What Is Mixology?

Posted by Someone 2024.02.07 21:06  •  Comments (64)  • 

Skip to Content button button SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS Recipes Breakfast & Brunch Lunch Appetizers & Snacks Dinner Desserts Side Dishes Breads Cocktails View all By Region American Food Asian Food European Food Latin American Food Middle Eastern Food African Food Australian Food View all Ingredients Chicken Recipes Beef Recipes Pork Recipes Fish & Seafood Fruit & Veggie Recipes Cheese Recipes View all Occasions Super Bowl Valentine's Day Mardi Gras Soup Season Winter Recipes Seasonal Produce View all How-Tos Learning How to Cook Cooking Techniques & Tips Cooking Equipment Knife Skills Ingredients What to Buy View all What to Buy How We Test Products Small Appliances Cookware Grills & Grilling Coffee & Tea Kitchen Gadgets Storage & Organization Bakeware This Is Fire! View all News The Rice Package Voices Trends View all About us About Us Editorial Guidelines Anti-Racism Pledge Newsletters Contact Us Follow us: Cooking School Culinary Glossary

What Is Mixology?

A Guide to Mixology and Mixologists

By Colleen Graham Colleen Graham Freelance writer and cocktail book author Colleen Graham is a seasoned mixologist who loves sharing her knowledge of spirits and passion for preparing drinks. Learn about The Spruce Eats' Editorial Process Updated on 09/12/22 Trending Videos

Kimberly White/Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images for Jack Daniel's Single Barrel

In the modern cocktail scene, the terms "mixology" and "mixologist" are a regular part of bar vocabulary. They often describe a particular style of mixing cocktails and the professionals who practice it. The question is: What makes a mixologist different than a bartender? The answer is not easy because the two job titles are so intertwined, and the skillsets required in both careers often overlap.

What Is Mixology?

At its most basic, mixology is another term for mixing drinks or bartending, and a mixologist is another title for a bartender or bar chef. However, mixology is generally accepted as an in-depth approach to the art and craft of mixing drinks. Think of it as studying the chemistry of drinks, and the mixologist as the professional who practices that.

In "The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails," contributor Derek Brown mentions that the word mixologist was first printed in an 1856 edition of Knickerbocker Magazine and regularly used by the 1870s. Merriam-Webster's dictionary dates mixology to 1872 and defines it as "the art or skill of preparing mixed drinks ." It defines "bartender" as "a person who serves drinks at a bar" and was first documented in 1825. Fundamentally, the difference is both clear and ambiguous.

Mixology s definition and its use are debated in the professional bartending community. It usually has to do with the impression that a mixologist is more skilled than a bartender. This simply isn t so. Neither one is "better" than the other; each requires both the same and a different set of skills, and the two titles are often used interchangeably.

The Mixologist

Some mixologists regularly work behind a bar, and others do not. Still, others put in years as a bartender before moving onto a career path that one might better define as mixology. In the bar industry, it s generally accepted that a mixologist is someone who:

Studies and attempts to contribute to the evolution of the field of bartending Creates innovative cocktails , often using unique, housemade, or historical (and now uncommon) ingredients Researches and reimagines classic cocktails while reviving or refining the techniques used by previous generations of bartenders A sort of cocktail historian and revolutionary rolled into one

Mixologists are also known for making a name for themselves in cocktail literature . For instance, Tony Abou-Ganim's nickname is "The Modern Mixologist," and one of his most popular books shares that title. The late Gary "Gaz" Regan authored "The Joy of Mixology," which many in the industry view as an essential resource for bartenders.

Many mixologists also take on consulting jobs. Often working with distilled spirit companies, they help develop cocktails and promote the brand at public events.

The Bartender

The title "bartender" conjures up images of men and women who can whip out 20 mixed drinks and 50 draws of beer before anyone knows what happened. They are a talented, multi-tasking group that can do all that while keeping a crowded bar happy, lively, and tipping.

A bartender needs to have a variety of essential skills, some of which a mixologist may not develop or use on a regular basis. Beyond preparing drinks, a bartender needs to:

Memorize the most common and popular cocktails Serve many people at once Handle cash and manage bar stock Maintain crowd control Be the ultimate "people person" and think quickly

While hospitality is a large part of the job, career bartenders are just as talented as mixologists when crafting cocktails. Spending so much time behind the bar gives them insight into consumer tastes and the latest trends while allowing them to hone their craft. These talented bartenders developed many of the most impressive and innovative cocktail recipes.

The Debate Continues (or Not)

Of course, both of these definitions are just stereotypes. Many fine mixing professionals fall into both categories, and many more specialize in one or the other. The field is simply too vast and has too many career opportunities to lump everyone into one or two convenient definitions.

Each position in the cocktail scene has its own merits, yet the debate continues in the professional bartending community. In fact, many pros behind the stick are against the use of "mixology" altogether, even if they re someone that others would consider a mixologist.

What Is Molecular Mixology? Article Sources The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

Wondrich D, Rothbaum N, eds.  The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails . 1st ed. Oxford University Press; 2022.

Culinary Glossary Drinks & Cocktails Bartending 101: Essential Techniques, Tips, and Tricks The 8 Best Bitters for Whiskey Cocktails with Flavor The 7 Best Cocktail Shakers of 2024 The 9 Best Bartending and Cocktail Books in 2024 The Best Bar in North America Wants You to Drink Your Sticky Rice The Best Cheap Whiskeys To Drink in 2024, According to a Mixologist 30 Best Classic and Modern Martini Recipes The One Bottle of Cocktail Bitters We Can t Live Without The 8 Best Cocktail Smokers of 2024, Tested and Reviewed Gin Every Bar Should Stock The Best Cocktail Muddlers for Proper Juleps, Mojitos, and More Five Reasons Why You Shouldn t Go to Bartending School The 7 Best Sweet and Sour Mixes in 2024 What Is Molecular Mixology? The Anejo Highball 3 mins Ratings Bartender s Guide to the Most Popular Bar Drinks Get daily tips and expert advice to help you take your cooking skills to the next level. Follow us: Recipes Cocktails By Region Ingredients Occasions How-Tos What to Buy About Us Advertise Terms of Service Careers Anti-Racism Pledge Editorial Guidelines Privacy Policy Contact Newsletters EU Privacy The Spruce Eats is part of the Dotdash Meredith publishing family. Please review our updated Terms of Service .

We Care About Your Privacy

We and our 1609 partners store and/or access information on a device, such as unique IDs in cookies to process personal data. You may accept or manage your choices by clicking below, including your right to object where legitimate interest is used, or at any time in the privacy policy page. These choices will be signaled to our partners and will not affect browsing data.

We and our partners process data to provide:

Store and/or access information on a device. Use limited data to select advertising. Create profiles for personalised advertising. Use profiles to select personalised advertising. Create profiles to personalise content. Use profiles to select personalised content. Measure advertising performance. Measure content performance. Understand audiences through statistics or combinations of data from different sources. Develop and improve services. Use limited data to select content. List of Partners (vendors)

Accept All Reject All Show Purposes