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What Is Mixology? Everything You Need To Know

The art of mixology has been practiced amongst many generations, and it truly is just that: an art form. Mixology is defined as the skill of mixing cocktails and other drinks. Mixology requires lots of memorization skills, quick thinking, and creativity. 

Surprisingly, there are subtle differences between bartenders and mixologists. Despite mixology becoming a more common term amongst the modern bartending community, it’s a little more in-depth than most people realize. 

Here at Ohza, we like to think that we are sort of mixologists ourselves. We take pride in our craft mimosas and respect the art of mixology. Mixology is an immersive learning experience. It dives into the history of making drinks and breaks it down by flavor profiles and pairing. 

Thirsty for more? Here’s everything you need to know about the art of mixology, courtesy of the team here at Ohza

History of Mixology 

The history of the cocktail has an in-depth background that can be traced back centuries. During the mid-1800s, saloon owner Jerry Thomas authored the first cocktail book ever written. Thomas’ early research and keen creative sense for cocktail making set the standard for bartending for years to come. His book, “The Bartenders Guide,” jumpstarted mixology into an art form. 

In the early 20th century, cocktails were all the rave… until Prohibition hit and really put a damper on America’s cocktail party spirit. The new ban on alcohol didn’t stop the cocktail lovers, even though consuming alcohol was illegal. People began bootlegging liquor in the true spirit of the Roaring Twenties and spent time in speakeasies that often required secret passcodes to get in. 

Most basic popular cocktail recipes can be traced back to this era of speakeasies and bootlegging. After the end of Prohibition, enjoying cocktails became a societal norm again. 

Though the art of mixology looks very different today, it is still a crucial part of society. Cocktails are a great way to mix and mingle, and they can bring people together in a unique way. Today’s cocktails focus on aesthetically pleasing details and the creativity of each mixologist creating it. It’s an immersive experience today that will define the drinks of the future. 

Differences Between Bartenders and Mixologists 

Mixologists and bartenders are like champagne and sparkling wine. All mixologists are bartenders, but not all bartenders are mixologists. Mixologists have all the skills of a bartender but take it a step further. They are masters of their craft. 

Mixologists dive deep into how to make a drink and learn special techniques to make them taste even better. They learn how to enhance the flavors of each drink they craft. Mixologists know cocktails forwards and backwards and dedicate their time and energy to learning the ins and outs of the world of spirits. 

Bartenders have a massive set of skills and recipes that they often learn on the fly. Bartenders have the same keen eye for flavor pairings but may not have the same knowledge and history as mixologists do—and they may not attempt their own creations as often. Bartenders know which drinks taste good and sell well, but they can’t always explain why that is. 

How To Become a Mixologist 

If the art of mixology is intriguing to you, but you are unsure of where to start, our mixologists here at Ohza have your back. The best way to become a mixologist is by getting one-on-one training through a bartending school or academy. 

In the golden age of the internet, you can access mixology courses online, but in-person is the best way to learn this specific skill set. Mixology is so detail-oriented that being in person will help you actually see and feel what you need to do. 

Every mixologist must learn the basics of bartending and execute them well. That means any bartender can become a mixologist with the right drive and passion. 

What Exactly Do Mixologists Do? 

Mixologists don’t just know cocktails; they love them. They take pride in knowing the ins and outs of each drink—and the ways they can make that drink better. Often, mixologists will take on consulting jobs and work with distilled spirit companies. They are heavily involved in developing new cocktail recipes. It is a tight-knit community that takes pride and joy in what they do. 

Mixologists take the time to learn every area and detail of craft cocktails. Mixologists truly have deep knowledge and understanding of their craft to develop new cocktails and ideas. 

What Skills Do Mixologists Need To Have? 

Besides being able to work effortlessly behind a bar, mixologists need a specific skill set in order to be considered true mixologists. Here’s a brief rundown of each skill set required of them. 

1: Chef-Minded 

The individual working towards the title of mixologist must have a culinary approach to their cocktails and bar. 

2: Intentionality 

This attribute is specifically talked about when crafting a menu. The mixologist must be able to create an intentional menu to cater to specific clientele and seasonal flavors. 

3: Preparation 

Whether they are behind a bar or serving cocktails at home, a true mixologist always preps all their drink ingredients and tools beforehand. 

4: Time 

Most people who strive to be mixologists dedicate all their time and energy to it. They often spend hours upon hours crafting new drink recipes. 

5: Focus 

A good mixologist is laser-focused on the task at hand and doesn’t get distracted or discouraged by trial and error. 

6: Knowledge 

This is the biggest question you need to ask as a mixologist: do you know your stuff? Mixologists must have a wide array of true understanding and knowledge of cocktails and how they are made and enjoyed. 

7: Responsible

In a bar setting, an educated mixologist is often in charge. They are the ones responsible for sourcing ingredients and preparing the menus. They must be trustworthy and responsible with such tasks.

8: Technique 

A good mixologist knows the best, most efficient ways to do things, even something as simple as slicing an orange for a garnish. They have a solid education and execution of technique and professionalism. 

9: Organized 

Everything must have its place, and the mixologist knows where it is. Everything is intentionally organized for optimal bar space and serving. 

10: Definition Destroyers 

Mixology is always changing. Cocktails are being reinvented and recycled into new and improved mixed drinks. Well deserved mixologists push to redefine the definitions of their favorite drinks by striving to always be better at what they do. 

Think you have what it takes? Mixology is one of those wonderful art forms that anyone can participate in. All it takes is dedication, drive, and a love for cocktails. Whether you enjoy alcohol socially or make it part of your daily routine and career, there is room for everyone in the art of mixology. 

As long as you understand and appreciate bartending and making drinks, there is a seat for you at the mixology table. Don’t be afraid to dive into this new world of mixed drinks and celebrate the art of mixology. Happy mixing!   


The Contemporary Cocktail Bar: What Is Mixology? | The Spruce Eats  

Bootlegging | Ohio History Central 

The Jazz Age | American Experience | Official Site | PBS

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