Discovering the WFA Grading System around the world: Italy with Giovanni Peligra

The WFA grading system supports bars schools around the world setting out a structured, levelled system that will allow anyone with a love of flair bartending, to work there way up from a beginner to an expert. Once you are enrolled with the WFA you immediately receive your White Grade, from here you can then start working your way up the levels, starting with the Yellow Grade. The WFA grading is carried out by one of our many WFA grading judges located at a huge variety of bar schools, all across the globe.

We spoke with one of our WFA grading judges in Europe, Giovanni Peligra the WFA’s first Blue Grade bartender in the world to get his take on the WFA grading system, how it has been helpful for his students, and the six bar schools he manages across Italy:

Thoughts on the WFA Grading System and how it works?

“I have been flair bartending for 13 years and bartending for more! I find that the WFA grading system is a really good evaluation system for bartenders and probably the best I have come across during my time in bartending. I like to focus on the cocktail making ensuring that my students are great bartenders first and flair bartenders second – the WFA grading system and guidelines support this order of training and I find that very helpful. Although the jump from Orange Grade to Green Grade requires a big step up in your flair bartending skill set”.

After a bartender achieves their WFA Yellow Grade they are free to start tackling the other grades, working their way up through Yellow Grade, Orange Grade, Green Grade and finishing at Blue Grade. In terms of tested levels these are the four that can be attempted and achieved through a number of bar schools around the world.

WFA Purple Grade, and Black Grade are also available to winners and placing highly in any WFA Grand Slam Competition; and the highly coveted WFA Bronze, Silver and Gold Grades are reserved for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the annual Grand Slam World Championship Tournament.

These are often seen as the hardest grades to achieve as the Grand Slam World Championship Tournament is decided by a year long leaderboard where the only way you can gain points is by placing in other Grand Slam Competitions throughout that year.

How do your students find the WFA grading system?

“As you can imagine many of the students who we get coming through our bar schools in Italy have some bartending experience before and are looking to build on their basic set of skills to become a highly skilled and professional bartender.

The WFA Grading tests your bartender skills as well as your flair bartending skills so we have different forms of speed pouring tests, accuracy pouring tests and the like. The students under my guidance certainly seem to conquer these pouring tests quite quickly and will take a little longer to master the flair aspect they would need to, which would allow them move up to the next level”.

“Achieving any grading within the WFA system gives a bartender a step up on his or her CV as the WFA is an organisation recognised by bars, hotels and drinking establishments all around the world, my students certainly recognise the value of this and apart from the attraction of learning flair – these added job prospects are attractive to any bartender, new or experienced.

From a beginners perspective the way the WFA grading system works, it provides an unrivalled basis and platform from which to build your bartending skill set. The WFA Yellow Grade is a great starting point.

How has the WFA Grading System benefitted your bar schools?

“By adopting the WFA system at our bar schools across Italy it gives us an edge on other bar schools in the country for sure. As I said before, the WFA is world recognised and any bartender that aspires to be more than just a mixologist is attracted to WFA training. As our schools are one of the few in Italy who are certified to teach the WFA grading system it certainly gives our business an edge.

Our bar schools are able to offer the full bartender training that any other bar school would be able to but in addition to the WFA grading, this extra certification for the student has acted as a great differentiator for our business and helped us attract lots of new as well as experienced bartenders!”

 More details on the WFA Grading System.