Learning to make drinks for a better life

NEW ORLEANS -- Crescent School of Gaming and Bartending has been graduating well-trained bartenders for 35 years.

But, one class that wrapped up this week is special.

Crescent and Diageo, the largest producer of spirits in the world, partnered to teach students bartending and professional skills with no cost to the students.

The students went through the three-week bartending course that Crescent offers to everyone. Then, they got an extra week of life skills and professional training from Diageo.

It is already paying off for some of the students.

"Now, they have the skills. They can be off to work," says Kim Burton, Placement Director at Crescent School of Gaming and Bartending. "I have three of them working already."

"The takeaway is once they learn the drinks, they can go out and be professionals and be amazing at what they do," says Sherone Mullings, Program Manager of Diageo's Learning Skills for Life.

"So, we focus on ensuring that they are interview ready, that they do their resume, revamp their entire resume so that it is designed specifically for bartending, how to dress for success," says Mullings.

Diageo has sponsored the Learning Skills for Life Program in cities around the United States and the world. This is the first time it has come to New Orleans.

Connell Chambers, a student in the class, says it gave him an opportunity to learn skills that could result in a better paycheck.

"I'm currently in a field that's not really lucrative," says Chambers. "So, I think that bartending will give me the opportunity to earn wages far greater than what I am earning now."

If it weren't for the partnership between Crescent and Diageo, Chambers says he may not have been able to take the course.

"It was really something that I couldn't afford at the time," he says. "And, the availability of the program really made a change."

Burton says now is a great time in New Orleans for the students to be involved in a program like this.

"Entertainment, hospitality--it's here. It's getting better. And, it's going to get even better," she says. "Think about it. The Super Bowl will be here in the next couple of years. Everybody that went through this class will have a chance to be a bartender at some point or another."