GSN Alert: BarSmarts Coming to Charleston, SC

barsmarts_colageBarSmarts Advanced is coming to Charleston on Tuesday, May 12.

BarSmarts Advanced is a full-day of instruction, education, hands-on mixology, testing and certification that takes place in select cities each year. Hosted by Pernod Ricard USA, and BAR, LLC, these events are a day of challenge, learning, and fun.

The morning session includes an introduction by F. Paul Pacult, a comprehensive blind tasting with Steve Olson and Doug Frost, history and cocktail/punch demos with Dale DeGroff and Dave Wondrich, and a discussion on service/hospitality with Andy Seymour.

In the afternoon, participants will take a 100-question test (includes a blind tasting) and a separate practical exam. The practical exam asks that participants properly make 3 classic cocktails in front of one judge. Feel free to bring your own bar tools or use the ones we provide. Participants that pass both exams will become BarSmarts Advanced Certified – our highest certification!

BarSmarts Advanced starts promptly at 9AM and ends around 5PM. We encourage participants to arrive at 8:30AM to sign in. Breakfast and lunch are included. If you are travelling to BarSmarts Advanced from out-of-town, we suggest arriving the day before the event. The BarSmarts Advanced registration fee is $75. Travel and lodging costs are not included.

To properly prepare for this event, we require all BarSmarts Advanced attendees to take and complete our online BarSmarts program prior to the event.

To take the first step in attending BarSmarts Advanced Charleston, please register and complete the BarSmarts program. Click here for more information on the BarSmarts program.

To register for BarSmarts Live in Charleston, click here.

If you have already completed the online BarSmarts program, and would like to register for BarSmarts Advanced Charleston, please click the link above. If you have any questions or trouble registering, please contact Michael Parker at

News Bulletin: BarSmarts Training For Free To Qualified Bar Owners & Managers

If you own or run a craft cocktail bar, and you’d like to provide the highest level of spirits and mixology education to your staff, you might qualify for free training from the Benchmark program in the industry.

Email my friend, Suzanne Freedman, all about your bar and your cocktail program, to find out if you qualify.  Let her know you heard about it from me (Blair Frodelius)!

BarSmarts is a one-of-a-kind online bartender education and certification program sponsored by Pernod Ricard USA, and developed in collaboration with the world’s most celebrated cocktail experts from BAR, LLC.

Designed exclusively for Pernod Ricard USA and instructed by the celebrated partners of Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR), LLC, Dale DeGroff, Doug Frost, Steve Olson, F. Paul Pacult, Andy Seymour and David Wondrich, BarSmarts is the only program of its caliber to provide comprehensive mixology education.


GSN at Tales 2012: Lesson Two (Choose Your Words Wisely)

Photo by Chris Kridler for The Times-Picayune

You never know who you might be talking to when you make an off-handed remark.  On the first night of Tales of the Cocktail, there were two kick-off parties.  The first one was Absolut-ly surreal with an indoor winter village.  Under blue lighting, there was an artificial “snow” machine blowing white stuff around with huge fans, creating a chilly yet inviting reception.  While catching up with old friends from Barsmarts and The Hukilau, I caught a woman out of the corner of my eye who was taking photos.  So, I turned around and posed for her.  She asked my name and I said jokingly, “Are you trying to interview me?”  Turns out, she said she would.

Since the theme of the evening was Absolut, her topic of inquiry was about vodka in general.  It was interesting to be on the other side of the microphone.  I’m usually the one asking the questions.  So, lesson number two is: be careful what comes out of your mouth.  You never know who you might be talking to.  Turns out she was a reporter for the Times-Picayune and my words ended up alongside those of Dale “King Cocktail” DeGroff.  It just may be the only time both of our names will ever appear in print together.

You can read the article here.  And thanks, Chris for teaching me another lesson at Tales. 🙂

GSN’s One For the Road: Masters of Mixology NYC Edition

One of the current trends I see happening in bartending is focusing more on individual, quality customer service and less on the particulars of crafting cocktails.  I think this is partly because a lot of us have learned the basic recipes and balance aspect of mixology; but when it comes to maintaining positive energy and learning new ways to personalize our cocktails for each guest, many of us fall short.

