Monkey Business Academy is Back with Monkey Shoulder Bringing Bar Industry Icons to Your City

Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whisky is known for shaking up the bar world and pushing boundaries, particularly when it comes to changing the perceptions about the Scotch category.  So of course, their bartender education and advocacy program, Monkey Business Academy is all about encouraging the industry to push boundaries as far as they can go in business. Back for its second edition, Monkey Business Academy brings together a roster of modern-day bar icons (Haley Traub of Attaboy, Tara Fougner of thirsty Media, Tsunetaka Imada of Angel’s Share and hosted by Anna Mains of Monkey Shoulder) to lead quick-fire interactive “mini masterclasses” for bartenders at various cities across the U.S. kicking off in Brooklyn, on August 21st followed by Tampa (Sept. 29th), Chicago (Oct. 9th), Austin (Oct. 24th) and San Diego (Dec. 4th)

The Monkey Business Academy diverges from traditional seminars in that every class features a hands-on element that provides participants from the industry with foundations to build and grow their real life business skills that set them apart in the bar world. To be the best, you gotta learn from the best. So we’ve got a whole crew of industry icons ready to teach you and give you the keys to the business kingdom.

What really makes Monkey Business Academy an impactful program is how it goes against the grain and beyond the typical skill-focused technical bartender class offerings, and instead leans into development of practical real life knowledge that will help bartenders and others in the industry succeed both personally and professionally on all things “running a business” whether that business is place, product or person. Of course, since it is Monkey Shoulder, the Monkey Business Academy program is super fun and promises to make going to school feel super cool!

“Three years ago, when we were wondering if we would ever be able to gather in person again , when our only way to connect was online, and everyone was realizing that it wasn’t the drinks from their favorite bars they were missing … it was the energy, the atmosphere, and the people,” Anna Mains, Monkey Shoulder National Brand Ambassador, tells Thirsty. “I called [thirsty co-founder] Tara Fougner with an idea for a program that I knew she would share the same passion of bringing to life as I did. We talked about what really needed to happen if we wanted our industry to be more inclusive, and allow new voices to be heard. We talked about the honest conversations about our industry that should be being had. We talked about the fact that we both wanted to be taken more seriously, but weren’t willing to change our personalities to do so. We talked for hours, and last year I got to bring what we talked about to life with Monkey Business.”


Photo credit: 52Chefs

The program launched last year and was such a success, it’s back again for another edition. “We were just getting started last year! This year, I feel like I am able to bring more of what my hope for this program to be to life. We all learned, grew, and became more passionate and confident in what we were doing each session  last year , and I think each of our lessons this year reflect that.”

This year’s program features a talented roster of educators, including returning presenters Attaboy GM Haley Traub and thirsty co-founder Tara Fougner along with newcomer Tsunetake Imada a senior bartender at NYC’s iconic Angel Share. The series kicks off in Brooklyn on August 21st and is moving around to different cities every few weeks, including the next event in Tampa, Florida in September.

This interactive workshop kicks off with a multi-sensory tasting experience, followed by a cocktail creation session and bar operations 101 like you’ve never experienced before! We’re here to level up your personal brand building and mixology skills.

Hosted by Monkey Shoulder’s head of development Anna Mains, Monkey Business Academy is an upgrade from the typical bartender education programs. Mains will first guide participants through creating the perfect recipe using Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whisky.

“We are kicking 2023 monkey business off in August 21st in Brooklyn at Jolene Sound Room with Christine Wiseman and her rockstar crew from Barlab Hospitality,” says Mains excitedly. “I couldn’t think of a more perfect venue to start this year off, it’s going to be fire!”

Monkey Business 2023 events:

  • Brooklyn – August 21st
  • Tampa – September 19th
  • Chicago – October 9th
  • Austin – October 24th
  • San Diego – Dec 4th

“Let’s Get Down To Business Y’all!”

Check out the Monkey Business Academy Presenters, below:



The Attaboy GM gives best in class tips and tricks on keeping your bar running smoothly. “Haley and I had many conversations about how being a bar manager was really just being a plumber / electrician, and how we wished we had some handy man 101 skills classes,” Mains explains. “This is what inspired the operations section of Monkey Business this year. Haley really put together something special, and I think it will be the most useful ‘bar skills’ class most people will have ever experienced.”



The Thirsty co-founder explains how to go beyond the bar in this session designed to help you build your personal brand. “Tara’s section inspired so many young bartenders last year,” says Mains. “This year, her section builds upon the energy she sparked; Tara will be giving more tangible tools to add to your PR toolbox, talking about finding the  courage to put yourself  out there, and helping attendees build a supportive community and inner circle. We are also adding the opportunity to take headshots that represent your personal brand and voice. I think we are really going to see some superstars rise from Monkey Busniess this year, and I can’t wait to see them shine!”



Learn the art of Japanese bar technique and creating special moments through cocktails. “I have wanted to bring something like this to life for a long time, and finally got the green light to do so this year,” Mains says. “We are also welcoming a new business Monkey this year: Tsunetaka  Imada from Angel’s Share! He came to me with an amazing seminar of storytelling through cocktails and the Japanese approach to cocktail creation. I knew it was the perfect fit for Monkey Business. Last year , I had attendees fill out cards of what topics they would like to see this year be a part of MBA: Japanese bartending technique and approach to cocktail creation was the top request.”

For more details about the new Monkey Business Academy program, and to RSVP, visit

We hope to see you there getting down to Monkey Business!

Get more information at this site and follow Monkey Shoulder on Instagram @monkeyshoulderus 

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