DBA raising the bar in hospitality

Dublin Bar Academy on Francis Street

Dublin Bar Academy (Photo courtesy of Aaron Doyle)

Additional reporting by Aaron Doyle

Seventy-nine Francis Street is unlike any other building on the street, famous for its numerous antique shops. What sets it apart is that it goes against this tradition.

The Dublin Bar Academy has been at its permanent home on the street since last March and the bartending school is the only one of its kind in Ireland.

Richard Linden, the co- owner, hails from Sweden but has worked in hospitality, bartending and bar management in Ireland and Britain for the past 15 years. His experience includes working in the famed ‘Park Hotel’ Kenmare as Bar Manager, the Cliff House Hotel and The Cliff Townhouse restaurant in Dublin.

The academy commenced courses in November 2012. Linden saw a gap in the market for young Irish and European students to study a new trade.

It is a franchise of ‘The European Bartending School’ and runs courses three and four weeks long. The students hail from such diverse countries as Canada, Israel, Lithuania and China.

“We have 23 students in the course at the moment and 16 of them have come from other European countries, we have 14 different nationalities at the moment,” Linden said.

Those who choose to take a course in the school learn a wide range of bartending skills.

The course involves learning to change kegs, master classes in whiskey tasting, lectures and private tours of  the Guinness Storehouse. Experts visit to lecture on a weekly basis with John Moriarty, an expert on whiskies and an Italian grappa connoisseur, flying in from Italy this week to tutor the students.

A popular aspect of the course is flair tending. To the uninitiated, this involves throwing cocktail shakers around behind the bar in flamboyant style. The students also learn five new cocktails every day and Bacardi and Hendricks Gin are amongst the sponsors of the course.

The landscape is changing with more women wanting to become bartenders now, according to Linden. In the March course, the class was 80% women. This is a major turnaround from when the school opened and ran its first course when the uptake was 90% men.

So do females make better bartenders? In Linden’s opinion, the main attributes needed are good social skills, outgoing personality, must be a good listener and like people. In his own words, “you are like a priest, doctor and psychologist in one”.

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