Food & Drink Magazine

The Difference Between Being A Mixologist And A Bartender

By Waiterstoday @Waiters_Today

The Difference Between Being A Mixologist And A BartenderNot all bartenders are mixologist.  If you think they are, then you probably think that all cooks are chefs.  There is a difference between the two that can best be illustrated by a personal experience I had at an upscale Chicago restaurant who is know for their cocktail menu.  Having a hard time trying to choose between the abundance of tasty drinks, I asked the bartender what her recommendation was.  Her response..."A shot and a beer."  Humorous, yes.  Usual drink of choice, yes.  But if I wanted a shot and a beer, I would have went to a pub where the cost would have been cut in about half.  She was obviously not a mixologist.  So I ordered a shot and a beer.

I compared her attitude to my own when I'm bartending, and to my co-workers.  When asked this question by the lost patrons at our bar looking to try something new, there is never any hesitation on our parts to find out what they usually like, and then make them something new.  First of all, it allows us to steer them away from the over-ordered, over-appreciated mojito.  And second, we bartend because we love mixology.

Mixology is the refined practice and study of mixing drinks and pushing the limits of classic bartending.  One of the more recent styles of mixology is molecular mixology.  Like molecular gastronomy, the use of scientific techniques are used to created new flavors, textures, and visuals.  This usually incorporates things like foams, gels, liquid nitrogen, mists, ect. A fun twist to mixology, but not really necessary.  Sticking to the natural ingredients can be just as fun.  Also, not only does mixology please the crowds, it makes going to work a little more fun and exciting.  If you're not really sure how to get started, here are some tips.

1.  Take classic cocktails and add a twist

Martinis, cosmos, old fashions, manhattans.  The list can go on.  Do simple things to add a new twist to these traditions. A simple liquer replacement, or a simple syrup infused with a new ingredient are just some of many different things you can do to update these blasts from the past.

2.  Visit and sample other restaurants' drink menus

Research and development outings are one of the best ways to check out what others are doing.  Not to mention you get to be on the other side of the bar for a change.  Hopefully you'll have better luck with the bartender's response if you ask what's good.  Don't be afraid to try something that sounds like it wouldn't taste good together.  Sometimes these odd combos are the best surprises.

3.  Check out magazines and online sources

By doing this you expand your knowledge to what others are doing in different cities and countries.  Check out what others are doing, then try to recreate it in your own bar.  Once you've tried their recipes, see if there's something different you can add or change to make it your own.

4.  Use inspiration and ingredients from the kitchen

Talented mixologist are often compared to talented chefs.  Both manipulate their ingredients to create mouthwatering treats.  If an amazing batch of peaches were delivered that day, see if you can use some for a special cocktail. Maybe a seasonal produce is being used on a dish, more than likely it can also be used in a drink.  Not to mention, collaborating with your chef is always an option.  They may think of a good pairing you didn't.

5.  Practice, taste, repeat

Obviously you're not going to get drunk at work.  But use some down time to try out a new recipe.  If you don't get it right, collaborate with fellow bartenders and servers on what should be done to make it better.  If the experiment is a success, run it as a drink special.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to mixology.  All it really takes is the curiosity and passion to make it happen.

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