I mean no offense, but I am not a fan of the “mixologist” craze. My opinion should carry limited weight since I do not drink. I have spent almost the entirety of my adult life working with bartenders though and feel qualified to share an opinion.
There are three things that make a bartender great:
1) They Make Drinks Fast
2) They Make Drinks That Taste Good
3) They Are Welcoming To Their Guests
You might notice that tight vests, homemade bitters, ironic facial hair, ice cubes made of glacial ice, and a disdain for guests did not make the cut. This is because outside of the insulated world of Hipstertopia it is far less important that the drink contain three type of homemade bitters than that it arrives before a well-done porterhouse. Great bartenders don’t care what you order. Great bartenders paid for their houses slinging Bud Light. Great bartenders have been through the fads before and recognize that PBR is just the Zima of this generation. Great bartenders know more about Scotch than Absinthe.
Most importantly, great bartenders know that they are bartenders and are proud of it. There are hundreds of things that go into bartender that go far beyond mixing drinks. A bartender is a prepper, a counselor, a confidant, a cleaner, a fruit fly terminator, a friendly face, a peacekeeper, a dishwasher, an inventory monitor, a cab caller, a diplomat, and they also make drinks. To call a bartender a mixologist is like calling a janitor a mopologist. It is just a small part of what they great ones do.
Over a decade ago, I worked with a waiter named Jim who taught me to be proud of being a waiter. Note that I say waiter and not server. Jim hated being called a server. He said it was my generations way of making themselves feel like they were better than a waiter. He was quick to point out that he worked with waiters that would run circles around any server he ever met. He was proud to be part of a tradition of great waiters. He couldn’t say the same for all the servers he saw coming out of chain restaurants.
I know how Jim felt. Some of my favorite people in the world are bartenders. The best bartender I have ever known would laugh at you if you called her a mixologist. She takes pride in being part of a rich heritage of bartenders. If you step behind the bar, you should too. There is no reason to besmirch that heritage by trying to call yourself something different. Especially if it takes you longer to make a drink than it took for me to write this post.