Hands-On with Maverick Drinks’ JERRY e-Learning Platform

JERRY professors include: Joe Alessandroni, Monica Berg, Michael Callahan, Zdenek Kastanek, Agung Prabowo, Christopher Lowder, Ethan Lui, Dean Callan

A sample of Jerry's modules. Click to view full size.
A sample of Jerry’s modules. Click to view full size.

Launched during London Cocktail Week by way of a panel discussion with some of the ‘Professors’, Maverick Drinks have flipped the on switch on their new e-learning platform – JERRY (from this point I refuse to type that in caps).

Named, as you might expect, for Jerry Thomas, the platform aims to provide a learning resource that bartenders can access on any internet-connected device. The system was originally developed by Proof & Company, a consultancy prominent in Asia, as a ‘a brand agnostic alternative to modern beverage education’. Maverick Drinks are bringing the service to the UK, for use by individuals, teams, and larger groups.

This sort of thing has been done before of course, with platforms created by Diageo and Pernod Ricard springing immediately to mind. The longevity and uptake of such a system ultimately depends on two factors – usability and content.

Maverick kindly provided me with a guest log in, and I have spent some time this week exploring Jerry. As far as usability is concerned, the platform seems well designed and easy to navigate – although I did find that once I had progressed a few slides into a course, I wasn’t able to go back to previous slides, which was a minor annoyance (and may well have been a result of me doing it wrong).

All of the content is presented as ‘courses’, split into three broad areas. The first is the flagship ‘Modern Bartender’ courses, which have been put together by the panel of luminaries listed in the first paragraph of this story. I didn’t explore too deeply here, because each element has to be completed before the next can be viewed, and I didn’t have time to work through the whole programme (the website says there is about 2 hours-worth of content in this section).

The four modules in the Modern Bartender section are titled: The Basics of Bartending, The SOS Behind The Bar, The Best Practices of Bartenders, and The Modern Bartender Cumulative Assessment. These modules contain group exercises for team learning, along with periodical assessment points, and the content is worked through in a linear fashion with student interaction required at the end of each stage in order to progress to the next. PDF downloads accompany the learning slides, encouraging students to build an offline or printed reference resource for use once the course is finished.

The other two areas of content focus on cocktails, and brands. Although these modules are presented as courses that users ‘enrol’ on, they are in fact single pages with an accompanying PDF download. Presumably this format is a result of the website having an education architecture.

The cocktail modules cover a selection of the classics, with specs for each drink and a bit of history described. It’s the type of knowledge that would be useful to a rookie bartender learning the basics, but geeks in search of an information deep-dive would probably need to look elsewhere.

As you would expect, Maverick’s brands feature heavily in the ‘brands’ modules. Each product’s history is outlined, along with tasting notes and key ingredients and a note of distillation method, and any awards the liquid has won. Bartenders considering an entry for any of Maverick’s cocktail competitions would find this section a good place to start.

The Jerry platform is brand new, and it is early days as far as content is concerned. The ‘Modern Bartender’ courses look interesting, and having been put together by some very knowledgeable folk, they are bound to be useful to front line bartenders. If users are to keep coming back to Jerry having completed the initial 2 hours of learning, Maverick will need to expand the cocktail section so that it becomes more than a beginners’ reference, and keep adding new ‘flagship’ content. A solid start a launch though, and readers are encouraged to explore the Modern Bartender courses.

The Jerry platform is live now. To use it, contact Maverick Drinks and ask for a login by emailing hi@maverickdrinks.com, or speak to your local rep.