Bartending in the Age of Donald Trump


by Ori Geshury

President Donald Trump is everywhere these days and it’s not hard to see why. From the unprecedented campaign, to the most vigorous first weeks of an American Presidency in recent memory, there’s certainly a lot of change going on.  And whether you support him and his policies, disagree completely with everything he stands for and are a safety pin wearing member of the resistance, consider him to be a persuasive genius, or remarkably crass and dangerously ignorant, one this is absolutely certain: You are talking about him and there are huge implications happening across the world--especially for bartenders or people who wish to be bartenders.

We have people at our school that voted and who didn’t vote, who supported Clinton and supported Trump.  I’m not writing to voice an opinion on whether what’s happening is good or bad from a political standpoint, I’m a bartender and I don’t feel qualified to do so.  However, I do want to look at the way Donald Trump is impacting bartending, future job prospects, and how education is affected.

The first part of this article is going to focus on the current dangers you should be aware of that are happening to jobs, bartending or not.  Keep in mind that Donald Trump is not completely responsible for all these factors, they are the result of economic and political trends that have been boiling under the surface for decades.  If reading all of these makes you feel like the walls are closing in, and there is some serious trouble ahead, you’re not alone.  That’s the sentiment shared by the many prospective students we meet and talk to every single day.  I want to share them, not to scare you, but to give you an idea of that challenges that are out there so you can face them head on, and develop a plan to overcome them.

The second part of this article is going to focus on how for so many people, Bartending, and a career in beverage, can be a solution that seems tailor made for problems we seem to all be experiencing. 



Regardless of whether or not you support Trump’s threats to tax Mexican and Chinese products, it’s important to realize that it can greatly impact the purchasing power of the American consumer for years.  This is because our economy is so intertwined with other countries, that it’s impossible that taxes on their goods will not raise the cost of living for all Americans-at least in the short term.


Globalization and computerization are threatening more entry level jobs than at any time in American history since the 1970s when we saw the gradual erosion of our manufacturing.  I’ve never seen so many articles on so many different news sources, that all say the same thing: The job market is going to drastically change, and the technology for this to happen is already available. 

Many of our students drive for Uber and Lyft, and we get our fair share of truck drivers as well, and they all are worried about driverless cars, because the technology is already there for safer, more cost effective transportation.  Columbia Professor Hod Lipson has written an amazing book on the subject and his interview with Tucker Carlson is worth a watch.

In addition to that are the more sophisticated robots used in manufacturing, McKinsey and Company, whom we had the pleasure of hosting an event for, even did some fascinating work explaining that up to 59% of manufacturing work is vulnerable to automation over the next ten years.  You can watch a fascinating PBS piece on this here.

And the more vulnerable ones are the one’s lowest on the totem pole.  This week we enrolled two students that all worked in the service industry, one from McDonald’s and one from Chili’s.  And their jobs are threatened by policies that McDonald’s and Chili’s have introduced in response to raising the minimum wage.

In light of these findings, it shouldn’t be surprising to read the results of an Oxford study that almost half of US jobs are vulnerable to computerized automation.  


I’m 33, and of all the changes that have happened in my lifetime, I really can’t think of any as dramatic as how the cost of college is really creating different classes in our society.  It’s getting more and more expensive relative to the rate of inflation and shows no signs of slowing down.  When I was a kid my mom was able to pay for my private school and my dad’s grad school, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in cash without taking out any loans.  We were new to this country and were unable to get credit.  When I was 18, going to Drexel was pricey, but manageable with loans and working retail and summer jobs. 

It’s so different now.  I see single mothers stagnate and take extra classes at community college because completing their Bachelor’s degree seems so out of reach.  I talk to students from schools that were traditionally affordable, like Temple and Drexel where the plurality of our students come from, and see people in their early 20s well into six figures of debt.  A famous Bloomberg report shows just how high college tuitions have grown in the since 1978, 1225%!!!


