1. Food

So, what is the proper title for someone behind a bar? Is it a mixologist or a bartender? Is there a difference?

Mixologist Tim Laird of Canadian Mist Whisky muddles a drink
Shannon Graham

Over the last few years the term "mixologist" has been used more often than ever before in the history of bartending, but is a mixologist just a fancy, scientific-sounding name for a bartender? Technically, yes, but there is a generally accepted difference between the two job titles and the two are often used interchangeably. Still confused?

Mixologists practice mixology and bartenders tend bar. In the industry we tend to think of a mixologist as someone who studies and helps evolve the field of bartending, creating innovative cocktails the world has never seen and reveling and refining the techniques and drinks of the bartenders of old: a sort of cocktail historian and revolutionary rolled into one. Mixologists are known for making a name for themselves in cocktail literature and industry-wide consulting jobs. Whereas the name "bartender" conjures images of a people person who can whip out 20 well-made, popular drinks (often featuring their own creations) and 50 draws of beer before you know what happened, all while keeping a crowded bar happy, lively and tipping nicely.

Those stereotypes are just that and there are many fine mixing professionals who could fall into both categories and many more who specialize in one or the other. Neither is better than the other, each has their own merits and the debate continues in the professional bartending community. In fact, many pros behind the stick are against the use of "mixology" all together and many of those are people others would mixologists.

What do you think? Is a mixologist simply an overrated title for a bartender or is there a legitimate distinction between the two?

Comments

August 28, 2008 at 10:44 am
(1) ginmarsni says:

I’m neither a bartender or a mixologist, just a regular guy whose concern, when ordering at a bar, is that the person behind the bar hears what I want and makes it properly.

When I ask for my usual Beefeater martini; up, dry, stirred with a twist, that’s what I expect to be set in front of me. Certain not what whomever makes it thinks is what I should have or what he/she is used to preparing.

That’s my rant and I’m sticking to it.

December 2, 2011 at 3:34 am
(2) Lorraine says:

yep who cares about who’s who’s as long as you get the mix right… either way you both serve from behind the bar. Good service iright mix is all we ask for.

August 28, 2008 at 2:06 pm
(3) Robert says:

To me a bartender is one who dispensises mostly beer, wine and shots.

August 29, 2008 at 7:30 am
(4) MIKE at Marriott says:

I agree with Dave ,where I work there are two kind of bartenders those that know only how to pour pints & g&t’s, whereas I make some damm fine cocktails that keep the guests coming back , so I suppose because I study and love my job I could be called a mixologist.

August 29, 2008 at 8:25 am
(5) Trev from Denver says:

Finally a post that I can agree with. Though I never expected to make my living in booze I adore an article like this. Mixologists are not bartenders and someone who works behind a bar is not necessarily a bartender. From the bottom up far too many who work in bars are not interested in learning the trade and learn the least amount of drinks serving only their peers. True bartenders are those who have put effort to the craft and know drinks from sexy alligators to sidecars and kir royales, such is the level I have attained. Mixologists are that rare breed that have more specials than a monday night dive, in this school I am a mere student.

September 1, 2008 at 11:06 pm
(6) Eileen says:

Well said Trev. I agree totally.

September 1, 2008 at 11:18 pm
(7) Casey says:

I think the term “Mixologist” was dreamed up by a bar tender who considered bartender a degrading term. He thought, I don’t just tend bar, I mix drinks and thus a new occupation was born.. A sort of exercise in self aggrandizement. It is similar to bulldozer operators being called operating engineers.

Unless and until some authoritative body, the state, a trade union or some such, sets standards and oversees the meeting of them, there can be no real difference between the two.

December 17, 2008 at 5:57 am
(8) Jono says:

I agree. You are either a bartender, or a very good bartender.

A person who calls themself a ‘mixologist’ is merely attempting to glorify their profession by differentiating themself from a breed of very poor bartenders.

December 24, 2008 at 3:13 pm
(9) Robert says:

I think there’s a very important difference between the two. A bartender is a person who engages in the noble and storied profession of mixing and serving drinks. A mixologist, on the other hand, is a douchebag.

December 31, 2008 at 3:50 am
(10) Jon says:

im a bartender and an aspiring flair bartender/ aspiring mixologist. i think there is a difference sort of. a bartender can simply tend the bar and know nothing about mixing drinks or really care about it for that matter. ive seen it alot and i end up with a bad drink. on the other hand a mixologist to me in a simple kind of way is a bartender who loves his or her job and is always trying to improve their skill. or it can be taken to the extent of a bartender who can create a drink in their head just by the flavors they want or want it to pair with.

