Are there any substantial differences between a bartender and a mixologist? This is a question that has not only dominated the social circle of fun seekers; it is also a question that regular people have asked with no answer in particular. The term, bartending dates back to the 1800s, while mixology dates back to circa 1800 to 1900. Many people never bothered about distinguishing between the two, but with the professional space pointing out that they are two different things, there is a need to set the records straight.

A bartender is an individual who is passionate about making great drinks and creating well-balanced experiences with the guests and customers in a bar. A bartender is a person who serves mostly alcoholic drinks behind a bar or a lounge while taking care of the maintenance of the supplies and stock for the bar or the establishment while a mixologist is an individual with a passion for combining elixirs and creating exceptional cocktails. The word mixology is often seen as an umbrella, and then a mixologist is someone who is dedicated to that study. While a mixologist has the intent that everything they put out is measured by the quality and taste. A bartender, on the other hand, is measured by the quantity of their output and how satisfied the guest or customer is by the service delivery. a mixologist does not need to concern himself with the delivery of service. Many have argued that there exists no substantial difference between a bartender and a mixologist. It is further argued that any bar of substance only needs a bartender to function effectively in its service delivery. It is believed that the word mixologist was introduced to elevate the profession and only in the corporate world can the term mixologist make sense especially if the person works in a corporate liquor company, but if he were to work or function in a bar. Primarily, a mixologist serves drinks; bartenders serve people.

By being able to mix drinks and make flavored alcoholic combinations, one is considered a bartender, and to be called a mixologist, many believed it is a fancy elevation of bartending. But, for people who are a bit sentimental about the two titles’ interchangeability, they think that a mixologist is a chef who not only creates but pushes the limit of what mixed cocktails can be, and on the other hand, a bartender is just a person who tends a bar. According to Mac Gregory, the Director of Food and beverage for Starwood Hotels; there is no dichotomy between a bartender and a mixologist, because “a mixologist where a bartender leaves off mixology begins.” He maintains that one is a logical extension of the other. He went further to say, while a bartender requires no professional touch or expertise, he can still function as a bartender without being a mixologist, but no mixologist can function without first being a bartender.

To many, what is important in being a mixologist is the acquisition of knowledge to improve skills and the diligence that naturally comes with the process of being a mixologist. Bartending to them mostly requires no foreknowledge or specialty or skills. It is considered crude and of no corporate importance. Usually, the knowledge of a bartender does not extend beyond knowing the specific ingredients used in a particular cocktail but a mixologist is more concerned with those ingredients are used, the order in which they are used and the proportions in which they are used. Mixologists can talk all day about premium vodkas, local gins, spiced rum, and perfectly aged bourbon. Not only can they describe every type of spirit, but they can also tell you why and what makes a drink so tasteful and the history of each ingredient. Suffice to say that mixologists take their expert knowledge of a variety of drinks and create and recreate innovative drinks and cocktails that explore the boundary of flavors. Initially, the term mixologist was first used in the year 1856 in New Orleans.

Many a time, mixologists look at anything edible and begin to brainstorm what amazing concoctions they can make out of them. The dichotomy between a bartender and a mixologist can be likened to the debate between a chef and a waiter, and it is one that is not going away anytime soon. A bartender mixes drinks, and so does a mixologist. The only difference appears in the way and manner in which they go about it and the touch of class and professionalism that comes with one or the other. Suffice to say it is going to be very difficult for a customer to decipher if the person pouring his drink is a bartender or a mixologist and probably because most people don’t even know about the term mixology. To many, anyone who serves mixes drinks in a lounge or bar is simply a bartender.

Indeed, most mixologists begin their careers as bartenders before acquiring more skills to qualify them to be called a mixologist. Meaning, to be a mixologist, one has to have gone through the entire learning process which begins from being a bartender. And professionally it is advised that one takes a bartending course and become a certified bartender. This certification makes one proficient at making every and any drink and expand your knowledge, which makes your drinks special. In essence, by being a bartender, one is considered to be just a regular drink maker and it only a job description but everything changes the moment the title mixologist is used, as it is like having a “Ph.D.” in mixing of drinks. As mixology is considered an advanced degree to bartending. Mixology has often been considered a natural extension of bartending as it is more of a superior title that shows that a mixologist can be likened to a senior bartender.


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