A few weeks ago I was preparing to for the Bar Smarts Advanced Test and as I was going over the information I thought it would be worth sharing my experience with the Bar Smarts Wired Program.

Now that the Bar Smarts Advanced Test is behind me, I again wanted to share my experience regarding that test and offer up a few resources that helped me pass the test.

Let’s Get Ready to …Study!

BarSmarts Advanced Overview:

If you are not familiar with the Bar Smarts Program, check out our previous post on the subject where we go into detail regarding the differences between Bar Smarts Wired, Bar Smarts Advanced and Bar Smarts 5 Day. The biggest detail about the Bar Smarts Advanced is that you need to pass the Bar Smarts Wired in order to be invited to take the Bar Smarts Advanced test.

How do you Prepare for Bar Smarts Advanced?

The material that you are being tested on is the same material that is located in the Bar Smarts Wired program, so watch the videos and download their PDF book. You will need your login information from Bar Smarts Wired, but once you log in you can download the PDF and store it on your phone, laptop and probably even a kindle.

There are a few websites that have prepared Flashcards to help with studying as well.

  • Cram.com
  • Quizlet.com– with some looking around, you can find flashcards that cover the material from each module on this site.

What to Expect the Day of the Test

The event is scheduled for 8 hours, but only a small portion of that time will be spent actually testing. They have broken the day into a little bit of education in the morning, a 30 minute break for lunch. The testing occurs after lunch and it is broken into 2 parts. The first part is a 100 question multiple answer format test in which you have to score above a 65% to pass. There are about 10-15 questions focused on blind tasting 3 spirits.

After the written portion of the test you will need to sign up for the live bartending test. For this test you will have 9 minutes to make 3 classic cocktails from the list of 25 classic cocktails that they provide in the reading material. You will be evaluated not only on using the correct recipe and proportions, but also technique. The fun part is one you don’t know which cocktails you will be asked to make, and you have no idea who your judge is going to be. My judge happened to be David Wondrich, and he was sitting only a few feet away from me carefully watching each measurement.

A Few Tips for Bar Smarts Advanced

  • Breakfast is provided, so get there a little early if you want to have a cup of coffee and a pastry. As far as the food goes, think continental breakfast.
  • Lunch is provided as well. For our event we had a few selections of different sandwiches and plenty of beverages.
  • You will be drinking spirits and cocktails during the event, so plan accordingly.
  • If you have to leave early for work, tell the event coordinator when you register and you will have the option of taking the live portion of the test first, followed by the written test.
  • The speakers will not be reviewing any information that will be on the test, so be prepared before you arrive.
  • There are tools provided at each bar station for the live bartending exam, but you can bring your own tools if you prefer.
  • They want you to pass the test, so be prepared and have fun. There is a few opportunities to meet other bartenders in your area and you will probably see a few coworkers from previous jobs there as well. I’m guessing, but there were probably around 120 bartenders at my testing location.

My Final Thoughts on Bar Smarts Advanced

I found the event really valuable and each speaker talks a little about their area of expertise. There is a big focus on customer service, history of cocktails, tools that we use in the industry and my favorite section, the spirit tasting. In this section Doug Frost and Steve Olson taste a few different spirits with you and focus on how the spirit changes and evolves on your palette. This was a great experience and took up the most time during the live seminar.

The biggest drawback for me was the fact that you are being tested on exactly the same information that is covered in Bar Smarts Wired. The only real difference between them is that the Advanced Test includes a blind tasting portion and the bartending test is in person instead of a virtual simulation.

For the price ($30 at the time I tested), I would recommend it. The spirits evaluation with Doug Frost and Steve Olson was worth the price of admission for me. Throw in some cocktails, breakfast and lunch, and it is worth every penny.

If you would like to learn more about bartending I highly recommend the Bar Smarts programs. On the other hand, if you would like to learn more about the theory of making drinks and designing them from scratch, you may prefer our online Mixology Certification Program.

One last special shout out to the awesome people I met at Bar Smarts Advanced: It was great to meet you in person Cody, Gregory, Matt and everyone else that I had a chance to hang out with. I’d love to get your thoughts on the Bar Smarts Advanced Test!

Chris Tunstall

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.