February 4, 2009 at 11:44 am
(11) Greg says:

@ Jon

So, a mixologist is a good bartender?

February 12, 2009 at 8:59 pm
(12) Alcohologist says:

Allrighty,
I am no longer working behind the bar however I am still in the bar and booze business and must say I think there is a big difference between a bartender and a mixologist… similarly to how there’s a big difference between a chef and a cook…

The term Mixologist is a valid one and has been in use since before the first cocktail book was published in 1862. The first mention of it as far as I know was as far back as 1856 and it refers to bartenders who not only are good at entertaining their customers and who work the bar in a professional manner, but whom also have a knack with creating sublime and original concoctions…

If you don’t see the difference between the two, then I suppose you don’t see the difference between cask wine and a fine bordeaux or a big mac vs. a meal at El Bulli…

August 16, 2011 at 9:21 pm
(13) gabrielle Harris says:

I agree with alcohologist….Bartenders serve beer and warm wine and schmooze with the bar flies….don’t know how to fix todays drinks. Gina at Lost and Found in West Los Angeles is a true mixologist. I have lived in great cities around the world and found her at our local bar. She is tthe BEST and most creative the price for ALL cocktails is $4.50!!!!! She also is a working stand up comic. Go see her for the best drink you’ve ever tasted.

September 22, 2011 at 11:35 pm
(14) David says:

I also agree with Alcohologist.

February 14, 2009 at 10:44 am
(15) Sheila says:

Just as in other professions, there are varying degrees of commitment, education, experience and invested interest in their chosen field. Most people understand that there is a difference between a Wine Steward and a Sommelier.

Elevating the definition well above your basic ‘drink slinger’, Bartenders, like Wine Stewards, have enough knowledge in their product to supply information, direction, and to execute the final product to the patron. Mixologists, like Sommeliers, have a higher level of education (often legitimate through accredited schools and programs) in the science behind the manufacturing and consumption of these products. They have a proven commitment to further the profession through advancement of innovation and technology.

As innovators, they are often called upon by the industry in the areas of New Product Development, Market Research, and Marketing. Many of the top professionals serve as authors or contributing editors for anything from cookbooks or lifestyle reference books to magazine articles. And many are brought on as consultants to new restaurant, entertainment, or hospitality ventures to translate an ethos or vibe consistent with the establishment’s overall message.

Of course, some will self-aggrandize and take the title of Mixologist to elevate their self-worth. But overall, if someone is considered a mixologist by their establishment, peers, and the surrounding community, a difference has been established.

March 2, 2009 at 3:18 pm
(16) J says:

I think people get too hung up on titles. For years, I had people trying to lable me a “bar chef”. Fine, whatever. I have also been called a mixologist too. The reality of the situation is that I am a bartender so long as I am behind the bar. I may employ the art of mixology in my work but, there is much more to what I do than that. There are “home enthusists” who can be mixologists but, the bartender is more than that. Not only must they know how to make a drink, they must also know how to give you the right drink. It is their job to find out what it is and provide it to you. If you need to attach a title to me to get the experience you want, do it. Just pay your tab.

March 4, 2009 at 3:44 pm
(17) Chris says:

Ok, I haven’t read all of the posts b/c I didn’t want to waste my time reading such crap. I have been working in cocktail and normal bars for 10 years. I run 4 top cocktail bars, but still consider myself a mixologist.
The differences between ‘bartender’ and mixologist’ are as big as the dif between a brain surgeon and a pediatrition. Mixology is very focused on science and innovation and matching tastes, textures, colours, temperatures, etc. Bartending is serving beer and spirit mixers. I know some fantastic bartenders but they are a long way from mixologists.

March 11, 2009 at 5:18 am
(18) moussette says:

i agree with chris’s(14), second paragraph.

March 16, 2009 at 4:58 pm
(19) barbararose says:

I am neither a bartender nor a mixologist. I run a liquor store. And I need to tell ya’ll that I have customers coming in all the time saying ” I just had this Fantastic drink at this bar called “whatever” and I have to look it up in my Bar-Guide so I can figure out the ingrediants for them to make it themselves at home. Most of the time they try and come back and say “it just didn’t taste the same!”
I just have to say to ya’ll–the job you do is fantastic-you and I know they can never make it at home the way you guys do. It’s what keeps YOU in business. And after they’ve bought all the liquor from me-they still can’t get it right themselves and keep going back to you. Thanks for all you do, you have a craft–keep it coming! BR

April 18, 2009 at 12:03 pm
(20) David says:

To Add on Chris’s Post, there is a very distinct difference.

