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With few exceptions, the bartender is often the coolest employee in a bar or restaurant. 

At Detroit Mixology bartending school owner and instructor Sheka Benson is helping people find their inner Sam Malone from "Cheers" with certification classes for those seeking employment, or one-night Mixology 101 courses that are just for fun. 

"The mixology classes, they are a blast," she said. "We focus on one spirit for each class and we just teach people how to make two different cocktails." 

A Houston native raised in Detroit, Benson says she's was "always passionate" about teaching. In addition to bartending for more than a decade, she had worked as an instructor at another mixology school. When that facility closed, she knew she didn't want to go back to bartending and instead opened Detroit Mixology. 

"A lot of people have always been interested in getting behind the bar and seeing what it feels like, and it just gives them a chance to do that and they have a lot of fun doing it."

The classes at Detroit Mixology, which is just over a year old, are popular and stress working with spirits in a fun and save environment. This Saturday night's vodka cocktail course is sold out, but tickets are still available for the rum course on April 20. Tequila will be featured April 27 and cognac on May 18. 

"At the beginning of the class, we go over a little bar lingo and terminology — 'straight up' and 'straight' mean two different things bartending — and things like that. We go over a little bit of the equipment and from there we have fun making drinks."

She says at the Mixology 101 courses the students make drinks for each other, no one drinks their own cocktails. 

For those looking to find work as a bartender, she offers a certification course that is either two weekends or four Saturdays. Here the students learn using dyed water rather than actual alcohol. 

Benson says she's often contacted by restaurants to train their staff, and her bartender certification course attracts students of all ages, from those who want to concentrate on craft cocktails to people who want to learn high-volume bartending to get work in a club. 

Detroit Mixology is at 11000 W. McNicols in Detroit. Visit facebook.com/detroitmix for a list of upcoming Mixology 101 events. Check out detroitmixology101.com for information on bartending certification courses.

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @melodybaetens
 

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