Francis Lam, over on Gourmet, sets the record straight:
Here’s a message to all the mixologists out there: Dude, you’re a bartender. It’s okay; it’s cool. Bartenders are cool.
Okay, so you’re the gal that found yourself a piece of fruit and some obscure booze and you want to set yourself apart from all the unemployed actors who pour vodka tonics all night long? Sure, but remember that the classic cocktails that inspire you were all invented by bartenders.
Here’s where “status” certainly comes into play – How does one differentiate between someone who pours Bud Lite from a tap all weekend versus another person who knows how to create the perfect Mojito, can rattle off the different types of rum, and uses honest-to-god egg whites in their flips? Well change the name of bartender of course!
Personally, I don’t care what they call themselves, as long as they are friendly and get my drink order right. But a lot of this identity crisis might be able to be traced back to the bartender being taken for granted. Once cocktail mixes became the domain of beverage companies instead of the bartender, the title lost a bit of its luster.
To this I say – Bartenders! Dare to be snobby! Educate people on what really makes up a martini. Introduce people to real grenadine. Understand the full range of bitters. Make your own cocktail mixes and mock those who try to mass produce them. Reclaim the art of bartending! If you’re a beer jockey, introduce people to ales and lagers that have more depth of flavor than the near-tasteless varieties brought forth by the Coor’s and Miller’s of the world. Show a healthy disdain for light beers! Most of all, have an opinion!
Of course this is how the bartending world works in my mind. I have no idea if it is practical in a real life setting.