Mixologist
1. If you’re a great bartender, you’ll hear “I used to bartend” or “I want to be a bartender” 10 TIMES A DAY!

2. A mixologist calls him/herself a mixologist because they have already learned all the classic & modern drinks and have moved on to who/how/when they were created.

3.A mixologist is employed at higher end establishments such as : Casino’s, Resorts, & All-suite Hotels. A mixologist also holds titles like “V.I.P. Bartender” and “Head Bartender” at these establishments.

Bartenders

1. Think they are a professional bartender.

2. Open beer at coyote ugly.

April 18, 2009 at 12:41 pm
(21) cocktails says:

This is turning into a great conversation…thanks! Keep it up, it’s great to hear the different perspectives on such a “touchy” subject.

May 6, 2009 at 5:32 pm
(22) dane says:

And they can serve a drink without lipstick from the last customer! That differnetiates a “Bartender” from a “mixolofist”

July 15, 2009 at 10:41 am
(23) Mike at the Marriott says:

Since I first made a comment about the difference between a Bartender and a Mixologist I have read so me interesting comments , there was the guy saying that it is a gloryfied title , well maybe but a regular bartender does not as a rule go to the trouble of researching the products in his bar ,or research what products actually will blend with others ,and what fruits will blend together and taste good , the guy from the liquor store is right we guys that call ourselves Mixologist can make drinks that can not be replicated at home as we have a certain knack of making drinks and little quirks that people not in the know cannot replicate, I recentley made a guest a VESPER
MARTINI and the guest asked how I made it so light and well balached, it is with years of practice and experimentation which the average Bartender who serves beer and spirits & mixers most of his time behind a bar will never learn,that is why some of us are called Mixologists and others are good bartenders, I will never say that the average bartender does not do a good job but he tends not to be as passionate about what he does, bottom line is that the mixologist can make a damm good drink out of the most amazing ingredients and it will satisfy his clients, thats why they are called MIXOLOGISTS.

July 24, 2009 at 4:25 am
(24) Justin @ terra vista says:

I would prefer the title bartender over mixologist. However mixology to me is someone who understands the science behind blending cocktails…perhaps a culinary background.but let’s be honest.I don’t care who makes my drink . Just put delicious booze in my glass and I’ll call you king for all I care.

August 10, 2009 at 5:28 pm
(25) Kb says:

I’m sorry but for the person who likened mixologists to master sommeliers, there is no certification process for mixologists. I know plenty of douchebags who call themselves mixologists. What about the waiters. There are those that work at Chilis (no offense intended) and those who hone their craft over decades learning the finer points of tableside service, expert wine service and recommendations and they are called ” waiter”. Not dining experience engineer. Of you really want to salute your craft, stick with bartender. Just go out and be a really good one!

October 17, 2009 at 8:18 pm
(26) Andrew says:

i’ve been experimenting with drink recipies all my life, obviously virgin drinks when i was much younger, and I love being known as a bartender. but when i am compared to the guy pouring beer in the run down bar near the truck stop i usually clarify by calling myself a bartender while the other man is simply a “beer-tender”

December 16, 2009 at 6:04 am
(27) Agisna says:

Mixologist is the person who know how to mix any classic cocktails without following what are the brand or specific concoctions should be to get the Aromas, Color and presentation well balance.

Bartender mostly the person behind the bar who likes to see their customers on running taps but still one thing for sure that “Bartender Rules”

January 8, 2010 at 5:59 am
(28) Joe says:

All I know is that I will never say, “hey, can you ask the mixologist (insert any kind of request you would hear at a bar)”

I’ll probably use the word “bartender” and I don’t mean any harm with that.

Interesting note: Firefox keeps telling that “mixologist” needs to be spell checked.

January 8, 2010 at 10:57 am
(29) Colleen says:

You can imagine how often I type “mixologist” and it is always marked as a misspelling no matter how many times I attempt to train my dictionary to accept it. I find it odd as well as the term stems from the 1800′s.

