You don’t actually need bartending courses or any formal training to become a bartender, but it sure does help to understand how to make mixed drinks before you start on this career path.

Bartender pouring a cocktail by helena lopes via

Photo by Helena Lopes via

And while you can get past the basic knowledge of bartending on your own over years and years, it requires a lot of time, research, reading, practice making delicious cocktails, and searching the internet for answers.

Honestly, you’ll probably still want to do much of that anyway, but having concentrated information all in one place, like online mixology classes, is certainly a helpful start.

Each state has its own requirements for being able to take on a bartending job, and you usually don’t need an actual bartending license– although you may have to complete online classes about serving alcoholic drinks. Make sure to look into your state’s laws before going down this career path.

Bartenders working in a cocktail bar by Taylor Davidson via unsplash

Photo by Taylor Davidson via


Work Experience to Learn Bartending Skills

One way to gain this knowledge is to work in the hospitality industry, maybe as a server or bar back before moving up into a bartending position. If you can get a job in a nicer cocktail bar where they make craft drinks, all the better.

There are a lot of useful skills you can learn this way, such as excellent customer service, becoming familiar with a seasonal drink menu, making amazing cocktails, and learning to properly use mixology tools like a cocktail shaker.

On-the-job training and bartending experience will certainly help you refine your general mixology techniques, but if you want to advance past the soft skills of mixing basic alcoholic beverages and really learn the art form of mixology, you’ll still want to find an educational platform, such as a virtual mixology class. 

Muddling fresh mint in a cocktail

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Bartending School

Here, you’ll learn how to make classic cocktails– memorizing cocktail recipes in a more social setting in-person and the basic methods of making a cocktail. 

Along with the bartending fundamentals like how to use bartending equipment and what type of cocktail to serve in which glass, perhaps you’ll also learn the basics of mixology– flavor combinations and some fancier techniques– but this will probably only take you to the level of average mixology at best, if we’re being honest.

And while you can take cocktail courses from an online bartending school, we recommend going to a brick-and-mortar location where you can get hands-on experience and feedback about your skills.

Bottle of whiskey in a gift bag for a holiday present

Photo by Taylor Brandon via

Mixology Kits

You can also order mixology kits to play around with, in conjunction with your online mixology lessons or studying up on your own. You can order one kit from a variety of sites or get a monthly cocktail box for ongoing challenges.

These alone probably won’t be enough, but they’re fun to use while you’re advancing your career in bartending.

Cocktail codex cocktail book

Stock photo courtesy of Ten Speed Press

Cocktail Books

Of course, there’s a lot of knowledge to be gained from pouring through books, such as learning cocktail history and practicing modern cocktail recipes. 

Books will help you advance your level of knowledge on a wide range of subjects like essential skills, flavor profiles, and how to make popular drinks. But again, you’ll need to pair this with lots of practice, whether it’s in-person experience or online cocktail classes. 

Pouring a drink on a bar by Jia Jia Shum

Photo by Jia Jia Shum via

Online Mixology Course

Once you have some preliminary cocktail knowledge– maybe you’re already a professional bartender– you’ll want to advance your formal education and expand your knowledge of ingredients, the history of mixology, and how to make your own original cocktails.

Online courses are a way to work at your own pace and refine your mixology skills. In a focused online mixology class that highlights the cocktail-making process, you can really delve into a deeper understanding of flavor profiles, knowledge of cocktail ingredients, advanced techniques, creating your own innovative drinks, and elevating the guest experience. 

Spraying a cocktail by Artem Pochepetsky

Photo by Artem Pochepetsky via

You can also learn mixology online from YouTube videos or cocktail education sites like ours. These are immensely helpful, but to gain a focused understanding, we do recommend taking a course or two so you can test your skills– and also so you don’t have to source all the information yourself! Having a class with the information all in one place is extremely valuable.

Fortunately, we offer several self-paced virtual classes that allow you to work on your own time, test your skill levels, and focus on very specific topics from making batched cocktails for a holiday party (our Batched Cocktails Masterclass) to our Mixology Certification Course with advanced topics and tests for the professional. 

These courses provide a shopping list, list of equipment needed (you can head to our shop to get all your bar tools), and a certificate of completion. 

Putting reusable straws into cocktails

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Becoming a Master Mixologist 

Becoming an expert mixologist will take years of experience, but it will also allow you to work beyond the bar setting. If you become really advanced, you could grow your own business in one way or another:

  • Offer your own education courses.
  • Start a cocktail catering company and work social events like birthday parties, weddings, and cocktail parties. 
  • Host online events for company happy hours. Virtual events became really popular during the pandemic and are still favored by many companies due to their flexibility and cost.
  • Become a social media influencer and show off your custom cocktail creations and advanced techniques. You can partner with companies like ours and make commissions off sales or get paid to be a brand rep. 
  • Compete in cocktail competitions to gain status as a world-class cocktail mixer and win prizes that vary from travel, money for education, and job opportunities. 
  • Create your own beverage products like spirits, pre-made cocktails, cocktail kits, or mixers.


Bartender pouring a drink into a coupe glass

Photo courtesy of DesignPickle/

 Becoming a mixologist means having a true, comprehensive understanding of craft cocktails and advanced-level skills rather than just shaking up some popular cocktails. With some education, time, and experience, you’ll be on your way to having a successful career as a master mixologist in no time.