We don’t need to look at Trump’s zeal to repeal and replace Obamacare or his threats to defund PBS to know that conservatives traditionally like smaller government, and less support for health care, educational infrastructure, and social services.  The truth is that all Republican administrations invest less in financial, educational, and social support than Democratic ones.  These differences are part and parcel of the lines of contention between the two parties.

I’m mentioning this because of how it relates to my last point.  Under a Republican Administration, if you lose your job or get hurt, you will have less support from the state to help you succeed.  With the rise of automation, and the cost of higher education, this can create a perfect storm that wrecks our notions of economic and social mobility for Americans entering the workforce.


While a chemist would certainly agree that alcohol is a solution, I want to explain what I mean


It’s relatively easy in a major city to be able to make $20-30 an hour as a bartender.  We know dozens of graduates from Aqua Vitae that make over 80k a year.  Jim Meehan talks about this in his groundbreaking presentation about the rise of the career craft cocktail bartender and the importance of health.  He says that bartenders should worry about health because many of them finish college and find that their income opportunities are greater for doing a job they love, than a soulless corporate job their degrees have qualified them for.  He cites a 60k a year figure in New York City, which I would say is even conservative for that area. 


I remember a student of ours in the 90s who worked at the Pyramid Club specifically to get access to the lawyers and firms she wanted to apply for upon finishing law school.  My mom was able to support the family by giving her business cards away at the convention center and decorating people’s houses.  Since then, we’ve had hundreds of personal trainers, hairdressers, musicians, actors, dancers, writers etc. leverage their ability to bartend into developing and maintaining business connections and even romantic relationships.

One topic that isn’t explored enough is how positive reinforcement (getting a higher tip) for charisma, great technique, and persuasion can change someone’s ability to deal with people over months and years.  When I was writing the bar psychology portion of the textbook and researching authors like Cialdini, and the famous Cornell restaurant study  where a woman wearing a flower in her hair made 17% more tips, and teaching them to our students, I found that bartenders who had been in the industry for a year or so did most of these things automatically. 

It’s not hard to see why, people can lie and smile and laugh, but if they come to see you and tip you well it’s a clear sign of appreciation that cannot be faked.  This allows bartenders to more accurately judge how their attitudes and habits affect other people than the rest of us, which give them an advantage in every other area of their life.

There’s something else going on here too.  In the movie Crazy Stupid Love, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carrell do most of their dating in one swanky bar.  Watch the clip and imagine you are a bartender in a bar like this.  In a year you’d see not just hundreds but thousands of first dates, business meetings, interactions between human beings that go well and go poorly. 

What do you think would happen to your ability to form relationships, and nail an interview for any job you wanted?

(Side note: The Old Fashioned scene in Crazy Stupid Love is one of the few examples of cocktails in movies that really works.)


If you’ve ever seen the movie Cocktail you’ve got a pretty good idea of how bartending worked in the 90s and early 00s.  While there were some great bartenders out there, and David Wondrich was writing for esquire as a voice in the wilderness very early on, there just wasn’t too much innovation going on.  The best bartenders lifted weights, flipped bottles, worked fast, and eventually started their own bars.  Luis Bermudez, our old head instructor and former Head Bartender at Cuba Libre, exemplifies the absolute pinnacle of success here.  He got into bartending after the Navy, won best Bartender in Philadelphia in a competition at the legendary 90s nightclub/palace Egypt, started a bar with Diego from top 40 radio station Q102, became a firefighter, and now owns properties all over Philadelphia, Miami, and Costa Rica. 

But the differences now are incredible.  Never before have there been so many opportunities for bartenders to advance, bar management, brand ambassadorship, competitions, lectures, writing reporters on HARO.  The options for bartenders who want to advance without shelling our half a million dollars and risking everything to open a bar are tremendous.

Luciano Spensierato, who took classes with us when he came over from Italy, and whom we helped get a job at Xfinity Live when they did job fairs before they opened, and currently helms the exceptional bar program at Gran Caffe L’Aquila, is an example of how a bartender can increase his standing.  Jeff Bowell, who moved to Las Vegas, helped open Revel in Atlantic City, and now NOTO in Philadelphia’s Chinatown, is another good example.