May 20, 2010 at 7:37 am
(30) zac from melbourne says:

can we really turn away a term which is doing so much for our industry. Evolutions like this one will better service and drink structure for time to come. It is people who look down on the service industry that generally have trouble with this term. when they can make black forest foam using gas and cosmopolitan caviar then it is I that will be the first to sit down and pay attention to these people and there rants. Also I don’t believe the term should be used in the actual bar as when you are behind the bar and are bar tending then you are a bartender but when that person leaves the bar and then endeavors on their time off to better the standard of their drinks through research and other methods then they can be classed as whatever they like and who are you or I to tell them otherwise??????

June 7, 2010 at 2:26 pm
(31) bill stevens says:

I think Mixologist is just a nerdy hipster way to try and make one self feel more important than they are. I personally know several Mixologist with less than 6 months bartending experience, and the personality of wet carpet. One of them even had to ask how to make a Long Island Ice Tea! Sure they use a lot of green chartruse and dried campari dust, but most of their drinks taste like pre-prohibition cough medicine. I think the reason a lot of the classic cocktails went out of style is because they taste like sh*#! I suppose if you want to you could compare it to certain cars. Lets say the Pinto? You could probably call it a classic but it still sucks!

August 27, 2010 at 4:27 am
(32) chris says:

I am actually looking for a mixologist or someone whom I can work with to design 2 new bar menus – expat contracts are available for the right candidate? Any takers? Email me at chrischuah72@yahoo.com

October 16, 2010 at 5:51 pm
(33) Claire says:

I have only been tending bar for 5 years, and I’ve worked my fair share of “popping caps” and jager consuming bars, but even though i’ve worked these places, i wouldn’t call myself a “bad bartender”. i experiment QUITE often, changing up different drinks, creating my own, and trying to understand where and how things are made. i wouldn’t call myself a “mixologist”, but i also know i’m a damn good bartender. i can entertain a happy hour crowd of 20 and remember all their names & what they drink, or a music venue of 250 with efficiency and quickness. i think it’s all personal preference, an opinion. and no opinion is wrong.

November 14, 2010 at 5:59 pm
(34) trisha says:

I recently interviewed at the Cosmopoliton casino for a bartending position. One of the questioned they asked me was ” what’s the difference between a bartender and a mixologist?” I answered to the best of my knowledge, that it was a bartender that has a lot of experience. They responded that it’s someone who uses fresh ingredients, and infused alchohol, such as limes, mint, fresh fruit ect…. Well, that’s what I’ve been using the whole time as a bartender, duh! They said they were only hiring mixologist’s for their bar. I answered all their questioned correctly, needless to say they didn’t hire me. I think it’s best to call yourself a “mixologist” now a days…..if you want a job! Times are changing…

November 14, 2011 at 11:11 am
(35) David says:

You are so right, the “mixologist” trend has overwhelmed the unassuming workforce, to the point where a bartending school graduate with no experience is hired before a 20 year bartending veteran, simply because of a title.

December 3, 2010 at 9:26 am
(36) Liam Webster says:

Its not really fair to put someone who works 10 hours a week opening bottles of bud and pouring pints in the same boat as someone who spends most of their waking hours researching spirits and succesful bars, trying new cocktails and mastering the craft. I dont see the difference when it comes to the kitchen (commis, head etc), drinks can be just as complex as food.

December 8, 2010 at 12:19 am
(37) Greg says:

I agree with KB. Any way you slice it, he or she is a bartender. I have been in the restaurant business for over 10 years and I have worked at some very high end establishments. If I was working behind the bar, I was a bartender. If I was working on the floor, I was a waiter.

December 20, 2010 at 2:32 pm
(38) Boxin says:

Honestly, working in the bar in my country(China) need to qualified, need to attend to bartender college, and it`s a kind of occupation in China. but after I came to UK, I find anyone who can speak english and using till and give customer drinks—–that is all call bartender. Well, now there is a word call mixologist— that just make someone who learn those knowledge form college—make them a little bit different—–only know how to mix drinks.

A professional Bartender should know how to taste-test wine, knowledge of wine, knowledge of cigar, bar management….etc

January 10, 2011 at 10:29 am
(39) Ray says:

A Mixologist is someone who has a developed skill of understanding mixtures, what and how one ingredient will affect the other ingredients and why. Much of it is experimental, and some of it results in a great drink. A bartender is someone with good people skills and a great ability to make proper drinks and serve beer and wine. A Bartender should also have a good understanding of how the drinks might taste like and the various wine grapes and regions. One can be both, or mainly a bartender or mainly a mixologist. It takes patience and skill to be good at either one.

