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Chapel Tavern

"Master Mixologist"?

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I know we all see this term used a lot in articles, promos and the like, and even here on egullet, but what meaning does it really carry? I know there are some bartending/mixology schools out there, some good, most bad, that offer certifications of some type but what, in your opinions, qualifies as the right credentials for a person to apply to term to themselves?

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I think the best credentials are shot knees, worn out elbow joints, scarred liver...

Toby

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I kind of feel like that's the kind of term that people who merit it aren't generally going to self-apply.

Edit: superfluous pronouns


Edited by thirtyoneknots (log)

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I would agree. The best, I know, behind the stick want to be called batenders.

There is the BAR program here in NYC run by (I hope this is right) Wondrich, Degroff, and Olson. I'm sure that the amount you would learn, and laugh, should qualify you for some sort of something to hang on your wall in your corner office.

Toby

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The whole "master" part of it is folderol.

As for "mixologist," I suppose it has two possible meanings...

The first would simply be "cocktailian bartender." This is not too terribly useful, in my opinion, and probably a good reason why these guys prefer to be called simply "bartenders."

The second would be to denote someone who designs and creates cocktails, and differentiate that person from someone who prepares cocktails and tends a cocktail bar. These are two different skill sets that are often, but not always combined. There are some "mixologists" who don't tend bar and/or may not be particularly skilled at bartending (which involves a lot more than just making the cocktails properly... there is the element of speed, consistency under pressure, keeping track of multiple tabs, paying sufficient attention to different groups of customers, etc.). And there are some cocktailian "bartenders" who may not be the best at creating new cocktails. To me, this is the only useful and meaningful application of "mixologist."

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I think the best credentials are shot knees, worn out elbow joints, scarred liver...

Toby

Tell me about it. We have steel floors at my bar and even with thick rubber mats by the end of the week I limp to the shower in the morning. Or maybe I'm just getting old....

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The whole "master" part of it is folderol.

As for "mixologist," I suppose it has two possible meanings...

The first would simply be "cocktailian bartender."  This is not too terribly useful, in my opinion, and probably a good reason why these guys prefer to be called simply "bartenders."

The second would be to denote someone who designs and creates cocktails, and differentiate that person from someone who prepares cocktails and tends a cocktail bar.  These are two different skill sets that are often, but not always combined.  There are some "mixologists" who don't tend bar and/or may not be particularly skilled at bartending (which involves a lot more than just making the cocktails properly... there is the element of speed, consistency under pressure, keeping track of multiple tabs, paying sufficient attention to different groups of customers, etc.).  And there are some cocktailian "bartenders" who may not be the best at creating new cocktails.  To me, this is the only useful and meaningful application of "mixologist."

There is another level, with a legitimate title once you have mastered the two stated above, where you start adding more skill sets. Fun things like hiring, firing, making a schedule, looking at liquor cost, inventory, peacemaker, schmoozer, stoop sweeper, toilet plunger ect…

Owner.

Toby

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I have never met a decent bartender who would ever call themselves a mixologist let alone a master mixologist. Smacks of pretention and if I saw it on a cv I would probably stop reading right there!!! Same goes for bar chef!!!

People who use this term probably spend more time on forums like this and messing around in their secret bar laboratory than they actually do behind a real bar, serving real people!

RM

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That's a point with some merit, if inelegantly put.

I would like to point out, however, that there are plenty of people out there designing amazing cocktails who are not making their day-to-day living "behind a real bar, serving real people." Indeed, some of the most reknown creators of cocktails working today no longer put in a regular shift behind the bar. For example, here in NYC Julie Reiner and Audrey Saunders aren't doing 4 nights a week behind their bars, and it's not clear to me that Dave Wondrich has ever made his living behind the bar shaking out cocktails.

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maybe "classic bartender?" Denotes a higher standard or either service, ingredients, technique, or all three. Most bartenders I know feels a little silly when a parton applies a term like "bar chef" or "master mixologist" to them.

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one with crappy knees and an elbow that clicks a little too often...

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I usually say "cocktailian bartender" to describe a working bartender with knowledge and skills at making cocktails.

I should point out that I am neither "for" nor "against" the word "mixologist." That said, I do think there is a useful distinction to be made between the skill of creating cocktails and the skill of preparing cocktails. I would propose to call the former "mixology" and the latter "bartending" -- but perhaps there are other words that suffice. I have the sense, however, that it's not quite appropriate to call someone who makes a living as a consultant who designs cocktails and cocktail lists for bars and restaurants, or as a writer who creates cockails for columns and books a "bartender."


Edited by slkinsey (log)

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That's a point with some merit, if inelegantly put.

I would like to point out, however, that there are plenty of people out there designing amazing cocktails who are not making their day-to-day living "behind a real bar, serving real people."  Indeed, some of the most reknown creators of cocktails working today no longer put in a regular shift behind the bar.  For example, here in NYC Julie Reiner and Audrey Saunders aren't doing 4 nights a week behind their bars, and it's not clear to me that Dave Wondrich has ever made his living behind the bar shaking out cocktails.

I think this is a case where a 'Mixologist' is something distinct from a 'bartender' and one of the few places where they word could have a useful application.

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slkinsey,

Valid point, elegantly made :biggrin: !

However, I doubt that these individuals would call themselves mixologists (apologies if i´m wrong). My experience in the States is limited but in Asia and Europe it just is not a moniker that serious afficionados would use.

RM


Edited by cax77uk (log)

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The word mixologist is just absurd. At 7 I combined every liquid in the fridge and declared myself a mixologist. And once I had completed the research for and improved upon a Suicide, altering the proportions of Orange Crush, Sprite, Rootbeer, Coke, and Grape Soda at the roller rink when I was 9, I maximized my mixing skills. They're the same skills I use when deciding the best vodka to cranberry to ice ratio. Could one really argue A Death in the Afternoon is any better at a 2:5 ratio than it is at a 3:7? Mixing is the job of a Mixologist. The word is awkward, pretentious and dull.

I prefer amalgamatologist.


Edited by Troy Sidle (log)

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And once I had completed the research for and improved upon a Suicide, altering the proportions of Orange Crush, Sprite, Rootbeer, Coke, and Grape Soda at the roller rink when I was 9, I maximized my mixing skills.

Priceless.

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I live in Portland OR and we've got several places that make good cocktails and one place, the Teardrop Lounge, where the cocktails are ethereal - I usually call the bartender there by his first name - Daniel. :biggrin:

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A Master Mixologist is a jackass who is full of itself who makes drinks. I have never once heard anyone who could be considered a master mixologist( if there ever could be such a thing) refer to themselves as a master mixologists. Considering the people I have seen refer to themselves as master mixologists I wouldn't want to see the good humble BARTENDERS I know blackened in name such.

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If an honorific is needed for the giants of drink-making (in whatever setting), why not borrow the one given to the greatest of all?

"Professor"

It somehow manages to sound less pretentious, to my ear.

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