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Boston Bartenders Share Their Opinion on the Word 'Mixologist'

As Cocktail Week nears its end, local bartenders discuss a word that evokes a wide range of feelings from the industry: "mixologist."

Patrick Gaggiano"Never heard of it. Been lucky enough to be served by a lot of damn fine bartenders though." —Patrick Gaggiano, bar manager at Viale


Greg Neises"Well, I think the best title one can have is Fun, Creative, Energetic, and Consistent. You really are as good as the last drink you crafted." —Greg Neises, bartender at Tico


Patrick Sullivan"Too many syllables." —Patrick Sullivan, executive director of bar operations for the Legal Sea Foods brands


Paulo Pereira"I’m not a big fan of the word. Bartending is so much more than just mixology. Yes, creating cocktails is a huge part of it, but a bartender provides hospitality, conversation, advice on menu items, and overall a friendly atmosphere that makes guests want to come back again and again." —Paulo Pereira, beverage director at Brass Union

Rob Haberek"I don't like the word ‘mixologist.’ It implies all I do is mix drinks. I'm a bartender tending to my guests." —Rob Haberek, bartender at Forum


Katie Mae Dell Isola"I’m not a huge fan. There’s a lot more that goes into working behind a bar than just mixing cocktails, and I’ve found that most ‘mixologists’ only like to make drinks." —Katie Mae Dell Isola, bar manager at Haru


Dan Greenough"A mixologist is someone who approaches bartending as a craft as opposed to a job. Similar to how a chef approaches food. An opportunity to be creative when making cocktails and put your own individual spin on ‘the classics.’" —Dan Greenough, food & beverage manager of all Burtons Grill locations

Kevin Murphy"Awesome title...in 1998." —Kevin Murphy, operations manager of Deuxave


Ryan Lotz"It's not my favorite! It's definitely a part of the job, but really it's such a small part." —Ryan Lotz, bar manager at No. 9 Park


Vikram Hegde"It’s fine. I like to think of myself as a bartender, but if guests want to give a higher-level honorific to the people who are great at this job, then that’s awesome! It’s about time the ladies and gentlemen behind the stick start getting some recognition." —Vikram Hegde, bartender at Sarma

Michael CottensPeople in this city are very thirsty and care less for the flair and more for getting a good drink in a timely manner"I heard a joke once, which is, ‘What is the difference between a bartender and a mixologist? Ten minutes.’ Although it's important to have knowledge of the product and to be able to put out a great fresh cocktail for each individual's taste, people in this city are very thirsty and care less for the flair and more for getting a good drink in a timely manner." —Michael Cottens, bartender at The Merchant

Kaitlena Cash"Eh mixologist. I would never say I was a mixologist. Just the same as I wouldn't say I was a dermatologist. Okay, I guess that's pushing it, but still. I think it's kind of pretentious to call yourself a mixologist." —Kaitlena Cash, bartender at Anthem Kitchen + Bar

Sal Gesamondo"I’ve never really thought much about it. What I do know is there are some people out there doing some really interesting things. They have dedicated their lives to the art, the craft, and the science of really producing some amazing things that most of us never dreamed possible. Recently I was in a lounge in Denver, CO; the atmosphere was very unique and the bar itself was stunning. Behind the bar looked like Dr. Frankenstein’s lab, with scattered bottles, fresh plants, beakers, Bunsen burners, blow torches, scales, and magnets. From using fresh rose petals to make their rose water or earl grey tea being burnt to smoke a glass, these guys knew what they were doing and it was very impressive." —Sal Gesamondo, operations manager of Tavern in the Square

Giulio Favuzza"To me, a mixologist is a person who takes pride in their job and learns how to make cocktails properly, while using different ingredients to create a drink that a guest would enjoy." —Giulio Favuzza, beverage manager of Red Heat Tavern


Ryan McGraleI can teach you mixology. I can’t teach you to be a bartender (like people, be nice, etc.)"Can’t stand it. Mixology is the act of making the drink. Bartender is the total package. I can teach you mixology. I can’t teach you to be a bartender (like people, be nice, etc.)" —Ryan McGrale, beverage director at Tavern Road

Molly Woodhouse"I just don't know why ‘bartender’ isn't a good enough title for someone who tends to the needs of guests seated at a bar!" —Molly Woodhouse, general manager and beverage director of Vida Cantina in Portsmouth (and an alum of The Butcher Shop and Menton)

Ian Nal"Who appoints you a ‘mixologist’??? Pretty much anyone who mixes a drink is a mixologist. Everyone who eats food is a foodie as well. It’s a term that is way overused. I’m also a sommelier, but I am certified. Most mixologists have a self-appointed title that really doesn’t carry much weight. There needs to be an accreditation process." —Ian Nal, general manager and beverage director of Fish Restaurant & Wine Bar in Marlborough

