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South Florida Bartenders Share Their Thoughts on the Word 'Mixologist'

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It's a mixed bag

For Cocktail Week 2015, we surveyed area bartenders and liquor pros on aspects of the bar world and will reveal these responses to you all week long.

First up: what do you think of the word 'mixologist'?

Will Rivas (Bazi and Macchialina) — If people call me a mixologist I won’t correct them. It’s a term that has become common and guest sometimes say "but you are more than a bartender you’re a mixologist". I feel that the mixing of drink is only part of the equation of being a complete bartender. The most important aspect is the hospitality given to the guest. Anyone can make a drink but a bartender will make you feel at home at their bar.

Ervin Machado (Louie Bossi’s Ristorante, Bar and Pizzeria) — It’s just a fancy word for

Nowadays most bartenders called themselves mixologist but the lack in some of common sense and taste take them out of that list.

bartender…and it often meals a slow one ;)

Alexander Aportela (Finka Table & Tap) At the end of the day I like to consider myself a proper bartender. The word mixologist doesn't really exist in my vocabulary.

Carlos Cruz (Seaspice) — Mixologist definition is the mixture of products, spirits, herbs and tonics or infusions with each other in a way that you can create a balance of sweetness, acidity and alcohol. Nowadays most bartenders called themselves mixologist but the lack in some of common sense and taste take them out of that list.

Mike Calcara (Better Days) — The term mixologist, in my opinion, is a double edged sword. It's become so mainstream that anyone who steps behind a bar tends to refer to themselves as a #mixologist. I respect anyone who has a real passion for the craft. Mixology is an art, sometimes that can't be taught. Put in time, learn the basics, find something that really interest you and then add your twist to the game.

Daniel Najarro (Bagatelle Miami Beach) — What's a mixologist?!

The best drinks come from a good "bartender" and titles don't necessarily make you one.

Jose Gill (American Social Brickell) — Overused, same as  "realtor" - two favorite Miami words.

Jamal Giles (SUGARCANE raw bar grill) — I think the word mixologist has its place for sure, but it should be reserved for the bartenders doing molecular stuff.

Steve Minor (MO Bar + Lounge) — A mixologist is someone who not only knows how to skillfully and correctly make a plethora of cocktails, but someone who truly understands culinary techniques and applications, savory and sweet flavor pairings and is a true hospitality professional. You have to have many years of bartending experience, in my opinion, as this doesn’t happen overnight. A true mixologist isn’t in this to pay the bills while going to school for example, but lives a lifestyle that includes charity, constant reeducation and comradery with your fellow colleagues.

Joel Mesa (Bulla Gastrobar) — Initially a mixologist sounds like a guy in a lab concocting a variety of ingredients together – there’s a science to it. Here at Bulla, and as a mixologist, we do just that – we create cocktails with unique ingredients, bitters and garnishes, and care about what's in the glass (our creation) just as much as what's outside the glass (the ambience, reaction, etc).

George Strom (SUSHISAMBA Miami Beach) — I think it's an important designation.

It offers the freedom to create a masterpiece.

Mixologists are masters of their craft. Bartenders can follow recipes and execute, but mixologists are the ones who create those recipes.

Isaac Grillo (Repour Homemade Cocktails) — It's a term that helped bring strong recognition to our community, and is used commonly today. I've personally been in and out of the title, but I'm more of the mindset that you don't need a title to make amazing cocktails. The best drinks come from a good "bartender" and titles don't necessarily make you one.

Jessica Kirk (Wood Tavern) — I work with volume.A Tito's- soda or a stella kinda rockstar bartender. So if you label me a mixologist, you clearly can't read my facial expressions when you ask for something "good but different, kinda sweet, but a pinch of sour." However, if you claim the mixologist game and you actually enjoy getting creative with juices and biters, by all means I think it's an amazing concept. To answer the question, the word is a great when used appropriately. Go to a bar that is known for mixology to get what you're looking for, but don't assume all bartenders are "mixologists."

Ben Potts (Beaker & Gray) — If you have to label a bartender who makes cocktails a mixologist, so be it.

Alex Alfonso (Premier Beverage) — I’m impartial. If it means I’m gonna get someone who cares about hospitality, I’m all for it. If it means you’re a pretentious bartender, that’s fine too, just give me a beer and a shot.

We just don't use it day-to-day. I'd much prefer to call myself a bartender.

Josh Gonzalez (Sweet Liberty) — Depends how you use it, originally it was good something more then an average bartender. But then the word took a negative connotation due to douchebags misusing the word so now it’s kinda ruined. The uneducated guest will use it thinking its a compliment or good and that’s ok because they don’t know better.

Gabe Urrutia (Beam Suntory) — An endearing term for a highly skilled bartender.  Has existed for many many years.

Danny Zeenberg (Ritz Carlton South Beach) — Overused and abused. Every cook is not a gourmet chef. The term also does not relay any sense of guest experience or personality, it just guarantees your going to get an unnecessarily complicated cocktail.

Jeremiah Goll (Sunset Lounge Bar) — It offers the freedom to create a masterpiece.

Martin Garcia (The Pool & Beach at Thompson Miami Beach) — Mixologist to me is a fancy word for bartender. Mixology is a term now used to describe the art of craft cocktail making, but it still has this fancy connotation. We just don't use it day-to-day. I'd much prefer to call myself a bartender.

Peter Lopez (Kuro at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino) — The best way to describe what a mixologist does is by comparing it to the role of a chef. Any cook can prepare mac and cheese as any bartender can make a vodka cranberry, however, the way a chef brings culture, depth, complexities and a balance of flavors to the food he or she creates and envisions is what a mixologist does for beverages. Ultimately, a mixologist’s goal is to use the freshest ingredients, classic inspirations and contemporary twists all together to create a well-balanced beverage.

Rob Ferrara (Lure Fishbar and The Rum Line) — I am a bartender.  Bartenders do more than just "bartend" – we deliver a quality hospitality experience all around to our guests. But I think that when a guest calls you a Mixologist it's a compliment. It means that you're a better bartender than they see on a regular basis at their local watering hole!

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