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Bright Future for Bartenders

Bacardi’s ‘Shake Your Future’ programme trains next generation of hospitality ambassadors
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When you work in a bar, you don’t just pour drinks. You create masterpieces, fun times and, if your patrons aren’t from Bermuda, you are an ambassador for your island.

Trained bartenders and hospitality professionals are in demand and to help meet this demand, Bacardi launched it’s ‘Shake Your Future’ programme for unemployed or underemployed adults, aged 21 and over, in February 2023.

The first “cohort” of seven participants was so successful that cohort two, which began this month, was expanded to 10, and there are plans to extend the programme further.

As part of the free, ten-week programme, participants attend a four-week course at the European Bartending School (EBS) in London, before returning to Bermuda for four-weeks of work experience in a bar or restaurant. They also learn personal branding and marketing skills such as resume writing, interview preparation, and personal presentation.

The most intensive part of the programme is the EBS course, which, said Alana Rogers, director of human resources for the Bacardi offices in Bermuda, “is not a walk in the park. It involves learning all the key brand spirits.”

But, she added, “not only are they learning about the products, they are learning where they are made, what their ingredients are, and, to top it off, they have to learn 66 recipes. They have to know those recipes, they have to be able to write them, talk about them, and demonstrate them.”

Students attend classes for up to seven hours a day, Monday to Friday, and are tested each day on what they learned the previous day, with a cumulative test at the end. The result is life-changing.

“Participants have expressed profound gratitude, often stating that the programme has been transformative, positively impacting and changing their lives,” said Ms Rogers who added that all the graduating participants were offered full time jobs. Top graduate, Keirra Lee, even went on to become the first woman to win the Taste of Bermuda: Set the Bar Cocktail competition, in October.

‘Shake Your Future’ is popular. There were over 100 applicants each for cohorts one and two. How, therefore, can you make your application stand out?

Once open for applications, contenders can apply through the Bermuda Job Board thanks to a partnership between Bacardi and the Department for Workforce Development.

A selection team reviews and sorts the resumes, then invites a number of applicants to an interview, skills assessment and personality assessment. If shortlisted, applicants are invited back for a further interview and potentially a demonstration.

Successful applicants need to “exhibit a willingness to dedicate extensive hours to study and practicing daily,” she said. “It isn’t just the recipes that they have to learn, they have to learn to make them. There is also an element of flair in the bartending programme. They have to show a willingness to be creative and willing to put on a show as a bartender and, or, mixologist.”

Beyond the technical bartending requirements, they also look for people, who, during the course of their internship, will demonstrate a “strong work ethic”, commitment to “teamwork” and an “open-minded approach to learning”. While previous work experience is a bonus, it doesn’t have to be in hospitality. The panel is open to people transferring from a different industry.

“We’re looking for people who don’t just want to settle for being a bartender or mixologist. We’re hoping they will contribute to making Bermuda a first-class tourism and hospitality industry,” she explained.

Looking to the future, Bacardi is in discussions with the Bermuda College about a potential bartending course on island, which would make the programme more sustainable in the longer term. They also hope to form partnerships with Florida International University and the World Flair Association.

“Our aim is to elevate bartending mixology services and skills in Bermuda to a new level. And, we want those who are spending their dollar to come to Bermuda, to have an experience that will last them a lifetime. We feel they can do that by coming into contact with those who work in the hospitality industry,” said Ms Rogers.

Bacardi will announce when applications for cohort 3 are available. When that happens, go to bermudajobboard.bm and type ‘Shake Your Future’ in the search box for more information.

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