Mixology is defined as the science of creating cocktails. A Mixologist is the person creating the cocktails.
Merriam-Webster's dictionary dates mixology to the last century and in particular 1948 and defines it as: "the art or skill of preparing mixed drinks"
But there is more to it than simply mixing drinks.
Is a Bartender a Mixologist?
In theory the terms are interchangeable, however in practice a Mixologist tends to be more knowledgeable than a bartender. Bartenders pull pints, Mixologists don't is a common phrase in the industry. Mixologists tend to have a greater 'feeling' or affinity for creating, not just making cocktails.
Although Mixologists have many of the same duties as a regular bartender, mixologists tend to seek drink knowledge, the composition of alcoholic drinks and what works and what doesn't. They love to experiment - not just make a drink from a cocktail recipe book - after all, anybody can do that.
What's the difference between a COCKTAIL Mixologist and a FLAIR Mixologist?
Mixing drinks has been around for decades if not centuries, however true Mixology began at the end of the second world war and specifically in America.
With the end of prohibition America got the bug for alcoholic drinks they had been denied for a long time.
The general populous began to go-out more to bars, restaurants and the latest craze - cocktail bars.
As cocktail bars proliferated, many bars developed their own signature drinks to attract customers.
America suddenly had freedom and money. Tipping became widespread, bartenders developed flair or extreme tricks with the bartending equipment they had - bottles, glasses in the hopes of getting more customers watching them and ultimately being enthralled, captivated and thus buying more drinks (as well as more tips!)
The combination of drink creation and flair bartending eventually led to the term mixologist. Bartendering had been elevated to a new level.
A Cocktail Mixologist
These guys (and girls) are what Mixology is all about. They have a natural feeling for what should go into a Cocktail to make it superb and beyond sublime. They play with textures, colours, balances of flavours, astringency versus sweetness and so on and so forth. They are not showmen, they simply are THE experts at making Cocktails.
A Flair Mixologist
The showman, the show-off, the ambidextrous acrobat, the 'look-at-me', the Entertainer. They will acrobat, toss, turn, balance and do all manner of tricks and stunts - just to entertain and keep their guests amused.
Flair Mixologists are the true artists at their trade. They want to captivate an audience, they want the praise; the adulation and the kudos for their skills. It takes many years of dedication, skill and practice to hone their skills.