BarBees Bartending was founded in 2019 by best friends Jess Blakley and Willow Sprague in Nashville, Tennessee. The company started out offering mobile bartending services for weddings, parties, and other large private events in the Nashville area. Leveraging their passion for cocktails and bringing people together, Jess and Willow quickly found success with their bartending service.
In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BarBees was forced to pivot their business model. They began offering virtual cocktail classes as a way for people to learn mixology and connect during quarantine. This proved to be a smart business move, as virtual classes allowed BarBees to expand their services nationwide. Once in-person gatherings resumed, BarBees added in-home cocktail classes back into their offerings.
Today, BarBees provides both virtual and in-person cocktail classes for bachelorette parties, birthday celebrations, corporate events, and more. Their classes are available in cities across the U.S. including Atlanta, Austin, New York City, Palm Springs, Philadelphia, Savannah, Scottsdale, Tampa, and Washington D.C.
The format of a BarBees cocktail class is designed to be fun, educational, and interactive. Clients choose two or three signature cocktails they want to learn ahead of time. BarBees then provides a shopping list of all the alcohol that is needed, which the client purchases. The BarBees instructor will bring all other necessary ingredients, tools, and supplies to the event.
The class starts with the instructor arriving 30 minutes early to set up. They transform the space into a fun cocktail class environment. The class itself runs for 60-90 minutes depending on the number of drinks being made. The instructor walks the group step-by-step through making each cocktail, teaching mixology techniques and tips along the way. Guests get hands-on experience shaking, stirring, pouring, and garnishing their creations.
Popular cocktail choices include favorites like Mojitos, Margaritas, Old Fashioneds, and French 75s. BarBees also offers creative seasonal options like Jalapeno Margs, Rosemary Palomas, and Raspberry Lemonade Mules. There are also non-alcoholic “mocktail” choices available.
In addition to the standard classes, BarBees offers an upgraded experience with cheese and charcuterie pairings. Guests receive one artisanal cheese pairing expertly selected to complement each cocktail’s flavors. The instructor educates on how the cheese profiles work with the drinks.
Once the cocktails have been shaken, stirred, and sipped, the BarBees instructor cleans up and heads out. They take all their supplies and ingredients with them, leaving no mess behind.
For virtual classes, the process is similar but adapted. Clients choose their cocktails ahead of time and receive recipe cards and shopping lists by email. The instructor then leads a 45 minute interactive class over video chat. They demonstrate cocktail techniques and guide participants as they make drinks together from their own kitchens.
No matter the format, BarBees classes emphasize celebrating connections. The hands-on, educational approach helps hosts create unique gatherings filled with laughter, learning, and libations.
In 2023, BarBees was honored with the Industry Impact Award at the Belmont University Top 100 Alumni Entrepreneur Awards. This recognizes the company’s innovative pivot during COVID-19 and the experiential entertainment they continue to provide.
Jess and Willow started BarBees with a shared passion for brining people together over cocktails. Their ability to adapt and expand during challenging times shows their commitment to that mission. By making mixology accessible through private, interactive classes, BarBees spreads the joy of cocktails across the country.