If you’ve ever gotten a drink at a bar, you’ve probably been served by either a mixologist or bartender. Working behind the bar, these drink experts fashion both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks with what seems to be the greatest of ease. Some even make an attraction out of it. But be careful not to get these two different professions mixed up. There is actually a pretty significant difference between a mixologist and a bartender. When you know what it is, you’ll learn to appreciate each of their crafts a lot more.
What is mixology?
In order to define what a mixologist is, it’s good to understand what their craft is first. Mixology is the art and skill of crafting cocktails or mocktails out of various ingredients. While there are overlaps between mixology and bartending, the former mostly works behind the scenes in creating the perfect drink.
What is bartending?
In comparison, bartending is a more forward-facing job. Bartenders interact with customers directly. They do everything from taking the customer’s orders, making the drinks, and sometimes even handling the payments. While bartenders also create cocktails, these are normally existing recipes and not innovated. Bartenders could also be mixologists, but not every mixologist can be a bartender.
Mixologist job description
In addition to coming up with new and unique cocktail recipes, mixologists also focus on the following tasks:
- Advise restaurants and bars and helping these institutions develop exciting cocktail menus as a consultant
- Stay updated with the latest industry trends in order to come up with the best innovative drinks
- Man the bar on occasion, or work behind the bar to supervise bartenders that are putting together a new recipe
- Keep in mind thee rich history of cocktails
Bartender job description
Bartenders are not only in charge of making drinks for customers. They also need to:
- Handle customer payments
- Keep the bar well stocked up so that none of the drinks run out
- Manage crowds during full nights to make sure drinks and customers flow well and don’t overcrowd the bar
- Maintain good customer service throughout the shift
- Maintain a good relationship, especially with returning customers
Now do you see the distinction between the two? As Pike, a bar manager in Los Angeles puts it, “A mixologist cares about the drink. A bartender cares about the customer.” The two professions are intertwined, but have a significantly different focus. But at the end of the day, they are complementary jobs which help the other function better.