The Art of the Cocktail

The view is different from the other side of the bar. There’s the stack of glasses, shelves of liquors; tools of the trade, but it’s the perspective of looking out at a room with the separation of the bar that’s disconcerting.

“Our job is to make you feel comfortable,” Greg Lewis of 1-800-BARTEND said as he tries to get me to make two cocktails at once.

We’re standing behind a bar. The bar, Lewis teaches, at to be exact. 1-800-BARTEND celebrated 25 years in business in 2014 and they started out 2015 by opening up their fifth bar-tending school at 360 7th Avenue in New York, just steps from Penn Station. It’s their second Manhattan school.

“This new location is a great addition to the family,” Gregg, the owner and founder of 1-800-BARTEND said, “Our first New York City location on 14th Street was the new Mercedes Benz of schools, but our newest location on 7th Avenue and 30th Street is the Ferrari. This is my greatest piece of art yet, from the patent pending classroom design to this amazing location, only 200 steps from Madison Square Garden & Penn Station.”

Gregg(left front) and Bryan Lewis(right frong) with the team of bartenders from 1-800-Bartend at a Maxim Magazine event. Image: 1-800-BARTEND.

Gregg opened the first 1-800-BARTEND school in 1989 in Medford, Long Island 1989. Today, the company has schools near Union Square, Penn Station, and one each in Suffolk County, Nassau County and Queens.

The largest bar-tending school in New York, 1-800-BARTEND provides bar-tending certification after 40 hours of class work and free job placement programs. Their classes include a bartender course, bartender training workshops and bar-tending specialty classes such as beer and wine seminars.

The courses all take place in their mock bar classrooms set up as a real bar or nightclub and also on fields trip outside the classroom where students experience what it is like to work in a real bar before they’re actually employed. It’s all to make the students more comfortable behind the bar so they don’t find the perspective disconcerting whether they are end up owning a bar or working as bartenders.

“We manage to do three things very well,” Bryan Lewis, CEO of 1-800-BARTEND, said. “One is creating an unparalleled learning experience from the minute our students call to enroll, to the time they walk in our doors for their first bar-tending class. The second is our constant perfection in order to maintain a great industry reputation. The third is to provide the best customer service in the industry.”

Greg has been in the hospitality industry for nearly three decades and works to make people not just comfortable but efficient behind the bar. Partnerships with Grey Goose Vodka, Bacardi, Johnny Walker, Empire Merchants and Digital Dining, provided by Lee Bros. Systems allow them to keep their students up to date on changes in the industry whether it’s cocktail recipes or inventory systems.

“We stay current with everything, whether it’s the cash register, or inventory of new cocktails,” Greg said. “When you’re accommodating in the hospitality industry your successful, we always want to offer twice the value to the charge.”

That dedication has led them to grow rapidly in the past six years from one location to five and it’s only the beginning.

“It’s a very exciting time for us, we want to keep the business family owned and keep serving the community,” Bryan said.