Making Mixology Approachable

Michael Tipps consulting live at a Nightclub & Bar Show seminar. Image: Getty

Editor's Note: The following is one in a series of blogs provided by the experts who have worked incredibly hard to make Spike TV's "Bar Rescue" reality program, starring Nightclub & Bar Media Group President Jon Taffer, such a success. The Bar Rescue Insider blog series will deliver tried-and-true tips and tricks to help bar owners, operators and managers solve common problems and increase their bottom line. Tune in to every Wednesday for the next edition of Bar Rescue Insider!


The fascination with mixology is great for the bar and restaurant world. It has, in many ways, rejuvenated the bar industry. Patrons now have a new appreciation of spirits and the amount of work it takes to make a great cocktail.

The mixology community has gotten a reputation for being a bit snooty. Many mixologists act as if they’re creating a science experiment rather than a cocktail for a paying guest. The patron waits a very long time for a very expensive drink, and the mixologist smiles as though his guest is, in fact, fortunate to have been served at all. With that type of attitude, the bar begins to lose its clientele right then and there.

It is so important for bartenders/mixologists to remember that they are in the hospitality industry. The guest experience can span a lifetime if we educate — not alienate — patrons who do not understand what bartenders/mixologists do. Get guests interested in what you’re making! Teach them as you make their drinks. It’s a great way to shine as well as build trust with a new patron.

Once a customer feels involved, it changes his or her perspective. It’s a game changer.

I believe it’s vital to remind any mixologist who works with or for you that he or she is still a bartender. The title isn’t a downgrade; after all, a teacher with a doctorate is still a teacher.

In my opinion, mixology is a skill, not a job title. Mixologists still tend to a bar, and even though the average bartender may not know how to make a Blood and Sand or a Sazerac, he or she hopefully has a big smile and the ability to connect to another person. Isn’t that why we all go out to bars anyway — to interact with one another?

Bartenders can improve by learning about spirits and challenge themselves to make and learn new cocktails. Mixologists can improve by remembering to smile and connect with the person on the other side of the bar.

Someone once told me, “The quality of your bonds can determine the quality of your life.”

Build great bonds, and watch your relationships — and your business — soar.

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