Day in the Life of a Mixologist: The Perfect Mixer
Meet a special breed of bartender: the mixologist. No ordinary dispenser of bar favorites, this specialist weaves magic with drink ingredients to create the stunning concoctions that can make or break a hospitality establishment, party or special event.
What makes them different?
Mixologists are certainly expected to know how to create the classics, but where they shine is in experimenting with a wide range of beverages to find tomorrow’s classics and introduce them to an increasingly sophisticated public. There’s more creativity and freedom to create the concoctions you want.
As far as skills go, mixologists need to know, of course, how to mix great drinks. A bartender with any experience believes he or she can invent drinks. To a degree, they’re creative and there’s a flair to their job, but there's a lot more to the job than just knowing how to mix a basic cocktail.
Just as chefs do not want to be confused with mere “cooks,” mixologists want the respect that comes with creating cocktails that are a notch above the work of “set ‘em up Joe” bartenders. In a sense, they are "beverage scientists" trying out different types of alcohol combinations and working magic with ingredients the way the top chefs create signature dishes from their own recipes.
- Mixologists working in a bar or restaurant will need to master the basics of bartending, from customer service and drink preparation to cleaning, inventory control and social responsibility. But duties also include:
- Advanced knowledge of spirits, wine and beer as well as mixes and garnishes.
- Glassware and equipment expertise.
- Spirits brands expertise. Knowledgeable diners now expect you to be able to recommend and mix drinks by brand.
- Chemistry – what to mix together to create outstanding cocktails
Thanks to TV shows like Sex in the City, cocktail culture has captured the imagination of today’s consumers. Hospitality schools are answering the call for more bartending and mixology training with specially designed courses, often within the culinary arts curriculum and leading to a college diploma or certificate. You can expect to combine TIPS- and SmartServe-type courses and bartending basics with hands-on, on-the-job training. Mixology courses take bartending to the next level: from the standards, you begin to work with new equipment and ingredients, and this is where your own artistry can come into play as you dazzle your friends and colleagues with new cocktail combos.
Not all mixologists attend formal courses to learn their craft, preferring to work their way up in bars and restaurants. A top notch mixologist can expect to find work in high-end hospitality establishments, command a more attractive salary than a “regular” bartender, and garner handsome gratuities.