We can all pretty much agree that the cocktail has made a roaring comeback since its first heyday about a hundred years ago. There are even some bars that have started offering upcharges for "artisanal ice." Whether that represents a step forward or back into the hipster quicksand is not up for me to decide. The point is, from behind the bar to those crowded in front of it, cocktails are now a serious business.
So with all these handcrafted ice cubes, a million different bourbons to choose from and more house-made infusions being made every day, it begs the question: should we still call them bartenders, or should we pick up the new term, "mixologist?" I posed the question on my Facebook after learning that the term had some less-than positive connotations, and luckily, I had lots of folks weighing in on the subject.
What it comes down to is the essential definition of "bartender" or "mixologist." The profession of bartending has been around for hundreds of years, and is a broad term that assumes a certain level of hospitality, experience, and well-rounded knowledge. "Mixology" tends to have a lot of fedora/neckbeard/silk shirt associations, but I'll let them explain why:
Zach Wilks: At the end of the day we serve people not drinks, and my preference is and always will be bartender or barman. Mixologist has a connotation of arrogance and pretentiousness.
Ryan Puckett: I don't think about it too much. If people want to call me that, it's fine. I don't argue it. I consider myself a bartender, but I see why the word exists. The public uses that to understand what we do. It serves a purpose to them. But I don't spend much time thinking about the way people define me.
Michele McAtee: That term makes me cringe, but I try to keep a pleasant look on my face. I prefer to consider myself to be a well-read tender.