May 16, 2011 at 12:44 pm
(40) del says:

I love the fact that somebody else pointed the truth out. Thanks for the recognition. I sure do appreciate it. From your friend. at Mix Em Up Mixologist Bartending Service.

October 10, 2011 at 10:02 am
(41) chefpro says:

A bartender is one who has basic knowledge of mixed drinks, beer and wine and can serve quantity in a fast paced environment and make the proprietor profit. A mixologist one that has studied the craft and uses ingredients found in the kitchen. You can be one or the other or both. The professional mixologist is both.

Just like chefs, I have worked with many that can make a great dish but cannot run a kitchen. Their food tastes great but their restaurant will fail. You can be a mixologist and a crappy bartender at the same time.

December 27, 2011 at 2:50 am
(42) Parliament's Restaurant & Lounge says:

ANY ONE WANTS TO WORK AT OUR NEW PLACE AS A “Mixologists” PLEASE GET IN TOUCH WITH ME. OUR PLACE IS LOCATED IN TORONTO. EMAIL: kselvachandiran@gmail.com

February 15, 2012 at 10:51 am
(43) xxxx says:

A bartender serves you a drink.
A mixologist serves you a drink with attitude (and suspenders).

February 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm
(44) mIke says:

Just a euphemism… nothing less…nothing more.

February 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm
(45) Jules says:

Mixologist generally for the high end club with a young crowd going to enjoy what is in at the moment, so he or she must be up to date on the latest and be innovative in their own right. Fast paced and not able to spend the time with the clientele whereas the bartender’s main job is tending to his patrons whether it is to pour an icy brew into a properly chilled mug or to listen to someone pouring their heart out over a glass. a great bartender not only mixes a good drink but makes the customers feel like family.

March 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm
(46) rmille22 says:

The difference between a bartender and a mixologist is the same as the difference between a cook and a chef.

April 19, 2012 at 3:14 am
(47) Rellsius says:

I’d like to thank all the creative minds out there that can appreciate what a Mixologist is.I’m a music producer,songwriter,fashion guru and great cook in the kitchen for my lady.I just got out of bartending school and already my mind has laid the blueprints to becoming a Mixologist.
Research,Experimentation and Artistry are mine! Why? Not to give up my passion in music..but because I have a talent for all that is Artistic!
I couldn’t be simple in a creative field even if I tried to make it a “part-time gig”.But when you’re dormant, you remain latent while juices flow in the minds of Mixologists, tantalizing the buds, who said tasting isn’t fun!!??

For the “haters” out there, you will only appreciate what true art is (in any form of food,cocktails or desserts) when the days of a liqour tasting like cough medicine are gone.I suppose we should’ve never invented cocktails and stuck to moonshine huh SimpleSimon and HaterHailey? Average throat gugglers and drink tumblers will never innovate, only a Mixologist will create for our tastes.
It’s not the title….we bleed passion!

May 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm
(48) Marcus Deaves says:

It ALL depends on the Management. Do they [the management] employ bartenders in the first place or JUST people who sling drinks? A ‘Bartender’, to me is someone who Tends a Bar, properly and IF that bar sells and serves mixed drinks i.e. G&T’s or cocktails or molecular creations, then their bartenders need to be mixologists as part of their job description. The term ‘Bartender’ is a term to be revered and respected and should in no way be used to describe someone who is not as ‘good’ as a mixologist. bar workers are two-a-penny, Bartnders are rare, and if the establishment calls for mixology then any bartender worth her or his title SHOULD be a mixologist on TOP of their bartender title, NOT instead of it. Ha! Cheers!

May 4, 2012 at 12:07 pm
(49) bex says:

hmmm.. I’ve been tending bar for over 15 yrs. I perfer to be called an “Intoxicologist.”

July 2, 2012 at 7:00 pm
(50) JustALowlyGreatBartender says:

I can only echo what Bill Stevens said………

I myself, am just a lowly, over experienced bartender who has tended bar from Philadelphia to New York City to Las Vegas learning what I thought was a skilled trade along the way and becoming extremely good at it. No, I didn’t just sling beer and apple martinis and red headed sluts, I also learned classic cocktails, learned dealing with people, and learned most importantly that effort into a drink plus personality = $$$$$$$$$

Enter mixology……

Now I’m just a useless, 35 year old bartender (ewwwwwwwww) who is great at what I do but am not sprinkling bacon dust into my stirred, orange bittered Noah’s Mill manhattan with a bow tie strangling my pony tailed head. Just pumping out drinks at a high rate, with high sales, while maintaining a conversation and making people laugh with NJ sarcasm…..

