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June 30: Bartender and Mixologist Day


It’s Bartender and Mixologist Day. Now, I think honoring the men and women who make our drinks is an excellent idea, but I’ve always had ambivalent feelings about the term “mixologist.” Bartenders who work in dives hiss at the term, while those who apply it to themselves seem to be, well, a bit fancy. And while the whole mixology thing may seem like just another fresh-faced fad being foisted on the drinking public, the foisting has actually been going on for at least 160 years. An 1856 edition of Knickerbocker magazine featured a columnist asking: “Who ever heard of a man calling the barkeeper a mixologist of tipicular fixing?” The answer to which is: “A lot of people, every 30 years or so.” A mixology craze will rise up, hang around a while, then get stamped down by a bunch of people with disgusted looks on their faces, only to rise up again a generation or so later like a phoenix that really should find something better to do with its life. And like an unemployed neighbor you foolishly granted kegerator privileges, the fad hangs around a little longer each time, finally compelling the federal government into giving the title official status: the 1960 U.S. Census Report lists mixologist as one of the four sub-categories of bartender, the other three being the ultra-gauche barkeeper, the stylistically-barren drink-mixer, and the rather specialized tavern-car attendant. Mixologist is the only dapper monkey in the bunch, and not especially showy when you consider in that same census barbers were puffing themselves up as tonsorial artists and trichologists. All that said? I won’t call a bartender a mixologist unless he really makes a big stink about it, and then I will speak the title in a sarcastic tone. That’s my compromise.

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Editor/Publisher of Modern Drunkard Magazine.