Jenna Pollock"I don’t necessarily mind the word ‘mixologist.’ ‘Bartender’ means many things when you think of all the types of drinking establishments there are; some mostly pour wine; others pop bottles of mainstream beer and pour drafts all shift long. I think of the term ‘the wine connoisseur’ when I first heard that long word; I poked fun at its meaning too — like wine lover isn’t good enough that they have to be a connoisseur? ‘Mixologist’ to me is a bartender focused on making original cocktails. They are a passionate bunch that are obsessed with the craft of combining flavors in new and exciting ways. I feel there should be a different name for those types of folk. They are the ones who will constantly bounce ideas off each other. They are the ones that recommend you try this other spiced rum, which you’ve never heard of, over your usual Captain and coke. Their minds are open to different flavors, and they will invite you into their world when you come to visit them. They will also be the ones to introduce you to your new favorite drink and your new favorite spirits, so I think the word needs to be embraced a bit more." —Jenna Pollock, bar director at Nebo

Brian Mantz"I don't really have any feelings about it other than I would feel silly calling myself that. I prefer ‘bartenerd.’" —Brian Mantz, bar manager at Wink & Nod


Colin Kiley"Oh dear. Mixologist. I mean...yeesh. The history of it is pejorative, and I don't really know of anyone who regularly uses the word (especially to describe themselves) that is a shining example of how to behave in this racket. I mean, I guess you need the word 'mixology' to convey an approach to a craft that has rules and guidelines and traditions...but I don't think anyone needs to be going around calling themselves a mixologist. Just sayin..." —Colin Kiley, bartender at Puritan & Company

Libby Spencer"Lame. I'm a bartender and I'm proud of it. Do I mix things and they taste good? Sure, but it's so much more than that for me." —Libby Spencer, bar manager at Deep Ellum


Tom Tellier"I don't call myself a mixologist. I am a bartender; I tend to the guests. I will ‘mix’ you a drink, but I didn't create the beers or wines we pour. Don't get me wrong, there are some amazing ‘mixologists’ out there, but I'm not one of them." —Tom Tellier, beverage director for Restaurant dante and both locations of il Casale

Tyler WoltersMy job would also have to include other quasi-scientific titles like ‘Heaveologist,’ which means someone who can shut off and toss out the intoxicated."Well, I looked it up in Webster's Dictionary and it's there; so it's a real, newly minted word. It means simply, ‘A person good at mixing cocktails.’ My job would also have to include other quasi-scientific titles like ‘Heaveologist,’ which means someone who can shut off and toss out the intoxicated, and a ‘Coedologist,’ which is a person who can coax a crying sorority girl out of the bathroom." —Tyler Wolters, bartender at Firebrand Saints and Brick & Mortar

Todd Lipman"There are people in this world that are truly gifted at understanding cocktail culture, history, innovation, using complicated machinery, and doing some really cool stuff with drinks. However, I am a firm believer in two things: You don’t give yourself a nickname and you don’t call yourself a mixologist. In my mind the folks that possess these attributes are highly skilled bartenders at the forefront of progressing their field. That being said, some people are truly amazing at what they do behind a bar and deserve to be recognized for what they bring to their clientele. They should be commended in some way for that, titular or otherwise." —Todd Lipman, head sommelier at Bistro du Midi

Davide Crusoe"I’m ok with it as long as what’s coming out from behind that bar is fresh and yummy and drinks don’t take eons to make." —Davide Crusoe, general manager at Chopps in Burlington


Christine Kerow"Totally overrated and overused. What does it even mean?" —Christine Gerow, director of restaurant & bar at the Westin Waltham-Boston's Seventy at Third Avenue


Sam Treadway"In the famous words of Scott Marshall: ‘Mixology happens in the glass; everything else is bartending! This is a bar and I'm tending it, so I guess that makes me a bartender!’" —Sam Treadway, bar manager at Backbar


Gina Richard"I don't particularly mind the term, but I would never call myself that. Bartending is the act of serving people from behind a bar and making guests feel welcome and showing them a good time. If you are creative and can make outstanding cocktails for these guests, then that's great, but first and foremost you need to be hospitable. I think anyone that is interested can be taught how to mix drinks properly, and if they have a good palate can get creative with it. But being social and personable in the way a good bartender needs to be isn't for everyone and isn't something that can be taught." —Gina Richard, head bartender at Island Creek Oyster Bar

