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Jeffrey Lindenmuth

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MASTER OF THEIR DOMAIN

February 13, 2013

What’s with this title?
By Francine Cohen

InsideF&B OpEd Header

This column was born out of journalistic frustration that reached a boiling point. This was after one too many press releases hit the old inbox touting holiday/special event themed cocktail recipes created by, as the publicist sending the release noted, “Master Mixologist insert name here created these signature cocktails for our brand.”

Master Mixologist? Huh? Is that “Master” title anything like the “Master Plumber” title appropriated by the guy in the tax prep company’s commercial who confuses the husband in his kitchen because the two guys first met a week before when the now “Master” plumber was doing the husband’s taxes? Well, not if you ask a Master Plumber. They actually have to have years of apprenticeship and training to call themselves that.

So, back to wetting your pipes, instead of clearing them; we want to know, what the heck does that “Master Mixologist” title mean and who conferred it? Aside from the USBG – which we’ll come back to in a moment – its not as if there are numerous accredited graduate degree programs at universities, the traditional US standard bearers for educational degrees with their alphabet soup shorthand (e.g. BA, BS, MA, PhD, etc.), conferring a Master Mixologist title.

The wine world has such an accepted body; the Court of Master Sommeliers which, through its reputedly rigororous training, names a limited number of skilled wine professionals as “Master Sommelier.”

But where oh where does one go to study and attain this title when they’ve spent their career behind the bar? The USBG offers spirits testing that upon successful completion confers an earned title of “Master.” Livio Lauro, President of the USBG’s MA program, notes, “The program launched in 2009 and we currently have 118 spirits professionals (level 1), 7 advanced bartenders (level 2) and will start our first round of USBG master mixologists in the second half of 2013. This exam will be open to our current 7 advanced bartenders plus any new advanced bartenders that may graduate between now and then.”

Needless to say, none of their names have ever been referenced in these press releases we’ve received. So it leads to the question of why bartenders are being touted as “Master Mixologists” and whether we allow the perpetrators of this title (I.e. PR teams who present it and the media who accept and repeat it) to continue fooling their readers with it.

Let’s take a stand for the sanctity of bartending and marketing and professionalism and demand Continue Reading…