Am I bitter towards mixology because it has made me almost obsolete? Not at all, in fact I enjoy a lot of the stuff that is on cocktail menus nowadays (I live in LA). But do all of these ‘mixologists’ take pride in their work and ‘craft’? NOOOOOOOO – they are actors and actresses making a fast buck between gigs, take 5 minutes to make a drink, give you a smug attitude if dare I ask (can you shake my manhattan?) and have the f*&^$ing gall to add ….ologist to their job titles, something I thought was meant for doctors or scientists?

July 7, 2012 at 2:55 am
(51) Op2mus says:

I’m by no means claiming to be an expert bartender but the whole mixologist title to me just seems pretty pretentious. I will agree that someone that is highly skilled at creating new concoctions could be considered a “mixologist”; however, when you are behind the bar making drinks for paying customers you are a bartender, in my opinion. To me, there is nothing condescending about the term bartender and I don’t find the need to give myself a fancy title to make myself feel more important.
That being said there is huge difference between a good bartender and someone who just dumps booze in a glass, throws in a stir stick and gives you your drink. I don’t know how to make every single drink on earth, but I can make all the classic cocktails well. And when I make them I do my best to put that extra bit of love in to the drink that sets it apart from most of the drinks that many bartenders serve. Maybe it’s because I have a long background in the kitchen and I have a sense of pride knowing that when I make a dish or a drink I know it’s not something that just anyone can duplicate at home without having put in the years of work making that drink thousands of times to the point where you can tell if just the slightest detail is off just by looking at it.

August 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm
(52) Alex says:

Everyone has the ability to be a mixologist, not just those who know pour counts and shot recipes. When we were kids, did you not mix your soda from the fountain just like everyone else? Although some people may be more qualified and to call themselves a mixologist, nobody has the same pallet. It all depends on what you enjoy flavor wise, and finding common ground with people.

August 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm
(53) Manu says:

“Bartending is an old and honorable trade. It is not a profession and I have no sympathy with those who try to make it anything more than what it was. The idea of calling a bartender professor or mixologist is nonsense.”

-Patrick Gavin Duffy,
From the foreword of his book
THE OFFICIAL MIXER’S MANUAL (c) 1934

November 1, 2012 at 11:09 pm
(54) Rick Culver says:

Well to me a bartender makes drinks a mixoligist make drinks and foods.

November 15, 2012 at 8:28 am
(55) tara lehman says:

mixologist is a really good bartender. one that has the skill of correctly mixing drink recipes. Not trying to give you a stiff one and screwing up the measurements. They are that way for a reasonThere is an art to making drinks. just like a chef creates artful tasteful food.

Mixologist an expierenced Bartender a Professional. not someone pooring beers to pay there way through college:) got it.

20yr Mixologist Baretender. And a mighty good one at that!

December 4, 2012 at 9:05 am
(56) Mixolot says:

I am a trained mixologist who studied my trade for three years! Bartenders have nowhere the knowledge a qualified mixologist does when it comes to making cocktails. I have many awards to prove that!

January 26, 2013 at 12:41 pm
(57) mary says:

There was always a difference between mixologists and bartenders. And it’s only recently that the term mixologist became trendy and negative. I used to drink at a bar in New Orleans where the owners/bartenders were nearly 80y.o. Those two guys were mixologists, 100%. They stopped serving beer after 5pm. You’d go in, sit at the bar and instead of asking for a specific drink, they’d ask what type of alcohol you were looking for. Then they’d mix you something unique and devastatingly strong. I always called them mixologists bc that’s what they were. They invented and created mixed drinks. A true mixologist not only knows how to mix any and all cocktails, they know their ingredients and can be creative. New Orleans has always been the heart of cocktails and the home of mixology.

