The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Want to be a mixologist? Here’s how…

Looking to take your interest in cocktails to the next level in the hospitality industry? In the first of our ‘want to be’ series, we share how you can study to become a mixologist.

What is a mixologist?

A mixologist is a skilled professional in the field of bartending who specialises in crafting and mixing cocktails. Unlike a traditional bartender who might focus on serving drinks and managing the bar, mixologists are known for their creativity, innovation, and expertise in creating unique and well-balanced cocktails by combining various spirits, liqueurs, mixers, and garnishes.

Mixologists often take a more artistic and culinary approach to cocktail creation, considering the flavours, aromas, textures, and visual presentation of their drinks. They may experiment with different ingredients, infusions, syrups, bitters, and techniques to craft signature cocktails that offer a memorable and enjoyable drinking experience.

What’s is the difference between a mixologist and a bartender?

The term mixologist is often used interchangeably with bartender, but it generally implies a higher level of expertise in cocktail creation and mixology techniques.

Whether working in upscale restaurants, cocktail bars, or other establishments, mixologists play a significant role in enhancing the drinking experience for patrons through their craftsmanship and creativity.

How can I become a mixologist?

Becoming a mixologist in New Zealand requires a combination of skills, knowledge, and experience. Here are some tips to get started…

Learn the basics
Start by learning the fundamentals of bartending, including how to pour drinks accurately, understand different types of glassware, and master essential techniques like shaking, stirring, and muddling.

Get trained
Enrol in a bartending school or take courses that specialise in mixology. Look for accredited programmes that teach not only basic bartending skills but also advanced techniques and cocktail creation.

Some options include:

Understand ingredients and experiment
Develop a deep knowledge of different types of spirits, liqueurs, mixers, and garnishes. Learn how their flavours interact and how to create balanced cocktails. Start by mastering classic cocktail recipes and then begin experimenting with new flavours, ingredients, and combinations to create your own signature drinks.

Palate development
Train your palate to distinguish different flavours, aromas, and textures in various ingredients. This will help you create well-balanced and appealing cocktails.

Stay current
Keep up with current cocktail trends and innovations by reading industry publications, attending events, and following influential mixologists on social media.

Get experience
Work in different bars and venues to gain a variety of experiences. Pay attention to skilled bartenders, ask for advice and engage with customers. Create a network of other bartenders and mixologists in the industry – networking can provide opportunities for collaboration, learning, and staying informed about job openings.

Licensing and certifications
In New Zealand, you’ll likely need to obtain a Duty Manager’s Certificate, which is a legal requirement for anyone serving alcohol. Look into the legal requirements for bartending in the region where you plan to work.

Showcase your skills
Create a portfolio of your cocktail creations and consider entering mixology competitions to showcase your talent and gain recognition.

Becoming a skilled mixologist is all about continuously refining your skills, learning new techniques, and staying passionate about the craft.

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