October 08, 2013
Shaken, not stirred. On the rocks. With a twist. The art of perfectly crafted cocktails will be taught to students taking mixology classes at a brand new bar at Northampton Community College's Fowler Family Southside Center.
And this bar is green!
"Bartending classes used to be taught in the display kitchen here on the fourth floor, and it was not the best facility for it," said David Schweiger, NCC's hospitality and tourism program director, at a reception for the new bar on October 7.
Dan Shelly, instructor, received the same feedback from his students. "They loved the classes, but didn't like the venue."
So Schweiger approached administration with the idea of a state-of-the-art mixology center to meet the needs of the growing tourism industry in the Lehigh Valley. "It was the perfect time to put a new training bar in."
The powers that be agreed, but the budget was limited. That's where the talented physical plant staff came in. They reused and recycled items in the Southside Center to make the bar, and even made by hand some of the pieces from spare wood.
The bar shares space with the mock casino training area on the third floor of the Southside Center.
A popping ceremony with sparkling cider was held to celebrate the opening and the first class was held immediately after. The students will use soda plus colored water to practice the art of mixology. Shelly, who works at St. James Gate Irish Pub in the Sands Casino, will demonstrate how the drinks are made with real alcohol. Students are then given teaspoons to sample to learn how the end products should taste.
Also in the works are fundamentals of wine and beer programs for industry professionals. "With the popularity of craft beers and wine-tasting dinners, people working in the food and beverage industry will need this knowledge," Schweiger said.
In an August Morning Call article about the job market, state labor analyst Steven Zellers indicated that, "The main driver of the Lehigh Valley's labor market continued to be tourism." The article noted that the leisure and hospitality sector accounted for 43,000 jobs in July of 2013 - 7,100 jobs, or 20 percent, more than the year before.
Northampton's continuing education classes in mixology are open to individuals over the age of 18 who want to learn to tend bar on a full-time or part-time basis. Mixology I includes 21 hours of instruction in the basics of bartending and mixology, from setting up the bar, making and serving cocktails, dealing with difficult customers, the law as it pertains to alcohol consumption, and recognizing and preventing intoxication.
In Mixology II participants learn a variety of mixing techniques and become familiar with complex service, such as layering and flaming cocktails. The focus of this course is on mastering mixing skills and exploring new recipes and techniques.
The College also offers RAMP certification (as a non-credit course) taught by a Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board approved trainer. RAMP training is included in Mixology I.