March 24, 2013 at 1:59 am
(58) Chris.T says:

@(25) Kb- there IS a certification for Mixologists. The first step is actually to become a Spirits Professional, the next is Advanced Bartender…. and no…. Just because you use infused liquor doesn’t mean that you have the skills to be one. The next and final step is the Master Mixologist. Chefs, cooks, and sommeliers are great examples of defining mixologists. Steve Biel, a teacher of mine, is one of 5 whiskey masters in the world helping create Bulleit Bourbon among other things. He is also one of the people that certifies bartenders into a Master Mixologist. Tests, writing a thesis, all of that stuff is included in earning your rank. I will soon be a Certified Master Mixologist, but still call myself a bartender. One of the reasons why some bartenders call themselves mixologists is because of the time and dedication they put into the craft of the cocktail. It’s a shame to be classified in the same category as someone who is doing it for extra cash, and not for the art. Would you like to be called a line cook when you are actually the executive chef?

@(23)Mike at the Marriott- not to be a douche…. But if you ARE a mixologist, then you SHOULD know that Vesper Martinis cannot be made…. 2 ingredients in it like the Kina Lillet, for example, stopped existing decades ago.

April 18, 2013 at 9:40 am
(59) EC says:

To “KB” – There is a special certification process that one goes through to be able to call themselves a “Mixologist.” I am 100% sure that the certification that I hold in my field says “Mixology” on it and not “Bartending,” as well as I went to school to become a “Mixologist” and not a “Bartender.”

Where they basically do the same kinds of jobs, a mixologist spends their time finding out why a drink works the way it does and bartender will just simply make you the drink. It’s like going to the doctor and calling them a “Doctor” and not a “Surgeon.” They’re different terms for the same thing, but a Surgeon is a more specialized field, with other various fields inside it. It’s also like calling a Chef a “line cook.” The chef understands what they’re making and can create new dishes, where the line cook just prepares what the chef tells them to.

One restaurant I worked for had a “bartender” that worked there for 15 years before I got there. The man was a great bartender, but he didn’t understand the science that goes behind making a drink or a cocktail, so when it came time to make someone the “Head Bartender” I was chosen for the job, because I went the extra mile and fully learned and understood my craft. There are subtle differences in the service that you will get from a Bartender and a Mixologist, just like you can tell the difference at an establishment if someone is a Manager and worked their way to that position or if someone went to school and got their Associates in “Hospitality Management.” There will always be someone out there that goes that extra mile to make sure that the customers are getting what they deserve for their money.

May 11, 2013 at 8:03 pm
(60) helder filipe says:

a chef or a cook? a lawyer or a barester?try to know the difference and then you will find the gap between them

May 15, 2013 at 5:29 pm
(61) Steven says:

Bartender is full if personality…..”micilogist” is full if bs.

Bartender asks what you would like and gives it to you….”mixologist” gives you what he / she thinks you should have.

May 23, 2013 at 5:28 am
(62) David says:

Hi all, don’t mean to be rude but to all saying that the mixologist is a douche or it’s just glorified, clearly they have never worked in the trade .. or if they did, they are level in which they can tend a bar mix maybe a pina colada in a decent standard and think thats it. Mixology is alive you are always learning and experimenting, you know the properties of every single item being used in your recipes and balance accordingly it’s very different than tending a bar in an average level. There’s so much to learn and the experience you need is great for you to be called a mixologist, Every one can stay behind a bar serving a beer and a g&t but only experienced bartenders/mixologists can turn your short stay into an experience. Calling a novice bartender a mixologist is like changing a bulb and say that you are an engineer.
Cheers all !!

June 1, 2013 at 12:43 pm
(63) BEN says:

What to do you call a bartender without a personality? A MIXOLOGIST.

Mixology is a pretentious “euphimism”. Please, if you are a mixologist, stay out of behind the bar; and stay in your “lab”. Keep your out of date mustache with you!!

June 10, 2013 at 10:16 am
(64) Bill says:

@Ben – Haha, nailed it!

June 16, 2013 at 4:13 pm
(65) Nick says:

I’ve watched so many “mixologist ” get laughed out of the bar at high end and high vollume establishments. I saw two mixologist think they created the cocaine shooter and lemon drop. Plain and simple mixologists are a joke basically a title to con dumbass frat boys and stuck u0 girls out of more cash! Most mixologist can’t tell the difference between single malt scotch and scotch whiskey by taste! Lol get over it, you are all for show

July 1, 2013 at 6:38 pm
(66) Al says:

