Do you have a natural flair for concocting cocktails? Keen to make cocktails in some of the trendiest bars and clubs in London? Then we might have something for you — we’re talking, of course, of becoming a cocktail mixologist.
A mixologist is the “chef” of the cocktail world, someone that has studied the craft of making drinks and specializes in crafting unique, interesting tinctures.
If mixing drinks and making new mixtures from scratch is your idea of fun, then a career in mixology could be perfect for you. In this article, we’ll cover the ins and outs of mixology, as well as how to become a mixologist. Read on and find out if you’ve found your calling!
What is a mixologist?
A mixologist is to the bar what a chef is to the restaurant kitchen. They will prepare any house-made syrups, tinctures, bitters or other ingredients that a bartender will need.
The mixologist is the designer of the cocktails, while the bartender makes and presents them to customers. It can sometimes be the case that a mixologist has already finished their work before the guests arrive, having created a unique cocktail for a specific event, for example, a wedding dinner.
A mixologist is NOT a bartender
Before we go any further, let’s make it clear that mixology is NOT the same as bartending, although the skills needed for each do overlap. While both a bartender and a mixologist will fix your drinks, a mixologist’s drinks are a medium to tell a story and create an experience for the customer. In a way, all mixologists are bartenders, but not all bartenders are mixologists. Although, they do work together and will influence one another.
The difference is the time slot; the mixologist does the research and mostly works exclusively for a certain bar or restaurant, while the bartender could work for any bar at any time. The bartender will make the same kind of cocktails but in different venues or bars. They will have the same basic knowledge of putting together a drink, as they’ve probably learned that at a bartender school, or from a mixologist.
If we stick with our kitchen analogy, a mixologist is like the executive or head chef, while bartenders are the station chefs, juniors, or kitchen porters — depending on their seniority and experience.
Average mixologist salary
According to Indeed, the average salary for UK mixologists is £26,628 per year. However, pay can vary widely based on the type of establishment, location, and experience.
Usually, earnings for mixologists come from both hourly wages, as well as tips from customers or clients.
How to become a mixologist
Almost anyone can become a mixologist, all it takes is a healthy interest in mixing drinks, and lots of practice. If you’ve decided to pursue a career in the field, then here are some steps for you to follow.
1. Learn the basic rules of mixing
You have to learn to walk before you try to run — the same goes for mixology. Before you start creating new and innovative cocktails, you’ll have to learn why traditional drinks are made in the way that they are.
Although you can learn about classic drinks in many ways, most up-and-coming mixologists do so by working at bars and learning the trade first-hand. Working your way up to bartender at a local bar is a great way to not just get theoretical knowledge of what flavours and tinctures work together, but also hands-on experience mixing drinks professionally.
2. Get your certification
Although at some establishments, mixologist is just an honorary title for whoever comes up with their drinks, most mixologists nowadays have some form of certification.
Yes, a mixologist certification is not strictly necessary, but it’s a great way to expand your skills, network with people with similar interests, and prove to potential employers that you know the trade.
3. Invest in tools
When it comes to crafting new, exciting drinks, having the right tools makes all the difference — a standard cocktail mixer will only take you so far. For starters, you’ll need a food-grade stainless steel mixology kit, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
There will probably come a time in your career when you’ll want to experiment with different substances like foams, jellies and bubbles, or use complicated techniques like spherification, smoking, and vacuum packing. These make for exotic looking and tasting cocktails, but require expensive, almost scientific equipment.
Our advice is to start small, with a standard mixology kit, and work your way up as you develop your skills and your drinks grow in complexity.
4. Stay curious
Becoming a mixologist isn’t a one and done type of thing. Succesful mixologists are infinitely curious and inquisitive in their pursuit to make new and exciting mixtures.
Continue to experiment with new textures, ingredients, and flavours. Stay up to date with the latest and greatest in your craft with newsletters, magazines or social media, and constantly ask for feedback from friends, family and customers.
Find your next gig!
So, have you decided to become a mixologist? Maybe you need to develop your bartending skills first? Whether you’ve been a bartender for a bit or if you’re a newbie in the cocktail field: Coople is here for you! Learn from the best mixologists in town and really raise up your bartending skills. Just download the Coople app and get in touch with us to find recent job openings!