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Time was, you’d have to work your way up from barback to bartender in a high-class establishment, or just pour over and practice the several hundred core cocktails from any top drinks historian in order to learn your way around a bar. Now, there’s no need to even get dressed for the day; you’re only a WiFi connection away from MasterClasses in drink-making, mastering, and history.
Among the many online courses to learn from or give as gifts, you’ll find everything from class series to virtual events hosted by accomplished bartenders. Instructional videos, worksheets, bar basics brochures, and even quizzes are on offer, but it’s the window onto the world of even casual mixology that you’re really getting. Register for one of these courses and start dreaming up your next cocktail party.
Best Online Cocktail Making Classes of 2021
- Best Overall: MasterClass - Lynnette Marrero and Ryan Chetiyawardana Teach Mixology
- Best Splurge: Death & Co. Virtual Experiences
- Best Private Class: J.Bespoke Custom Virtual Cocktail Classes
- Best for Groups: Hey Bartender
- Best for Working Bartenders: BarSmarts
Why We Chose It: This is an incomparably comprehensive and well-executed video series covering nearly every aspect of conceiving, mixing, and mastering world-class cocktails.
Videos are well-produced
Well-rounded course list
No information given on tools needed
This 17-part mixology series sets a pretty high bar. Led by Lynnette Marrero, one of the creators of the all-female bar competition Speed Rack, and Ryan Chetiyawardana, the visionary behind “World’s Best Bar” and “Best Cocktail Menu” winner Dandelyan, this set of courses covers nearly every aspect of cocktail developing and making, from setting up a back bar and using eggs to flavor pairing and layering. You could hardly have more creative and comprehensive guides.
Most of the 17 videos fall between 15 and 30 minutes, a perfect length of time for exploring, explaining, and picking apart a topic without tedium. MasterClass’s $180 annual subscription also makes this an incredible value, already less expensive than most cocktail courses.
Why We Chose It: The team that wrote the books on cocktailing now offers standard-setting classes.
Best conceived and planned classes available
Gets into truly advanced techniques
Full kits are available for local pickup
Supplies only offered to those at three locations
When we say that Death & Co. wrote the book on modern mixology, we really mean that it wrote two books, each of them indispensable. This was already one of the more innovative young bars in New York City when it published the first book, but it was the second book, "Cocktail Codex," that was the true sensation. It's a combination glossary, development guide, and recipe collection that covers nearly every aspect of bar building and drink mixing.
You might expect a market or even a series of classes simply trading on that name, but the bar's virtual experiences, while undeniably expensive, are the most detailed and reliable in the business. They are as much about the details as about a greater understanding, whether 101-level demos or Advanced Techniques:
Why We Chose It: Participants receive direct, private lessons in preparing a spectacularly well-rounded cocktail menu.
Truly inspired and educational core drink menu
Ability to invite any number of your friends
Wide-ranging ingredient choices
Price not listed on the website
No provision for deeper dives on methodology
The bartenders behind cocktail lounge J. Bespoke offer fully customizable, well-organized classes focused on cocktails from their own menu. Their team sends you all the ingredients and bar tools necessary to make the drinks and allows you to invite any and all friends you want. The instructors are based in New York City’s NoMad neighborhood.
Pricing does vary depending on both the drink and day of the week you’ve selected, but you’re rewarded for being more ambitious, learning your way around nitro cold brew martinis, spicy and botanical watermelon slings, and coconut washed Campari cocktails. You need only look over the menu and email the host directly to set up your first class.
Why We Chose It: Hey Bartender offers fully customizable live events from some of the best craft bartenders in the country.
Degree of customization
Ease of including larger groups
Supplies can be shipped to all participants
So many variables result in unclear pricing
Not enough information on the format
Hey Bartender specializes in creating customized corporate and social events. Guests for its cocktail classes can precisely define or characterize their ideal drinking experiences using forms on the website, and Hey Bartender will either ship supplies to each guest or draw up shopping lists for them.
Prices vary based on all of the different configurations and class sizes, but the classes are all professional, personable, and unquestionably fun for a group event.
Why We Chose It: The Classes are all-encompassing and cover the background on all aspects of drink creation and production.
In-depth instruction on tasting
Extensive lessons in production
Explores history and development
Video production quality is middling
No “take-home” resources
BarSmarts is quite possibly second-to-none when it comes to preparing for a career in bartending or just having that level of knowledge. Developed for Pernod Ricard USA by Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR), this Comprehensive Bartenders Spirits Training is more than a masterclass in distillation, tasting, production, and history—it literally certifies and flash-qualifies you to take a stand behind the bar.
Each of the four modules—Spirits Basics, Spirits & Liqueurs, Cocktail History & Bar Essentials, and Service Management & Cocktail Recipes—has anywhere from eight to 13 different chapters, diving deep into everything from tools and equipment to ice selection and improvisation, and ends with a quiz and final exam.
There are cocktail classes geared for the Good Time crowd—fun group events for friends far and wide to clink glasses and learn a little something—and then there are classes, true learning experiences from the industry’s most learned minds and experienced hands. Overall, we recommend the MasterClass with Lynnette Marrero and Ryan Chetiyawardana, a 17-part series that's engaging, delicious, and edifying, all at once.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do Online Cocktail Making Classes Work?
Memberships typically offer either access to a collection of pre-recorded classes or to a single, more crafted video that may be more of a customized experience. Classes can range in price from $15 per month (MasterClass subscriptions) to $500 and up for a single class (Death & Co.), some of which even come with a certification.
What Do You Learn in an Online Cocktail Making Class?
The best classes will walk you through a cocktail while giving you a good sense of its components and how they come together, how to achieve balance between the ingredients and their proportions, and how to master the preparation. At their best, they’ll also explore the drink’s history, “relatives” in the cocktail world, its core template, and how you can improvise.
What Do You Need to Take an Online Cocktail Making Class?
The supplies needed will vary depending on the class. Some, like J. Bespoke, will even ship the supplies to you in advance. Most classes will provide lists of the tools and equipment you’ll need to have on hand, often before you sign up, so you’ll have the opportunity to prepare.
Are Online Cocktail Classes Worth It for Mixologists?
Any mixologist worth their bitters knows that there is still so much more to learn, from mastering dilution to more advanced aspects of the trade. While many classes are geared toward the beginner and may be a bit redundant for the enthusiast, there surely are courses for the more experienced. Death & Co., for example, gets into pressure infusions, clarification, and complex syrups.
Did we look at every last class? It certainly feels like it, but we were invested in analyzing courses for a range of experience and price levels (from introduction prices to splurges for enthusiasts), and that take both micro and macro looks at cocktail history, methodology, and mastering. Ultimately, we’ve highlighted classes from established platforms like MasterClass to those from legendary establishments like Death & Co.