I recently read a great article by sfgate on why people go to bars.  San Francisco is considered a first tier city in the bar and restaurant industry, with its higher income residents, emphasis on locally sourcing fresh ingredients, and care in presentation, you’d think the experience of food and drink would be at the forefront of the article, instead the author writes:

"to work, talk, cheat, chat, smoke, investigate, read, stare, eat, fight, study, use free Wi-Fi, listen to music, be the old dude at the bar, ask for directions, meet a friend, make a friend, borrow money, have fun, and sometimes because there is just nothing else to do."

This really goes to the heart of what I’m trying to explain.  We can’t turn into computers, and we don’t have much control of political and economic change.  But we can leverage our own humanity, build our own network of friends and allies, and create opportunities for us to make money now and later, all by embracing a job that let’s us do all of these things simultaneously: Bartending.   

Because of all these reasons, a part time job or career in Bartending has never been more attractive.  However, I do want to end with one more thing:


Unlike traditional education, that balloons in price year after year, you can study at Aqua Vitae Institute for under a thousand dollars. By the end of it you will feel confident enough to work behind any bar.

If you’ve gotten to the end of this article, it’s certain that you’re at least a little bit curious about how we can help you reach your goals through bartending.  I really encourage you to reach out to us here!

Related: Bartending School information

Champagne and Sparkling Wine: Understanding What To Buy and Labels

Written by Ori Geshury with help from Nathan Weigert

Bad boy novelist turned wine writer (and Gossip Girl guest star) Jay McInerney once observed:

"Nobody ever said I want you to pour sparkling wine all over my naked body."

Champagne has such an incredible reputation for elegance, luxury, and decadence, but does it deserve it?

First, I want to give a little bit of a background about how sparkling wines and Champagne came to be and how they've been marketed. There are many legends of how sparkling came to be created, but my favorite is the story of Monk Dom Perignon.

The story begins in the 1600s, where the monks were making wine in the Champagne region of France. But Champagne had a problem. The region was too cold and the wine in the cellar would always stop fermenting just a little bit too early--causing still wine to be carbonated. This problem was known as refermentation. Thus, bottled wine from Champagne had a quirky problem that many other regions didn't have. Their beautiful wine, would sometimes, have bubbles, or worse, just magically explode!

Dom Perignon, however, decided that was enough was enough. There was a bright side to Champagne after all and a few exploding bottles wasn't going to stop him from showing the world that. Champagne was absolutely delicious. When winemakers all over threatened the region of having defected wine, Dom Perignon invited all his fellow monks around him. He famously told them, "Come Quickly, I am tasting the stars!"

Champagne may be the first Sparkling Wine and it is full of beautiful history. But it is not the only one. Here is a cheat sheet for your sparkling wine purchases:

  1. CHAMPAGNE The traditional gold standard of sparkling wine. Aged "sur lie" and have tasts which range from chardonnay grapes which are lean/crisp with lemon, to green apple and minerally to rich and full pinot noir champagnes with aromas of brioche, toffee and baked apples.
  2. CREMANT means creamy in French, denoting sparkling wine made in the "Methode Champenoise" in any other region other than Champagne. The quality is often comparable as grapes used are very similar. However, there is still quite a difference in terroir.
  3. PROSECCO Made in Italy in the Charmat method. It is not aged "sur lie" as Champagne is.  As a result, the flavors are simpler and more to the point (like apples and pear), with a little bit of sweetness.
  4. CAVA Spain's sparkling wine which vary greatly in quality. Some are extremely high quality and are comparable to the some of the greatest Champagnes in the world. Others are made more similar to prosecco and are bottled quickly! Knowing brands is extremely important!
  5. FRANCIACORTA is from the Lombardy egion Italy, made in the Methode Champenoise. A lot warmer than northern France, and they tend to be riper and fuller than its French counterpart. In exchange, they lack a lot of the acid and mineral qualities of champagne.
  6. AMERICAN SPARKLING WINE Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the most common varietals. Some are made in the Methode Champenoise, but many are not. In general, cooler growing regions are better bets because the acidity in the grapes is preserved.
  7. SEKT Sparkling wine made in Germany.
  8. MOSCATO D’ASTI & BRACHETTO D’ACQUI Sweet sparkling wines from Northern Italy, delicious as an aperitif or with dessert.

