By L. Denise Edwards
Elite Bartending School in Pittsburgh is a fully-licensed trade school. They have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. They offer a forty-hour course that can be covered in the daytime, evenings, or on weekends. CBSPittsburgh.com recently sat down with Nadine Riess, founder and instructor, to find out more about taking classes.
Alternate Phone: 1800bartend
Elite Bartending School is located in the Dormont Plaza on the second level inside.
CBSPittsburgh.com: Nadine, tell us a little bit about your bartending philosophy.
Nadine Riess: No one hands you a bar full of adoring fans that just throw money at you. You have to go the extra mile. You’ve got to ask yourself once you get into this business who do I want to be?
CBSPittsburgh.com: You teach students all aspects of bartending, what are some of the most important parts of becoming a bartender?
NR: There are a lot actually, we teach you how to get your glassware clean, how to maintain your environment, how to promote return business. We go over all the name brands and we cover all the different flavors and substitutions as well. Part of our program is to teach speed. We teach you how to pour out of a bottle. We teach the competition fast pour. It’s a mathematical formula that will make you accurate to an eighth of an ounce. We teach you how to get specific to your customers taste, like how you can fix it to make the customer happy. Everything here is hands on. We teach you about all of your equipment. We teach you how to open the bar, and how to close it down at the end of the night.
CBSPittsburgh.com: How much money can someone expect to make as a bartender?
NR: As far as the money that bartenders make, if you go the extra mile you’ll be rewarded. If ten people like you or your bar then those people bring ten of their friends and it grows from there. When you work at nightclubs or lounges, they have a larger crowd. The hourly money is lower because they know you will make your money in tips.
CBSPittsburgh.com: What goes into making a great drink? Is it all about technique?
NR: We go over the different types of drink terminology but what we focus on mainly is great technique. All drinks follow certain techniques. You will be able to make any drink out there. We are teaching you what everything does, not just how to make a cocktail. We will teach you all about beer and how to tap kegs. We also go over wine from your basic whites to your basic reds, appetizer wines, dessert wines and champagne as well. We cover all of the glassware and substitutes because not all bars carry an elaborate collection of glassware. You’ll learn how to handle and maintain a soda gun and how to change it out.
CBSPittsburgh.com: How many people are in a class, and what is the average age range?
NR: We never teach more than 12 people at a time, taking pride in training a really awesome bartender. Not everyone is going to learn at the same pace, so we’ll work with you until you get it. The ages of our students vary. From people who are retired and bored at home to people who are looking to switch careers, or people looking to pay for college, or people who want to make money without going to school for a long time.
CBSPittsburgh.com: What kind of certification do you get?
NR: You are certified through the Liquor Control Board of Pennsylvania.
Nadine Riess, the founder of both Capitol Bartending School in Harrisburg, Pa., and Elite Bartending School in Pittsburgh, Pa. has over 18 years of Bartending and management experience. She is a delightful powerhouse who knows her industry inside and out. There are not many instructors like her around.
If you have been considering becoming a bartender perhaps you should give Elite Bartending School a call.