As the mixology world grows increasingly complex, crafting concoctions can be intimidating, both for budding bartenders and at-home drinkers. Juniper sugar? Gelatin cubes? Bacon-infused bitters? Where in the world are you supposed to begin?
But the dudes behind the über-prestigious Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR) professional training program have the at-home bartender's back with their new website, DrinkSkool.com. A completely free resource and instructional tool, it'll teach you how to make a mean martini -- and anything else about alcohol you've ever wanted to know.
Cofounder and spirits veteran Doug Frost says the concept is based on personal empowerment. In other words, you don't need some snobby so-called expert dictating your cocktail choice or creation.
"You have the power, you have the skills, you know what tastes good. It's not up to somebody to tell you," Frost says.
The team -- consisting of industry experts Frost, Dale DeGroff, Steve Olson, F. Paul Pacult, Andy Seymour, and David Wondrich -- runs a pair of other successful bar training programs (B.A.R. and BarSmarts), but those two are designed for professionals. The guys wanted to branch out and assist the layperson, hence the dawning of DrinkSkool.
"I just felt like there was an enormous audience we weren't speaking to, and we have all this info available. The whole purpose of the web is that the information is no longer precious; it's freely available. We were being very foolish and acting like our information was so damn precious that you had to come to our classes to get it," Frost laughs.
Thank God for the information superhighway, where anyone with computer access can now gain street cred as a mixologist. After all, making cocktails at home is more fun, wildly creative, and cheaper than the bar alternative.
"People want to try to know as much as they can and, indeed, there are a lot of bartenders who are starting out and aren't really comfortable in mixology. We're trying to answer that need as well."
The site offers ten in-depth lessons, complete with videos and written instructions. Students can learn about crafting cocktails, the definition of different spirits, how to properly taste various liquors, time-tested recipes, and lots of other info. Users can progress at their own pace, with as many retries as needed. Just stay sober enough for that knowledge to stick, mmmkay?
And, as they say on the site: "We've tried to provide virtually everything you need to impress your friends and family, and hell, maybe even piss off your local bartender with your mad skills." Except, maybe don't piss off your bartender, 'cause you don't want a pansy pour in your next vodka tonic.
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Eventually, the concept will expand to incorporate a paid certification program, with testing and all. But that's down the line. In the meantime, you can score your schooling free of charge -- then impress everyone you know with your rock-star knowledge of all things boozy.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.