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