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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Mixology 101: UF teaches the art of bartending

Although UF doesn’t offer leisure courses for credit anymore, they still exist. The Reitz Union offers a set of leisure courses every semester for a discounted student rate. Options include dance from ballroom dancing to wedding dancing for couples, sports like golf and bowling, meditation, beginning guitar, arts and crafts ranging from pottery to jewelry making, and finally home bartending.

Since my freshman year, I was told to take bartending senior year with all my friends. It was a part of my UF bucket list. The only requirements for the course other than the fee for taking it is you must be 21 by the first class and show proper identification.

The class is held in the basement of the Reitz on either Tuesday or Wednesday nights from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. The environment is casual and relaxed. The course is taught by a guy who prefers to be called Wonton and offers advice from his experience selling alcohol and bartending.

If you take the course fall or spring, it consists of six classes. Over summer it is four classes but three hours long. Each class is dedicated to a different alcohol.

This week marks my halfway mark on my way to becoming a bartender. Of course, we started out by covering alcohol safety and how to be a responsible drinker, which is important to keep in mind whenever going out.

So far, we have learned about proper glassware for each type of alcohol and drink as well as what tools every bartender should have. We have learned tips on how much to spend on what type of drink. For example, it is acceptable to use well alcohol for drinks involving many mixers like a Bloody Mary because the taste of alcohol is covered up. You will want to dish out more cash for drinks that are mostly straight like a perfect martini that only uses vodka and dry vermouth. He teaches us in the beginning and we drink at the end.

The first week we went over beer and its brewing process and how craft beers have become popular. Wonton provided us with 35 different beers to sample from all over the country and some from different parts of the world. He touched on wine and champagne slightly, but told us wine is in its own category in terms of alcohol and there are many different levels of courses when learning about fermenting grapes.

We moved onto whiskey for week two and learned about why scotch is called scotch and why bourbon can only be called bourbon if it is from a specific region called Bourbon County in Kentucky.

This past week was rum week and that dealt with a lot of mixing of dark and light rums with various juices and fruity schnapps flavors. I concocted versions of a Bahama Mama, Blue Hawaiian and Mojito. This has been my favorite class because it was the most hands on with actually mixing drinks.

The final two classes deal with tequila followed by shots and shooters before we are officially ordained bartenders.

We have learned all types of tips at how to get our foot in the door if we want to pursue a bartending job or even career. This course offers informational, useful information while getting acquainted with other legal drinkers.

The best part of the course is the homework — to go out and try a new bar or drink. That is an assignment that is hard to pass up.

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