mix•ol•o•gist [mik-sol-uh-jist] noun a person skilled in making mixed drinks; bartender.
Though there is some hesitancy in dubbing a mixologist the same as a bartender. A bartender is expected to know a large mass of common and popular cocktails, serve many people at once, and put on the charm like a late 1980’s Tom Cruise. A mixologist, on the other hand, is expected to study and experiment with drinks to produce a desirable new mixed cocktail. It’s an art and craft, and the concoction of a new drink is their focus. They are more like Christian Bale in The Prestige..magicians.
While it may seem the word “mixologist” is that of new and possibly deemed trendy, the first image presented on this post is actually the cover image of a book published in 1933. (Tom Cruise wasn’t even born until the 1960’s.)
And so, what brought this to my attention was an interview with Brad Larson, the second person interviewed for our book and the owner of Joe’s Wines and Liquor who said, “All my guys are mixologists,” speaking in regards to the people they hire. “We school people on how to make different things. That’s another thing we’re good at, is making sure that if there’s someone who wants to make a signature cocktail, we can come up with something.” And he’s right! I went just last week for advice on which tequila is best to use in conjunction with a list of other beverages to mix with for a good margarita. The result was an instant upgrade from my previous margarita AND the guy I spoke with added a bonus Beatles concert story he recalled during his stay in Chicago. I only get that kind of service at Joe’s, guys.
Brad Larson, in addition, is a gentleman you can trust to keep the place running so well. This year will make Larson the owner of Joe’s for 17 years. In addition, he comes from a food and beverage background since his high school days, whether by waiting tables or working as a cook. He worked with the Hilton hotel chain for a couple of years and then worked for Hyatt for three years in their training program involving hotel management basically doing “everything from purchasing to running the bars to selling to buying all the wine, making all the schedules for cocktail waitresses, bartenders, ran room service for a while, I mean just about everything.” Larson recalls. Later he moved on to wine distributing companies which took him to Nashville for a few years but made his way back to Memphis.
Thanks to Brad Larson for the time he shared imparting history behind the store and famous sputnik sign. And thanks to his crew for always helping a dame out when there are so many fancy beer, wine, and liquor options to choose from.
Lastly, heres a video on how to make a Tom Collins for your pleasure.