I think a bartender is just a person that should have a certain personality, and can stand behind a bar and follow instructions on how to make drinks, and serve them to customers. They’re even better bartenders if they can memorize how to make them and what they’re called.
A “mixologist” is someone that understands the basics behind mixing drinks or ingredients. They understand the elements that make a good drink. Kinda like a chef. They can balance sweet, bitter, sour, spicy, salty, etc flavors, with aromas and make something that people enjoy. They understand why different alcoholic beverages are unique. Why is a tequila a tequila and a rum rum? Well, that one is really simple but you get the point. Why is there a different glass for white and red wines? What is a beer? What types of beers are there and how are they all different?
That being said, a mixologist can easily be a bartender as well, if he’s got the bartender personality and is behind a bar serving drinks to people. Except he’s a really good bartender. A mixologist doesn’t need to memorize instructions and names, instead he can just use his knowledge to make drinks and add to what he knows when making a drink that’s new to him.
A bartender can become a mixologist if he’s passionate about what he does and wants to learn more, and never stop learning.

July 1, 2013 at 6:48 pm
(67) Al says:

Oh and I would grade bartenders with an A, B C, D or F, like an assignment in school. An F for a bartender that can’t even follow instructions. He’s simply a bartender because he’s behind a bar. D for a bartender that can follow instructions, that’s the lowest passing grade. An A for a great bartender, he can recommend a drink to you according to your taste and tell you a little bit about the history behind the name of the drink, the drink itself, etc.

September 19, 2013 at 2:17 pm
(68) kelly says:

I feel that there is a slight difference between the two. Whereas a mixologist comes up with a lot more various custom drinks then a bartender, a bartender could handle a over crowded bar better than a mixologist. This and other examples are some of the distinctions between the two.But as A bartender for many many years I feel that I have established some of the qualities of a mixologist hence making me both. Therefore bartenders eventually become both by default if they’re good at what they do.

December 20, 2013 at 6:06 am
(69) David says:

My other post is number (62). I consider my self going to mixologist FROM being a good bartender for long years :) And i fully agree with ginmarsni’ when saying he should get what he asks for… of course that’s what we people in hospitality and catering are there for, I never judge someones drink taste / idea! If you want pineapple juice in your dry martini and ask for it by the bar, you will definitely get it, I only give advises when they are asked for by the guest in front of me. A good mixologist isn’t going to force you drinks like some of these posts suggest, in fact i consider having such knowledge to go around it and make the perfect drink for the person in front of you according to his tastes… it’s the other way round! I’m also a brand ambassador locally for a brand of whisky and never in one of my sessions I try to force on people how to enjoy it! I promote ways for tasting on order to discover different aspects of the spirit BUT never state in which way you should drink your whisky! have it with green tea like they do in asia, with coke, water, ice , ginger … you name it, it’s your taste. A mixologist is very good at what he does, but nonetheless needds that good old bartender attitude deep down!! your still working in a bar :) and we love it!!!!

Cheers all
David

March 8, 2014 at 3:34 am
(70) Justin Taylor says:

Like a cook to a chef, a bartender can execute great drinks by following guidelines and recipes. A mixologist defines those guidelines and sets the recipes. A mixologist will continually seek the education to present a flavour in an unique way that consumers crave. A bartender can entertain, engage, create ambiance, set mood, fill rooms, and perform. So in our industry, as we try endlessly to make the consumer happy, we cannot have one without the other.

March 31, 2014 at 3:10 pm
(71) TJIndy says:

I think it’s funny that people think that a “mixologist” gives you the drink they want you to have. No that’s just a poor, arrogant bartender. There is actual study that goes into being a Master Mixologist. They understand the history of the product. They also spend time creating brand new items (not to be confused with mixing drinks). Trus Mixologist usually work in labs and behind the scenes at this point in their career, even though they probably started behind a bar, and wanted to advance in their craft. Just as their are CNA’s, PA’s and RN’s you don’t look down on any of the positions or discredit them they are just at different levels in their field. Some are comfortable where they are, some have choosen to seek additional education and advance.

I do believe quite a few good even great Bartenders have labeled themselves incorrectly as Mixologist.

Thoughts of a “great bartender”

April 3, 2014 at 12:51 pm
(72) TheRealWorld says:

mixologist (plural mixologists) – A person who creates cocktails; a bartender.

My definition of a mixologist – Pompous ass; a douchebag of the bottle. You could even call them a mixolodouche (plural mixolodouche) – you see what I did there.

A mixologist find themselves down talking any individual who has interest in bartending, they are snobs of the nightlife, ones who mix ingredients that nobody desires, and drinks Fernet.

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