First minority owner of a bartending school in Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Louisville woman is causing a stir by running her own bartending school. Breast cancer survivor Charisse LeMaster is Kentucky’s first minority bar school owner.

What do you want to know

  • A Louisville woman has become the first minority owner of a bartending school in Kentucky
  • Charisse LeMaster started a bartending course so she could train bartenders who could work on events
  • She also runs a wedding and event planning business.
  • The bartending course lasts 5 weeks

Most Mondays, LeMaster teaches students the art of making a layered drink.

LeMaster quit his corporate job several years ago to start his full-service wedding and event planning business.

“We found out, I think we all found out during the pandemic, that our normal revenue streams could be changed, could be changed,” LeMaster said.

She found herself in need of well-trained bartenders, so she added another title to her name: owner of In the Mix Bartending School.

“Bartending is a skill once you’ve got it, you’ve got it,” LeMaster said. “You just have to build on it, learn and grow, and it can turn into so many other things.”

It’s a skill that provides financial independence, LeMaster said. Her motivation became the driving factor in offering the 5-week course and as a result, she became the first minority owner of a bartending school in Kentucky.

“When I did it, I wasn’t thinking about that,” LeMaster said. “I don’t think I knew that. I did not know. I just really wanted to do it. I waited a long time and had to plan.

His students practice and after class some get jobs for LeMaster events.

“I was on the other side of the bar, so it was me who went out to order the drinks, not knowing what the drinks were. I was tequila and sprite with lemon on the side and didn’t ask for anything else,” said Nacherell Allen, a student who took the LeMaster course.

Just two years ago, 30-year-old Allen learned to barre. Due to the pandemic, her social interactions became limited and she started working from home.

“It’s more relaxed than my main job, so it’s something I can actually… it’s not like working. It’s playtime for me,” Allen said. “It’s not about sitting at the computer thinking a lot. It’s a lot of fun meeting great people and it’s a great way to network without really feeling like you’re networking.

Allen said she learned tips and tricks from LeMaster as she developed the bartender’s new joy.

“We are in Kentucky. So, you know, there’s bourbon, there’s always opportunity in this industry,” LeMaster said. “We have some who take courses to become masters of bourbon. There are so many other things that can derive for that.

LeMaster classes are held every five weeks. Upon completion, students take an exam testing their understanding of Kentucky’s liquor laws. And while bartenders in Kentucky aren’t required to have a license to sell alcohol, she said most students who train with her have an advantage when they land a job.

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