The Dead Rabbit creates experts with Articulate

Hybrid e-learning drives powerful results


front-of-house employees onboarded


upskilling opportunities offered


e-learning drives powerful results

Since opening in 2013 in Manhattan’s Financial District, The Dead Rabbit has become a renowned craft cocktail bar. Their extraordinary beverage program, attention to service, and representation of modern Irish culture have made them the world’s most awarded pub, including the World’s Best Bar and International Bartender of the Year awards.

After 10 successful years, The Dead Rabbit plans to expand with a new location in Austin, TX coming this spring and another opening in Washington, D.C. As the bar grows, they continue to deepen the principles they were built upon, prioritizing not only the guest experience but also personal development opportunities for their customer-facing employees.

Industry: Hospitality, Food & Beverage

Location: New York, NY

Size: 75 employees

Learning Audience: New hires; customer-facing employees

Learn more about: Articulate 360

The Challenge

The Dead Rabbit needed to revamp their employee upskilling program around whiskey education

Employee education is one of The Dead Rabbit’s core values. Company leadership continually expands personal development opportunities for staff. They’ve long used Articulate products to educate their team, including their onboarding program, “Welcome to The Dead Rabbit,” and learning paths for every position from food runners to management.

Another key part of their brand identity is their focus on their cocktail program “trifecta” of Guinness, Irish coffee, and Irish whiskey. Of the three beverages, Irish whiskey is the most complex, with the greatest variance and flavor diversity. These nuances—plus tremendous industry growth—made Irish whiskey a critical educational focus for staff. For these reasons, the team created the Irish Whiskey Genius program.

The initial version of the program was text-heavy, overwhelming, and densely packed with information. Managing Director Jack McGarry saw the course’s potential to accredit staff internally and give them actionable knowledge. He brought on Director of Irish Whiskey Mark McLaughlin to revamp the course with Articulate. 

McGarry and McLaughlin wanted to make the program comprehensive, flexible, and engaging, equipping team members with practical knowledge they could use to further the company’s mission and their own career goals.

The Answer

With Articulate products, The Dead Rabbit transformed their Irish Whiskey Genius program into a mission-validating initiative

McLaughlin set out to transform the program, dividing the course content into four different modules on topics from history to flavor profiles and production methods. Rather than solely presenting content via text, McLaughlin supported the lesson material with imagery and interactive elements to make the course engaging and reflective.

“We wanted to empower staff to be able to authentically engage with any type of consumer that walks in the door and provide them with an extremely personalized experience around Irish whiskey,” says McLaughlin. “The only way you can provide those experiences is by having unequivocal knowledge of the topic at hand.”

McLaughlin also implemented varied assessment methods in the course to ensure learners could apply their knowledge effectively. He chose a combination of e-learning quizzes, essay questions, and in-person assessments to test participants’ knowledge of Irish whiskey. Tasting—a fundamental aspect of beverage education—also happens in person alongside the online training, resulting in a comprehensive hybrid learning approach.

“Articulate makes it so much easier to supplement the in-person work with online coursework,” says McLaughlin. “The options for creating interactivity are very good, and you can make content quite digestible.”

Articulate makes our jobs as leaders and educators a lot easier.

Mark McLaughlin Director of Irish Whiskey, The Dead Rabbit

Unlocking Human Potential

Employee upskilling helps The Dead Rabbit reinforce its founding pillars and offer exceptional growth opportunities

The first year of the program was a success. Not only did people who passed the course gain expert-level knowledge—one participant was able to switch career paths within the company from serving to bartending. Another was recently promoted to Head Bartender.

Those who pass the program also receive several guaranteed benefits, including an increase in hourly pay and a fully-expensed, five-day trip to Ireland, where they gain hands-on experience in the country with its modern distilling industry.

Although participation is optional and the program’s rigor is well-known, interest and enrollment continue to grow. This investment in employee learning doesn’t only benefit staff—it funnels directly back to the customer and to the company’s goal to provide extremely personalized experiences with Irish whiskey.

The insights McGarry and McLaughlin gleaned from the program have also helped shape staff education as a whole, particularly through The Dead Rabbit’s employee onboarding program. Every team member completes an Irish Whiskey 101 module during their onboarding and a more in-depth Irish Whiskey 201 course in their first 2 months of employment. Overall, McLaughlin reports that onboarding courses have become more digestible despite covering a deeper range of topics.

Offering this type of educational experience, says McLaughlin, allows The Dead Rabbit to champion what modern Ireland is all about—all while increasing opportunities for employees and creating fulfilling experiences for guests.

With Articulate products, The Dead Rabbit’s Irish Whiskey Genius program provides employees with valuable career opportunities while offering guests extremely personalized experiences.

Top-rated by users and industry experts

*Data provided by The Dead Rabbit, 2024. This content is based on reported experiences from an actual customer and is provided solely for informational and illustrative purposes. In some cases, we have edited and reprinted feedback; however, in such cases, we did so only to shorten the text and not to edit the nature of the feedback provided. For confidentiality purposes, some information has been anonymized. This content is not intended as a promise or guarantee for any use by current or future customers. Results may vary substantially for each customer.

Articulate and Articulate 360 are either registered trademarks or trademarks in the United States and other relevant countries.

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