Top free online learning tools for bartenders during lockdown

Millie Milliken

Millie Milliken

30 March 2020

If you’re struggling to fill the days that stretch ahead during the coronavirus lockdown, these free online courses for bartenders will keep you sharp

Whether it's knowing your way around the spirits section on your back bar, the history of the drinks your venue serves, or the tools needed to make your drinks, good training is something that can make the difference between top and mediocre service.

However, without being able to learn on the job, as weeks of lockdown stretch ahead of us and people out of paid work, it can be hard to find online courses that don’t involve stretching the purse strings.

And while there are a huge number of wonderful courses and tools out there that you can pay for, those that come for free are few and far between. We’ve found some of the best out there right now.

House of Suntory's Advocacy programme

Want to up your Japanese spirits knowledge? DOJO ('a place to master the way') is the new programme from House of Sunotry for UK bartenders focusing on its premium portfolio of craft spirits: Toki Whisky, Haku Vodka, Roku Gin and Hibiki Whisky.

DOJO aims to improve bartenders' skillset, while also giving them a better understanding of the culture, philosophy and customs that embody the House of Suntory's craftmanship.

The programme will cover the basics of traditional Japanese hospitality and mixology, with virtual masterclasses (which will take place on Zoom) including tastings of Roku, Toki and Haku as well as Hibiki. The session will also explore the concept of Kogei craftsmanship and Hengaku and Haiku writing.

Workshops take place on 23, 24 and 25 June. Register now.

WSET Level 1 Spirits

Perhaps the most exciting offering of the bunch is the result of a partnership between Pernod Ricard UK and WSET. Now, over 2,000 bartenders and hospitality professionals have access to the WSET Level 1 Spirits course free of charge.

Anyone over the age of 18 who works in the industry can sign up to the programme, which will take place online over four weeks. The package includes a selection of eight of Pernod’s leading spirits – think Beefeater, Jameson and Absolut – which will be home-delivered and used as tasters thoughout the course.

Sound too good to be true? Head to and click on the 'Let’s keep busy’ tab to register.

Scholarships with The Council of Whiskey Masters

The Council of Whiskey Masters is offering 10 hospitality professionals a free scholarship on either its Scotch or Bourbon courses. 

Both courses focus on production, history and regions and at the end of each, successful participants will receive a certificate from The Council of Whiskey Masters.

All you have to do to apply is email and detail how you work in hospitality, prove that you lost your job in March (due to the coronavirus) and explain how you could best benefit from whiskey knowledge and certification. The top 10 successful applicants will then get the chance to choose between the Scotch or Bourbon courses. Good luck!

Bartender training with Small Batch Learning

Small Batch Learning's platform may be a free resource for operators, but now it's adjusted its tech to make it possible for individuals to sign up for a free account too. 

Participants will have access to all of SBL's content, which ranges from drinks knowledge and craft skills, to hospitality and customer service training. Virtual Menus allow for product and recipe training while you can also upload company handbooks and any other assets.

All bartenders need to do is send an enquiry form and the team will get them set up.

Rémy Cointreau and Flow Hospitality Training

Rémy Cointreau has partnered with the online learning and development provider, to offer free training to hospitality workers.

They can boost their skill sets by registering for a wide range of courses that have been designed to expand knowledge and advance practical skills, which range from bartending, food and health and safety, to wine, management and leadership.

All you have to do to register is contact your Rémy Cointreau account manager, or simply enquire via email.

Open University’s The Science of Alcohol course

One for anybody looking for a thorough introduction to (or recap of) the science behind booze, this eight-week course covers everything from the history of alcohol to taste and smell, fermentation, distillation and product protection – it also includes tips for homebrewing which may come in handy over the coming weeks, too.

Combining downloadable course materials and video content, the whole course requires around 24 hours of study in total with practice quizzes each week, and culminating in a final quiz in order to obtain your Open University badge as well as a certificate of participation.

Udemy’s cocktail masterclasses

The online learning platform has a roster of free, hospitality-related, half-hour video courses available for people to watch to up their skills.

Cocktails are its most popular with the likes of Cocktail Mastery (nine lectures on Martinis, Mojitos, Margaritas and so on) and Bartending 101 (taught by bartender Michael Rego)

If you’re after a certificate and more in-depth materials, many of the paid-for courses start at a reasonable £14.99 each, so if you’re prepared to part with some cash, take a look at what’s on offer.

Apps for hours

While we're all stuck at home, now is the perfect time to test-drive some of the free bartending apps on offer. 

From the likes of Onthebar, HighBall, LiquorCabinet and Mixology, apps can cover anything from recipe testing to tool sharing and education, and there are plenty out there to start using and sharing with your team.

Look out for Imbibe's rundown of the best apps on offering right now on

Diageo’s Drinks at Home

The drinks giant has launched the series Drinks at Home, which sees brand ambassadors of some of its premium brands producing videos to help educate bartenders while they’re at home.

Each instalment includes three short videos, showcasing cocktail recipes and developing skills and techniques. Ambassadors already confirmed are Ali Reynolds (Johnnie Walker), Christie Knight (Villa Ascenti), Adam McGurk (Belsazar) and Kate Jackson (Ketel One).

Word is that some of the ambassadors have a few fun extras up their sleeves too...

If you know of any free online activity or programme that you think we should add to our list, just drop us an email at, we’ll keep it updated.


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