Pernod-Ricard is leading the way by introducing a new training program for the graduates of the Barsmarts program called “Master of Mixology”.  This all day seminar debuted last month in three key markets: New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.  Led by ringmaster Gary “gaz” Regan and co-host Simon Ford, the day featured three different seminars, each one focusing on ways to excel as a bartender.

The morning began bright and early with a guided meditation exercise led by Gary meant to help everyone focus and relax.  It worked.  I nearly nodded off, but maybe that was because I’d been out the night before and had a few too many with gaz, coupled with too little sleep.  Gary’s point was to prepare ourselves before we begin our shift, listen to our intuition and focus our intent when we are behind the stick.

Things continued with “The Mastery of Service” co-led by Dushan Zaric of Employees Only and Macao Trading Co. and Aisha Sharpe of Contemporary Cocktails Inc.  The focus was on how to practice hospitality using knowledge, performance, and intent.  The upshot of this seminar was to teach us how to become mindful of how we work and feel when we are in “the zone”, despite what chaos may be going on around us.  This will lead to stability, clarity, and intensity which ultimately gives us contentment in our work.  They also handed out a small memory aid for everyone.  It was a glass marble to be kept in our pocket, reminding us to be in the moment.  Dushan carries one all the time.

By this time, everyone was hungry, so we all broke for lunch.  I took the time to grab a few rays of sunshine outside, despite the early spring chill in the air.

After lunch, Gary again led a short exercise in relating to customers.  His focus was how we can be inclusive and suggestive, rather than authoritative.  Most importantly, he reminded us to really listen to what a customer may respond with when asked, “How are you today?”

Up next was Tony Conigliaro from London’s 69 Colebrooke Row.  Like a mixological Willy Wonka, Tony brought some very interesting apparatus and sweets to pass around.  Well, not candy per se, but things like eggs in the shell that smelled like fresh cut grass, champagne cocktails that effused essence of rose, and Rota-Evaporated spirits.  Perhaps the most interesting and geeky part of the program was Tony’s discussion of how chemical chains evolve and become more complex as cocktails are aged in glass.  We’ve all heard about barrel aging, but this was something entirely new to me that deserves further study.

Gary led one final short program on dealing with negative emotions while working, then the final presentation was hosted by Nick Strangeway from U.K.’s Strangehill Drinks Consultancy.  The focus was using locally sourced produce, growing herbs (even broadcasting seeds in abandoned lots for later harvest) and creating interesting seasonal modifiers like cordials,  shrubs and sherbets.  We all got to taste some unusual recipes including a milk punch and an alternative take on a 20th Century cocktail which called for blanco tequila and Seville orange juice.  As well, there were dozens of fresh herbs placed on our tables for us to “spank” and inhale.

By the end of the day, my head was full of knowledge and my spirits were high.  Kudos to Pernod-Ricard’s Director of On Premise Initiatives, Suzanne Freedman for pushing the envelope when it comes to educating the bartending community.  As I told a friend of mine the next day, “unlike most of the other players in the global spirits industry, Pernod-Ricard is not in it just for the money”.  And that, is more cutting edge than anything else currently going on in the bartending world, IMHO.

BarSmarts Teaser

Suzanne Freedman from Pernod-Ricard and spokesperson for BarSmarts mentioned to me that starting this Fall there will be what she called “mini seminars” in select cities that are stripped down versions of the current BarSmarts Advanced program.  Look for programs in L.A., Chicago, Vegas and Boston amongst others.  These programs will include some, but not all of the current six presenters (Dale DeGroff, Steve Olson, Doug Frost, F. Paul Pacult, Andy Seymour and David Wondrich).  As well, BarSmarts WiredBarSmarts Wired will be accepting registrations soon for it’s summer online course.If you have not taken this course, do yourself a favor and plan on it for 2010.  It is the best educational experience for your money available today.


