Over the years, more and more Bartenders have begun to refer to themselves as "Mixologists." You may remember the hilarious bar scene from the 2010 movie Our Family Wedding. In this scene, Brad and Miguel (played by Forest Whitaker and Carlos Mencia), attempt to order a traditional drink from the presumed Bartender.
They were refused service, as the Bartender demanded to be addressed as "Mixologist" and would only serve drinks from the specialty cocktail menu. After teasing the Bartender by calling him names such as "Sir-Mix-A-Lot" and "Mixmaster Flash," Brad and Miguel ordered a specialty cocktail, "pink nipple." At which time the Mixologist (who was evidently a "Flairtender" as well), flips, juggles and tosses some bottles to fancily create two pink nipples.
So what's the big deal? What's the difference? Most people don't care what the title of the person behind the bar is, as long as they receive the drink of their choice. Believe it or not, there is a great difference! How many times have you gone to the bar and either received a poorly made drink or horrible customer service? I'm sure more times than none. With that said, the difference in a Bartender and Mixologist is the customer experience they provide.
A Bartender is typically someone who does just that....TENDS the BAR. He or she provides a service, which usually involves the basic tasks such as serving alcoholic beverages and maintaining a clean bar. On the other hand, a Mixologist is someone who studies the art of Mixology. Mixologists pride themselves on perfecting the skill and art of creating drinks. When a mixologist prepares a drink, expect something original in a decorative glass with a beautiful garnish! They also have a habit of recommending drinks, based on the "style" of the customer. For instance:
A customer happily arrives at the bar, but isn't sure what he wants; so he orders a traditional Tequila Sunrise. The Mixologist takes note of the customer's demeanor and request and proceeds to recommend a fun variation of the drink, Tequila Sunset.
While Mixologists are fun and innovative, they aren't needed in every bar setting. Keep in mind, most Mixologists possess skills and knowledge that most bartenders do not. In addition, they are all about presentation of their drinks. Therefore, they don't always excel in places such as high-volume bars, busy nightclubs or any environment where drinks are to be served quickly. Mixologists are perfect for weddings, private events and parties, hotels and restaurants.
So despite the jokes that people crack in good fun about Mixologists, I am proud to say that I am one! I look forward to hearing your thoughts!