Sean WoodsTwo thumbs down…though it’s better than 'cock-tologist' or 'bar chef' or 'bar-tist.'"Two thumbs down…though it’s better than 'cock-tologist' or 'bar chef' or 'bar-tist.' I feel like mixologist is an incomplete sentence. It doesn't refer to finishing or completing anything, just mixing. To me it implies that you just mix shit together, and then you need to bring in a whole other crew with different titles to pour shit out. I am a bartender. I tend to the needs of the guest, I tend to the needs of the cocktail recipes, and I tend to the needs of the bar." —Sean Woods, bar manager at Ribelle

Katie Emmerson"Ok...the word seemed to really gain popularity when Dale DeGroff was running the bar at the Rainbow Room because he wanted to showcase the fact that they were doing something different. They flamed orange twists and made Blue Blazers and really put on a show. These days, so much pretension has been associated with the word and people looking down on ‘regular’ bartenders that most of us have tried to stay away from it. I work behind a bar. I'm a bartender." —Katie Emmerson, bar manager at The Hawthorne

Ezra Star"The word ‘mixologist’ is one that I am pretty irked by. It is an old term used jokingly that has found new providence to people looking to find definition for someone who cares about their job. I am first and foremost and bartender. My job is to offer good conversation, good drinks, and keep my guests happy. It is not about me; it is about the person on the other side. The term ‘mixologist’ is often offered up with ego and pride. I am behind the bar to be hospitable and welcoming. It is a simple thing with difficult intricacies." —Ezra Star, general manager at Drink

Jared Sadoian"S​ome folks have this really visceral negative reaction to the term. I guess I'm indifferent. I don't hate you for using it, but I'd really prefer you call me a bartender. That's what I do. Maybe if I was leading a research team at MIT developing more efficient methods of stirring…" —Jared Sadoian, head bartender and beverage director of Craigie on Main and The Kirkland Tap & Trotter

Tenzin Samdo"It's a funny word. I don’t use it in conversation really, but I did recently discover that it is an awesome hashtag. I’ve found some incredible bartenders by searching it on Instagram and Twitter, and I use it myself to call out other great bartenders with utmost respect." —Tenzin Konchok Samdo, head barman at TRADE

Jonathan Mendez"I don’t mind it, but I think it's all marketing. At TRADE, we’ve dubbed ourselves the #CocktailMafia as a way to have a little more fun with the marketing part. At the end of the day, we’re bartenders with a particular skill-set and focus. We like to create delicious things and deliver them with warmth and care. It doesn’t matter what you call yourself as long as you execute." —Jonathan Mendez, beverage director and bartender at TRADE

Michael Florence"I don't know exactly why, but I find it shudder-inducing. As a word." — Michael Florence, bar manager at Ole


Like ‘foodie,’ I think it implies a level of pretentiousness that I find uncomfortable.

"I don't identify with the term at all. Like ‘foodie,’ I think it implies a level of pretentiousness that I find uncomfortable. While I take what I do seriously, it's also supposed to be fun to be at a bar having a drink and a bite to eat. The term also tends to put the emphasis on the drinks, rather than the entire experience. Making cocktails is just one aspect of great bartending — so much more is required to truly provide each person with a great time. I heard John Gertsen say this once, and it's something that has stuck with me ever since: ‘We serve people, not drinks.’" —Alex Howell, bar manager of Bondir

"The same as my opinion on ‘foodie’..." —Tom Dargon, assistant general manager of BOKX 109

"There are two kinds of people in the world, those who do something because they love it, and those who do something because they're seeking recognition. ‘Mixologist’ strikes me as a term that appeals to folks in the latter category. We can all come up with fancy names for what we do, but there's something vaguely elitist about ‘mixologist.’ A good bar experience is about the drinks, yes, but it's also about the interaction with the bartender, the level of comfort you feel sitting at the bar, how welcoming the atmosphere is. As one of the owners of Estragon, I don't have a problem with the title or anyone who chooses to adopt it, but I doubt any of our lovely, talented, and dedicated staff would ever use it." —Lara Egger, co-owner of Estragon Tapas Bar, and Sahil Mehta, bartender and server

"Not a fan." —Ashish Mitra, bar manager at Russell House Tavern

"Not a fan. A mixologist is a bartender...why do we need a different word?" —Erica Petersiel, general manager at No. 8 Kitchen & Spirits

"When Daniel Day-Lewis starts referring to himself as a Master Actologist I'll change my title." —Tyler Wang, bartender at Audubon

"I hate the word ‘mixologist.’ I smile when a guest uses it to describe what I am doing, and I appreciate where they are coming from because that is the word associated with bartenders these days who are actually making good, creative, and classic cocktails. I however embrace myself as a bartender. I take care of my guests, talk to people, and serve as the host of a world of spirits. Anyone can train to mix drinks, but it takes knowledge, passion, personality, intuition and care on top of mixology to be a great bartender." —Rob Dunn, bar manager at Lineage

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