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What is Mixology?

October 20, 2021 by The Cocktail Service

What is mixology?

A mixologist twists citrus into a cocktail

Mixology is a skill that requires practice, research and focus.

Mixology as a discipline requires a lot of attention to detail and agility, and mixologists pride themselves in being an expert in cocktail creation.

Far more than just blending drinks, mixology can be a misunderstood endeavour; it takes time and training to master mixology, with mixologists working for years to hone their craft.

Find out more about mixologist hire from The Cocktail Service today 

You may find mixologists behind the bar during a shift, but a lot of the work of a mixologist goes on behind the scenes, long before the night itself.

Mixologists will work closely with a venue to bring visions to life, and will also craft house specials from scratch.

The world of cocktails is diverse and rich with history, and behind every cocktail creation, is a mixologist hard at work to understand the balance of flavours and ingredients to make a standout cocktail that event organisers and guests will fall in love with. 

The saying goes, all mixologists are bartenders, but not all bartenders are mixologists. Mixology requires a further understanding of how and why drinks are curated and crafted, and passion alongside that curiosity.

Mixologists will know the history of the cocktail and will use certain techniques to bring a cocktail to life.

Mixologists will often start with a base spirit, and experiment with different tastes, flavours, components and garnishes to enhance that spirit into something completely special and original. 

Steps to becoming a mixologist

A mixologist adds garnish to a cocktail

As an established bar staffing agency with years of experience in the craft, here are our top tips to becoming a mixologist:

Know the fundamentals 

To become a mixologist, you need to be prepared to expand your knowledge and know the fundamentals of cocktail craft; an intrinsic knowledge of spirits, syrups and flavours will help give you a base to work from and allow you to create original drinks with ingredients and flavours that will complement each other. 

Brush up on your history 

Mixologists take a great amount of pride in their work, and a key part of being a mixologist is to have an expansive knowledge of the history of cocktails.

Every cocktail we enjoy today started with a bunch of ingredients and some imagination; respect and understanding of this along with a pure passion for the craft will help you hone your skill and approach every cocktail in the right way. 

Be prepared to practice

Mixologists work for years to hone their craft and become master curators of original, exciting and delicious cocktails.

An innate knowledge of how to make a speciality cocktail from scratch, with a perfect blend and balance of flavours, will take time, especially as your knowledge of a vast range of cocktails grows over time. 

Speak to others in the trade 

Sometimes, learning on the job is the best way to become an expert. Immersing yourself in hands-on cocktail creation can help you master the craft; practice makes perfect, and many mixologists begin their career in mixology as bartenders or bar staff, before recognising their true passion. 

Hire a mixologist today with The Cocktail Service

History of mixology

An old fashioned cocktail in a rocks glass is shrouded in smoke

Some of the most popular cocktails people love and enjoy today will have all been created by mixologists experimenting with new flavours. Mixology can be dated back centuries, as the popularity of cocktails grew in the 1800s. 

The term ‘mixology’ actually comes from the mid 19th century, and only recently was revived along with the renaissance of cocktail craft.

Practitioners of mixology focus on how to create a better product, working behind the bar and with consumers themselves to establish better flavour profiles to meet new demand, as consumer demand for new and exciting flavours and cocktails grows. 

The rise of social media and the curation of experiences has certainly opened up a new era of cocktail curation; bars that specialise in good quality cocktails have become the go-to venues.

Bars now offer cocktail experiences, incorporating molecular gastronomy and tools such as blowtorches and atomizers to manipulate ingredients as the cocktails are being made right in front of customers; the cocktails are the focus of the night out. 

The rise of molecular mixology

The rise of molecular mixology and craft cocktails have seen cocktails go from simple meal accompaniments on a night out to one-off, unforgettable experiences.

Molecular gastronomy allows mixologists to enhance the cocktail experience with physics and chemistry, while the never ending flavour combinations have seen cocktails gain a following like never before.

Professional mixologists and masters of the craft finding new ways to push the boundaries of cocktail curation, and mixologists are now sought after by establishments to help them take their cocktail offering to the next level.

Powders, smoke, foams and atomised sprays can all be used to intensify the flavour and experience of drinking a cocktail, and a mixologist is the person behind that curation.

The perfect blend of flavours and ingredients is not by chance; research, innovation and a passion for the craft is needed to find the perfect blends that can create a cocktail that is good enough to serve.

This ‘cocktail revival’ has opened up opportunities for mixologists and drink companies to explore new avenues; the rise in popularity of flavoured gin is an example of how cocktail curation and the ‘need’ for something new has helped to bolster the drinks market.

Do I need a mixologist for my event?

A mixologist at an event pours fruit juice into a cocktail shaker

Mixologists are often hired by event menus to help curate a one-off cocktail menu that addresses either a particular flavour or theme.

These one-off experiences help create a more personal experience for customers- the use of unique ingredients to create unusual drinks that are exclusive to that venue.

From syrup preparation to finding unusual garnishes to intensifying the flavour through molecular gastronomy; a mixologist is behind it all. 

Find out more about mixologist hire today

How do you become a mixologist?

There are many ways to become a mixologist.

Some aspiring bartenders will take a course, like The Cocktail Service’s training academy, or at the European Bartender School.

Others may decide to take an entry level hospitality job at a cocktail bar, and then learn as they go.

Whichever route is best for you, you’ll need to dedicate time to your craft. Even the best bartenders in the business are always keen to learn new skills.


What is Mixology: In Conclusion

We’re The Cocktail Service: a bar staffing agency with years of mixology experience and specially trained mixologists.

Get in touch with our team today to learn more about our bespoke bar staffing for events, or organise mixologist hire today. 


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