When it comes to getting employment in a bar, you might find something confusing: the old Mixologist VS Bartender debate. To the untrained eye, there’s no difference. They both help you to get drunk and forget about your day/week/month/year/life, and they both do so with a smile 🙂
What, then, is the difference? It turns out to be a pretty mighty one!
If you want to know what the difference is, read on. We’ll cover the main challenges found in terminology below.
Mixologist VS Bartender: Where to Start
So, the first problem that we have is one of terminology. The problem with things like bartender terms is that everyone seems to have their own answer. Ask a bartender and a mixologist what the job involves and you often varied – disparaging – responses from those who are involved in the first place!
With that in mind, then, let’s take a look at what some of the key differences might happen to be. It may help you to avoid insulting a member of bar staff, if nothing else!
For one, the similarities in both roles come from the fact that both are about making their people happy. Customers want to be satisfied and want to be given the chance to have some fun. You might find, though, that the main difference in the roles comes from the fact that a mixologist is, in the main, a touch more creative.
They often spend the night making new drinks and mixing things upon request. They are like the DJ of the bar; instead of asking for a set beer, cider etc. you pick a crazy sounding cocktail. Therefore, it’s only natural that some people see the mixologist as a more adventurous job.
Often, though, they are dealing with a different job of clientele and thus the job is quite different. A bartender deals with everyone, and will be expected to keep everyone in high spirits. The mixologist has to try and work with a different kind of demographic.
Rather than following orders and trying to keep things as simple as possible like a barman, a mixologist is often expected to take the lead and help people get a better response from experimentation when they are out drinking.
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What Is a Mixologist?
A mixologist is often someone who is expected to be as creative as they are intuitive. When you become a mixologist, the job is all about using your experience and your eye for a good combo in terms of tastes. It’s like being a chef, only with cocktails instead of crusts!
So, the challenge of being a mixologist often stems from the fact that you are part-entertainer, part-creator. A barman will spend much of their time dealing with a lot of drunk people, keeping them calm, plying them with standard booze and making sure they are never losing sight of what is important.
That being said, a mixologist is someone that you can easily work with if you are interested in making a progressive change to how you handle bar work. For many people, it’s a much faster role and thus is likely to give you a more enjoyable, fast-paced night.
You spend most of the time trying to be intelligent with combinations. It means knowing your stuff; something that sells well in winter is likely to be a flop in summer so you need to be good at creating a range of drinks that can work all-year round.
If you manage to do that, though, the tips will flow and the gratitude will show. You will need to learn the collection of syrups, bitters and various other add-ons that will be used in your mixology classes, then you need to be able to do it right. This means taking the time to experiment and collaborate, always looking to make a drink that is new, seasonal and topical.
From something that fits in with major events to something a bit riskier, your job is to help keep the connoisseurs off the bartenders back and give them something extra-special to savor!
What Does a Bartender Do?
A bartender has other roles to take care of, and often falls into the hospitality role as much as anything else. Most people imagine a bartender to be a handle-bar mustachioed man with a sailor tattoo wiping down the bar and taking orders by the pint. That is often not the case; most of the time, a bartender is like an entertainer as well as a public server.
They will be expected to be focused on the needs of the guest, listening to their requests and dealing with them as immediately as is possible. They are less expected to fetch something magic from a whole host of ingredients, and this can make it much easier for you to make a better progression if you are more into serving people and keeping morale high.
Most of the time, you will be stuck at the bar listening to someone a few paces away from sobriety tell you about whatever comes to their mind. Often, this means listening to them and, if needed, offering advice as best you can. Most of the time, you will be expected to get them the drink that they ask for rather than pull a rabbit out of a hat.
Therefore, the job is more in the patter and the general theme of togetherness. The people that you are dealing with will likely decide to talk to you all night, and most of the time should make it quite easy for you to get to know them and to feel comfortable in their presence.
While the job is less creative and usually involves dealing with lots of drunk people, many prefer being a bartender to a mixologist for the simplicity. Now, you are rated on your conversation and your kindness rather than your knowledge of what tastes good together!