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What’s the Difference Between a Mixologist and Bartender?

A bartender mixes a drink at a bar.
Maksym Fesenko/Shutterstock.com

Whether you’ve been binge-watching Netflix’s Drink Masters (like we have) or just have a fine appreciation for cocktails, you’ve likely heard of both bartenders and mixologists. But are these two professions the same?

While some might use bartender and mixologist interchangeably due to some similarities, they are actually different jobs.

Bartending is a lot like what you think. These are skilled professionals who make classic and specialty cocktails and are often part of the customer service experience as they interact frequently with customers. They can also be responsible for processing payments, checking bar inventory, and in some cases, placing food orders. Basically, while mixing drinks is the primary part of the role, it’s so much more work than that.

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If bartenders do all that work, what do mixologists do? While mixologists can often be bartenders, not all bartenders are mixologists. That’s because a mixologist’s primary job is to create new, specialty cocktails using classic techniques, unique flavors, and new, trendy elements.

When working at a bar or restaurant, they are often the lead behind the bar, managing bartenders and creating the drinks they make as well as cocktail pairings and flights. Others, though, work as consultants for liquor, wine, and beer brands crafting specialty drinks made with companies’ products.

If you’ve ever heard someone refer to themselves as a mixologist and not a bartender, there is a good reason why. And if you want to test your own bartending or mixology skills, check out these 10 ways to step up your home bartending game.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Assignments Editor at LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
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