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Clarifying the Bartender vs. Mixologist Controversy in a Sane Way

on 27/07/11 at 11:12 am

Booze News

I’m all for a well-made cocktail, except if it involves time, effort or money. Such is the dull attempt of Jason Kessler in his most recent Nitpicker column to draw a line between the craft of bartending and its supposed fetishism, mixology, as well as the hand-crafted cocktail and its absurd counterpart, the “potpourri-tini.” The problem is, The Nitpicker’s line is crooked at best.

Since he asked, I’ll tell him: the exact date when the word “mixologist” came into existence is 1856. At least that’s the first time the word appears in print, where it was originally used in a cartoon in the Knickerbocker magazine, but then gained acceptance as a word describing bartenders with extraordinary skill. Despite my own preference for using bartender, the words “bartender” and “mixologist” have since become virtually interchangeable.

Here’s a little more history: About fourteen years after the word mixology was coined, the Manhattan was created. The Martini followed and, early in the 20th century, the highball–any combination of spirits and soda–was invented too, likely by a mixologist. These bartenders, or mixologists if you will, also wore diamond stick pins, tossed drinks in silver cups, compounded their own syrups, used fruits, herbs and vegetables in their concoctions and, yes, took their time to make great cocktails. This period in time is sometimes referred to as the golden age of bartending. Today’s mixologists are only following suit, and a little shrubbery on the roof or floral syrups hardly seem counter intuitive to the craft.

{FULL STORY via Bon Appétit}

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