school you went to for a couple hours which showed you how to make a Sex on the Beach. The Bar Institute is here to change that. Developed by Lush Life Productions founder Lindsey Johnson, Bar Institute was born from Portland Cocktail Week, which started up six years ago. It originally began as an event similar to other cocktail-based events, with guest speakers and lecturers. However, according to Johnson, "I saw the need to focus on a lack of career development and an educational sector for the bar trade— whether it was about learning management and consult- ing, exploring different career paths outside of bartending or just taking your career further." Johnson began rounding up industry experts to come share their knowledge and split up the curriculum into three categories: bartending, management and consulting. The program grew from 2,500 attendees to over 5,000 in one year, and Johnson realized she had a hit on her hands. Determined to bring bar education all over the country and not just during cocktail week, she set up Bar Institute programs nationwide, with a total of six stops this year: Baltimore, Phoenix, Austin, Miami, Portland and New York. Johnson laughs, "Two years ago, which was our first year of the official curriculum, we had 200 applications. Now we have 5,000!" The program itself is three days long, but in order to complete their certification, candidates must attend 20 classes over the course of two years, pass basic knowl- edge tests after each region they attend and then complete a research project with their certification advisor. The classes are designed to be regional, taking local trends and brands into account and drawing from national and regional talent to lead the classes. It may sound like a lot of work, but with interesting classes in Phoenix like "The Art of Branding, From Bartender to Supplier" or "The Philosophy of Tiger Mom Bar Management," it's doubtful you'll be falling asleep in class! And all of this is just the beginning. In the future, Johnson envisions "stronger certification and credential programs, a full-time school and potentially an online learning community. I want Bar Institute to positively affect people's careers and help them succeed." Class in a Glass THE BAR INSTITUTE CREATES AN EDUCATIONAL CERTIFICATION PROGRAM FOR BARTENDERS Lindsey Johnson, founder of Lush Life Productions and The Bar Institute. Consultant and Bar Man Willy Shine lectures to a class of students. CREDIT: PHOTOS COURTESY OF LUSH LIFE PRODUCTIONS

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