Topshelf Bartenders is not your typical bartending school. The school is owned by Central New York native Jeffrey Rogers, a bartender with more than twenty years of experience.
It is the only school in the state outside of New York City that operates inside an actual bar. The school teaches classes at Club Sushi in Baldwinsville, and offers its students a unique experience.
"When you're learning, your desk is actually your bar," explains Rogers. "Your stools are your bar chairs. And you sit here and every single day you're behind the bar practicing. You're cutting fruit. You're getting comfortable with what a bar looks like, what it feels like, and - believe it or not - what it smells like."
The 40-hour class teaches everything from how to set up and tear down a bar to hangover remedies to proper liquor pouring techniques. Rogers got the idea for the school more than a decade ago, fueled by changes he wanted to see within the industry. "Fourteen years ago, I started jotting down a few little things that I wanted to change," said Rogers. "And I kept jotting them down and kept jotting them down, and 172 pages later, I was done jotting down things I wanted to change."
With his school, Rogers is looking to improve how others are taught bartending, particularly when it comes to guest service. "When you're getting crushed behind that bar and there's 300 people in that bar and every single one of those guests are screaming orders, you have to keep your composure, you still have to greet them respectably, and you still have to remember that this business is 100% about incredible guest service," said Rogers.
Since opening his school in January, Jeff's eight graduates have all found jobs working as bartenders. He is planning to have three more schools open within the next two years, and eventually hopes to transition into teaching bartending full time.
For more information on Topshelf Bartenders and to learn how to sign up for a class, you can visit their website.