Sparkling wine has four levels of sweetness, which will be printed directly on the bottle. Here is a guide to understanding them:

  1. Extra-Brut: Driest kind of sparkling wine, the yeast has eaten absolutely all of the sugar.
  2. Brut: Most popular type of sparkling wine. The wine is dry, but there is just a hint of sweetness. The winemaker stopped the fermentation process just before the yeast ate all of the sugar.
  3. Extra Dry: Dry, but not as dry as Brut or Extra-Brut, noticeably sweeter but not sugary sweet. Prosecco is most often Extra Dry.
  4. Demi-sec: Sweet sparkling wine, usually drink with desert, as there a noticeable sugar.

The Difference between Rose and normal Champagne is either the addition of red wine or the addition of black grape skins in the fermentation process. However, due to the perception of consumers and the market, many Rose champagnes are also sweeter and more full-bodied than their white counterparts!




How To Write the Perfect Bartending Resume

 Written by Alexander Johnson and edited by Or Geshury

The Bartending Resume

We call it the bartending resume, because a bartending resume needs to be different from any other resume you've built for any professional job.  If you're going to be a banker, or you're a teacher, or you're a mechanic, and on the side you want to bartend, your resume needs to not be your mechanic resume, your resume needs to not be your teacher resume, because at a bar and restaurant if you've taught middle school for six years, that's not as relevant as if you went to bartending school.  So we need to tailor and cut and paste your old resume, and turn it into a whole new resume.

How The New Resume

That's going to detail relevant job experience, Another thing I see a lot is, people who have been in the industry for a while, have a two page resume, a three page resume.  When a restaurant or bar gets a resume, it's in a stack of resumes as high as a bottle.  They are looking for fun facts, they're looking for bullet points, they're looking for quick snippets.  They're not looking for long paragraphs.  You really need to make it jump and pop.

I was in an office one time with a restaurant manager looking over resumes, she saw a resume that was two pages, without even looking at the name, she said: "Two pages!"  Balled it up and threw it over her shoulder.  Things are so faced paced, my manger doesn't have time to eat or use the bathroom let alone read and look at three pages or two pages of a resume.  

Short and Sweet

So short and sweet, we're going to list the last three places we've been at, three relevant job experiences, we're going to outline what we did there, and we're going to try and use number whenever possible.  If I said something like for Job Placement, I placed 30 jobs a month for Aqua Vitae.  And if I said for the 2nd bullet point is "Passionately finding students jobs, by creating question and answer based content for Aqua Vitae.

Your Bartending School Experience

This is absolutely crucial because it outlines your base of knowledge and your foundation. It also shows that you are willing to invest in yourself in order to improve in this field.

Responsible Service Certifications like RAMP and ServSafe

These show additional training and benefits to the bar in terms of saving money on insurance, reduced risk, upselling ability, and versatility behind the bar.

Showing Extra Individual Knowledge

Things like additional training in wine, beer, coffee etc. Visiting distilleries and breweries, joining the United States Bartenders Guild, and in general moving forward and pursuing your passions in food and beverage go a long way to differentiate yourself from other applicants who show up for tips and a pay check.

MOST IMPORTANTLY Make Sure You Update Your Contact Information

Before my experiences hiring and working with students, I never really thought about this, but it's surprising how many times people forget to update their contact information to reflect their newest cell phone number or the e-mail that they check the most often (most people have an e-mail they started in high school, a more mature e-mail with their first and last name, and an e-mail they use primarily for work, make sure you put one that's professional and that you're actively checking).  It's much more common than you'd think, so do a quick check at the end of updating your resume to make sure all the relevant information is up to date.

How To Study for Bartending School Part 2 - Understanding Our Teaching Philosophy

Working in the hospitality industry is very demanding. You are expected to learn flavor and pairings, menu items, customer service scripts, and so much more.  In addition to that, if you want to move up in this industry the amount of information you need to absorb and assimilate keeps going up.