BarSmarts Spring 2010 Schedule



— BarSmarts
ADVANCED Bartender Education Program Set To Hit Seattle, Washington DC, Orlando
And New Orleans This Spring —

New York, N.Y., (February 10, 2010) – Pernod
Ricard USA®, a leading producer, importer and marketer of prized spirits and
wine brands in the United States, and BAR, LLC announce the spring 2010
schedule for their highly regarded BarSmarts ADVANCED,
bartender training, education and certification program. Beginning in April, BarSmarts
will travel to Seattle, Washington DC, Orlando and New
Orleans reaching  an entirely new group
of bartending enthusiasts eager to learn the profession and industry
professionals looking to sharpen their skills.

targets bartender protégés in major markets who are committed to the profession
of bartending. It is delivered to a select audience in these markets through an
exclusive BarSmarts
Kit that includes a selection of DVDs, a workbook, mixology
equipment (where legal) and sample certification tests. The program culminates
with BarSmarts
a full day program of instruction, education, mixology,
testing, and formal certification for the program’s top performers in each
market. The event is hosted by the esteemed BAR, LLC partners who include world
renowned mixologists Dale DeGroff, Steve Olson, Doug Frost, F. Paul Pacult,Andy Seymour and David Wondrich.

“Our BarSmarts
Bartender Education Program continues to deliver results and gain momentum
since we rolled out the first BarSmarts ADVANCED
program in New York in the fall of 2008,” said Suzanne Freedman, Director
On-Premise & BarSmarts for Pernod Ricard USA. “To date, our groundbreaking,
hands-on program has trained more than 1,000 bartender candidates and is
helping set a new standard of excellence within the profession. We look forward
to bringing BarSmarts ADVANCED to
Seattle, Washington DC, Orlando and New Orleans this spring helping a whole new
group of participants learn the craft and impact the bartending profession in
their markets as they pursue their careers.”

The Spring 2010 BarSmarts LIVE
schedule is as follows:

Seattle, WA – April 27

Washington DC – April 29

Orlando, FL – May 10

New Orleans, LA – May 12

In response to widespread
praise for BarSmarts
, Pernod Ricard USA and BAR, LLC, in August 2009, launched BarSmarts
, the
100% online version of BarSmarts.
selects participants by invitation only, BarSmarts
offers any bartender with interest in the craft an opportunity to
participate and become certified through a web-based platform offered twice a
year in two month intervals. The second ‘wave’ of BarSmarts WIRED
will be open to interested candidates from March 1 – April 30, 2010.


— “Wave 2” Online
Training Program Goes Live Feb. 1, 2010 –


New York, N.Y., (January 11, 2010) – Pernod Ricard USA, the premium spirits
and wine supplier in the U.S., and Beverage Alcohol Resource, LLC, announce the
reopening of their comprehensive online bartender training program – BarSmarts WIRED. The program is the 100% online and more broadly reaching phase of
the partnership’s highly successful BarSmarts—a comprehensive bartender training, education and certification
program. BarSmarts WIRED “Wave 1” was
open from August 1 – September 30, 2009 and drew online participation from
hundreds of bartending enthusiasts nationally.

BarSmarts Wired is open twice a year in two-month intervals.  Unlike BarSmarts
, which is the “invitation only” sister program, BarSmarts WIRED offers any bartender with
interest in the craft an opportunity to participate and become certified through
a password-protected web-based platform.  Interested candidates are directed to register
at where, once registered, they can download content, complete
assignments, take exams and gain certification within the time frame specified.
The online program covers topics including Spirits Knowledge & Tasting, Industry
History, Cocktail Knowledge & Technique, Bartending for Career Advancement,
and Service & Profit. The cost to participants is $45 and includes a BarSmarts messenger bag and complete set
of professional bar tools, which are mailed upon registration. Individuals 21
and older interested in taking the online course can learn more by visitingthe BarSmarts website.

“The response to the first wave
of BarSmarts WIRED was truly
outstanding,” said Suzanne Freedman, Director, On-Premise & BarSmarts,
Pernod Ricard USA. “Hundreds of interested bartenders participated in the
online program, from new bar enthusiasts to mixology professionals looking to
refresh and build upon their knowledge and skills. We have greatly enhanced the
program for the upcoming Wave 2 session.”

BarSmarts has been
designed exclusively for Pernod Ricard USA by BAR, LLC based largely on their
award winning BAR 5-day Certification Program. BAR, LLC is a partnership of six
of the most highly respected spirits authorities/educators in the U.S.
including Dale DeGroff, Steve Olson, Doug Frost, F. Paul Pacult,Andy Seymour and David Wondrich.

(For bloggers who’ve yet to take both the Wired and
Advanced courses, they are offering to reimburse your registration fee(s). Please contact Samantha Harrigan at if you’re interested, or if you know a fellow-blogger who
might be.)