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Recently the terms mixology and mixologist have become a regular part of jargon in cocktail bars around Malta. What’s more, such vernacular is often used to describe a style of mixing cocktails and the people who practise it. But many might ask, what exactly is mixology? And that’s a well-founded question, which is why The Thirsty Barber wanted to fill you in about the ins and outs of what it entails to be a skilled mixologist…

The Art of Mixology

Mixology is a refined and in-depth study of the art and craft of mixing drinks. Think of it as the study of the chemistry of drinks and the mixologist is the professional who studies it and puts it into practice. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary dates mixology to 1948 and defines it as: “the art or skill of preparing mixed drinks”

Mixologist vs. Bartender

Some claim that the mixologist does more justice to the frosted glass technique than the regular bartender, perhaps this is debatable. A bartender stands around the bar and puts together simple drinks for simple drinkers.

On the other hand, a mixologist is someone who invested a great amount of time mastering the technique involved in preparing the ultimate artsy cocktail. While bartenders tend a bar, mixologists are cocktail artistes who practise mixology.

Fancy Tools

 You wouldn’t think that combining liquids in a glass would require the same amount of tools found in a typical operating room, but surprisingly, there are quite a few instruments that aid mixologists do their job well. Along with the mandatory shakers, tongs, jiggers, peelers, muddlers, stirrers, whizzers and wompers, a mixologist needs an ice pick, a burlap bag, and a hammer.


Create an up and down, forward and back, heave and ho motion that appears very sophisticated to spectators. Act as if an invisible entity as strong as you, has a grip on the shaker and is forcefully trying to take it away from you. The longer and weirder the gesticulations in which you shake a cocktail, the better it will taste. Be warned, however, it also makes you appear somewhat deranged. But what’s the definition of normal, anyway?

Give your baby a well-deserved Name 

It’s not such an outrageous idea to think of your cocktails as children: both start as a crazy idea, you give them a name and spend a lot of time trying to make them perfect. Better yet, why not name your cocktail after deceased celebrity or literary figure, especially if they were known to be a bit of an alcohol erm… enthusiast? This adds instant prestige to your invention.

It’s A-Okay to be Bombastic !

Apart from being creative with your mixtures, one of the best things about being a mixologist is you also get to use funky lingo to explain something fairly simple. Similar to a wine connoisseur, you get to cast yourself in the role of a Cocktail expert, or aficionado, if you will.

Keep a clean bar

When working with beverages, keeping things clean and sanitary is imperative. Wipe the bar-top. Straighten the stools. Turn bottles to face forward. If people think you’re sloppy, they won’t be too impressed. A great mixologist keeps the bar in top-notch condition.

Dress Code: Snazzy

Whether it’s a Bow-tie, vintage spectacles, monocle, fedora, Hawaiian shirt, leather doctor’s bag, Victorian coat, smoking jacket, velvet pants, weird beard or handlebar moustache… Look the part. The dress code is sleek and snazzy, always.

Build Good Rapport with Patrons

A great mixologist has outstanding customer service skills and a personality that charms customers to keep them coming back to the bar. Make sure you’re attentive and stay on top of everything. The most successful mixologists have friendly personalities that connect with clientele. When a customer feels like s/he has a friend in a mixologist, they become a loyal patron.

Mixologists are born, not made. A true mixologist relates to other people, stands out from the crowd, and carries him/herself well. The basic skills of the job can be taught, and the nuts and bolts of it do not require an advanced degree, but a really great mixologist has the natural compulsion to anticipate the minutest details, and is equipped with the skills required to ensure each one is executed correctly. Behind the bar, a mixologist is an illusionist, a showman, a servant, and an actual person all rolled in to one.

So, come down to The Thirsty Barber to imbibe some of our amazing concoctions created by the best mixologists on the island!

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