The trick is that none of the programs focus at Aqua Vitae Institute focus on simple memorization-it is furthered by the belief that people are conditioned to learn to pass tests in school and then forget the next day. Instead, the education philosophy at the institute is a three pronged approach.

Aqua Vitae Institute blends theoretical learning, with practical drink making, with advanced techniques.  Because of that, learning how to learn is really important and it's something that most other schools don't focus on and what separates us from any of our competitors.

Here are some of the methods we focus on in class and what you should pay attention to when you study back at home:

1. Say It Out Loud!

Have you ever had to memorize a song?  We've discovered that many people struggle to memorize music without actually attempting to sing the song. Instead, they can listen to a song hundreds of times and only a few phrases--likely the chorus, will be remembered by them.

The major way we simulate this process is by pairing people up into groups of two or three. One person will make the drink and the other two will coach the person making the drink on what they are doing correctly or incorrectly with a answer sheet. After every few minutes, they will switch turns. This allows people to speak out the recipes to other people, while also helping ...

2. Writing It Out!

One of the key components we use to train people is having them flash cards. The reason is that it associates learning with something more practical and artistic--it also helps to internalize some of the mneomonic devices we teach in a concise format. For example, Martinis and Manhattans being a certain type of cocktail and in a certain type of class. It also allows a place for word clues like the phrase "Very Tragic Landing" for the Kamikaze becoming shorthand for:

Vodka, Triple Sec, and Lime Juice

3. Doing It!

Aqua Vitae Institute doesn't have conventional school desks and painful school chairs set up. We have a bar and a lot of equipment.  We also have a library, but after reading theoretical knowledge within a book, instead of it just sitting in your brain as a cool fact and being forgotten, we recommend our students to use our facility in order to see and prove theories. You might find that many of the things even the most popular bartending books have pictures of or create recipes for, just aren't going to work out in practice! Instead of focusing on what is in a book, it's important to understand what actually works in the real world, and focus on memorizing that.

By doing something and making it happen, you'll begin to retain that association as something that is more real than a theoretical book.


How to study for bartending school part one
Learn more about Bartending School and Cocktail Classses

How old you need to be to become a bartender

This is the age you need to be to become a bartender in every state. This was last updated on December 2016

  • Alabama (AL) is 21
  • Alaska (AK) is 21
  • Arizona (AZ) is 19
  • Arkansas (AR) is 18
  • California (CA) is 21
  • Colorado (CO) is 18
  • Connecticut (CT) is 18
  • Delaware (DE) is 21
  • Washington DC (DC) is 21
  • Florida (FL) is 18
  • Georgia (GA) is 18
  • Hawaii (HI) is 18
  • Idaho (ID) is 19
  • Illinois (IL) is 21
  • Indiana (IN) is 21
  • Iowa (IA) is 18
  • Kansas (KS) is 21
  • Kentucky (KY) is 20
  • Louisiana (LA) is 18
  • Maine (ME) is 18
  • Michigan (MI) is 18
  • Minnesota (MN) is 18
  • Mississippi (MS) is 21
  • Missouri (MO) is 18
  • Montana (MT) is 18
  • Nebraska (NE) is 19
  • Nevada (NV) is 21
  • New Hampshire (NH) is 18
  • New Jersey (NJ) is 18
  • New Mexico (NM) is 19
  • New York (NY) is 18
  • North Carolina (NC) is 21
  • North Dakota (ND) is 19
  • Ohio (OH) is 21
  • Oklahoma (OK) is 21
  • Oregon (OR) is 18
  • Pennsylvania (PA) is 18
  • Rhode Island (RI) is 18
  • South Carolina (SC) is 18
  • South Dakota (SD) is 18
  • Tennessee (TN) is 18
  • Texas (TX) is 18
  • Utah (UT) is 21
  • Vermont (VT) is 18
  • Virginia (VA) is 21
  • Washington (WA) is 18
  • West Virginia (WV) is 18
  • Wisconsin (WI) is 18
  • Wyoming (WY) is 21

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