Written by Chris Boyle, email@example.com Saturday, 08 February 2014 00:00
For every club, restaurant, or neighborhood bar you might wander into after a long hard week, the experience just wouldn’t work without one vital piece of the puzzle—an experienced bartender slinging drinks and keeping customers happy.
However, those bartenders don’t just grow on trees; they are carefully crafted into drink-mixing machines by people such as Drew Vaughn, owner of Bartenders International of Hicksville. Opening its doors in 2002, Bartenders International specializes in both training and job placement in the industry, and has developed a reputation over the years for consistently churning out the right people for the right job.
A North Babylon native, Vaughn has a long history himself in the local bartending scene. But after nearly 20 years in the business, he decided that a change was in order.
“I bartended a long time at clubs all across Long Island and I loved doing it,” he said. “However, now I don’t want to go out until four in the morning every night. While teaching this class two nights a week, I get to meet people, have fun, make drinks, and help people find work. It was a good business opportunity.”
While Vaughn does instruct students in the fine art of mixing all manner of alcoholic concoctions, he said that Bartenders International primarily functions as a job placement association.
“It’s like a union, people join because they want to work. After all, there’s no reason to go to bartending school unless you want to get a bartending job,” Vaughn said. “People join this association and we help them to find jobs. And bars call me all the time, because I advertise to them and try to get their business.”
But before he makes a recommendation, Vaughn said that he needs to watch potential bartenders at work; how they make drinks, how they interact with customers and so on. In any given class, he will have some students working behind the bar and the rest posing as customers. He will then observe the prospective bartenders as they’re put through the paces.
“People need to come in and have at least eight hours under my supervision. Then, if they still need more time to develop, they can come in every day,” he said. “It’s like joining a gym. At a gym, you’re not paying to take an aerobics class, you’re paying to be a member of the gym. You can take as many aerobics classes as you want. It’s the same principle here, not everyone catches on right away, so they can come back in and practice as much as they want.”
Takemah Williams of Hempstead was only two hours into her first-ever class at Bartenders International, but she was already mixing drinks like a champ.
“I’ve never bartended before,” she said. “It’s easier than I thought it would be because Drew is a great teacher. He’s nice and he knows a lot.”
Shirley resident Samantha Cuomo was on her second day of classes, and considering the social aspect of bartending, she figures it’s a natural fit for her personality.
“I like talking to people and meeting new people, so I thought I’d give this a try,” she said. “Drew makes you feel very comfortable and lays everything out for you step-by-step, and goes over all the drinks from top to bottom. I would totally recommend him for anyone wanting to get into the business.”
When it comes to generating business, Vaughn said that he has developed strong word-of-mouth over the years for a simple reason— he gets results for his students and members.
“People usually have a great time here and they enjoy it. But what’s most important is that we find them work, so they recommend us to other people, and I get a lot of referrals,” he said. “Sure, we get some people with no experience at all who want to learn how to mix some drinks, but most people don’t come in here because they need a bartending school—they come in here because they need a job. And we can get them those jobs.”
Find out more about Bartenders International at www.bartendersinternational.com.