Up Your Mocktail Game by Learning the Art of Dry Mixology
Dry mixology has become an increasingly important section on the menu of any bar or restaurant.
Non-alcoholic mixed drinks, or mocktails as they are often known, are growing in popularity. There is an incredible range of tastes and sensations that can be achieved with the art of dry mixology, resulting in some spectacular drinks.
Why not learn the art of dry mixology and add to your repertoire of bar skills?
What is dry mixology?
There’s something slightly mystical and mysterious in the term “mixology.”
The word itself is centuries old. It first appeared in the Merriam-Webster dictionary back in 1872 as a word to describe the skill of mixing drinks. We can, perhaps, imagine Victorian figures at this time, bent over their concoctions, engrossed in their world.
However, today the word has an even greater depth of meaning.
Anybody, professional bartender or not, who can claim to know the art of mixology must have a learned, in-depth knowledge and understanding of the chemistry of mixed drinks.
There has been both serious study and lengthy practice of this science. There is a dedication to learning both the history of the subject and ideal practices, as well as a commitment to further innovation and invention.
But a mixologist is both a scientist, historian and an artist, because there is a theatrical element to the term mixology.
A mixologist seeks not to merely produce a pleasant drink but to provoke an emotional reaction from the drinker, perhaps to transport them elsewhere to another time or place, to create a jolt of excitement or to stir the soul.
A dry mixologist must be all this and more. They have the skills to create incredible drinks without using any alcoholic ingredients. They are the designer and innovator of incredible, fascinating and utterly delicious non-alcoholic cocktails.
Why learn dry mixology?
Aside from the pleasure and gratification that comes from learning a new skill or subject in-depth, there are more reasons than ever to learn dry mixology.
Several consumer studies have suggested that non-alcoholic drinks and mocktails are a fast-growing trend.
One such study, undertaken by Distill Ventures 2019 and reported by Forbes, surveyed bartenders and consumers between 2017 and 2019. In both the US and the UK, consumers were looking for greater choice in non-alcoholic beverages. Eighty-three percent of LA bartenders felt dry mixology was very much a growing trend.
Data from Google trends also shows increases over the past five years for online searches for the terms “mocktail,” “mocktail recipes” and “non-alcoholic drinks,” suggesting that there is a peak in interest from enthusiasts and bartenders looking to learn the art of dry mixology and increase their repertoire.
Careers in dry mixology
This is a good time to be considering a career in dry mixology. As well as bar tending and bar management work, there are opportunities to work for drinks companies, perhaps in promotional work and, particularly excitingly, in product development.
Perhaps you are a bartender or mixologist looking to further your skills and to diversify. Perhaps you’d like to learn the art of mixology but would prefer not to work with alcoholic drinks. Either way, you should consider taking a course in dry mixology.
What would I learn on a dry mixology course?
A dry mixology course is an in-depth study of the art, history and science of mixed, non-alcoholic drinks. It will combine both theory and practice. Depending on the provider, the course will likely last several days.
Whether you are a serious enthusiast, or a professional bartender or mixologist, you will be looking for a high-quality course to make the most of your time. When examining the content of any potential course, make sure it includes the following:
By learning the history of mixology, you will have a firm foundation of knowledge from which to base your practice. This should include the evolution of the bartender and mixologist, as well as the history of soft drinks and mocktail trends over time.
Tools and equipment
You should learn how to use all the tools at a professional bartender’s disposal, including their handling, hygiene, cleaning and maintenance. You should also learn the ideal set up and workflow to ensure smooth operations.
It is vital to learn both the chemistry of drinks and how it affects taste and texture. Therefore, course content should include:
- The classification and production methods of a range of soft drinks
- An overview of available ingredients and their key properties
- The science behind the use of still vs carbonated ingredients
- How to balance bitter, sweet, sour and salty flavours
The course must include plenty of practical opportunities to put into practice the theories learned and the use of professional bartending tools.
By the end of the course, you should confidently be able to use the main methods of mocktail (and cocktail) preparation: stirring, building up, layering, shaking, straining, smashing and blending.
You should learn how to prepare some classic recipes. However, you should also graduate from the class with enough grounding to feel that you can begin to experiment with your own concoctions and unique recipes.
There is an element of showmanship to mixology and a good course will acknowledge this, giving you the confidence to prepare mixed drinks under the watchful eye of your customers and guests.
Exquisite presentation is a key element of the mocktail experience. Your course should teach you the classic presentation methods, as well as equipping you with some ideas to find your own unique style of presenting drinks.
These are the key elements of a dry mixology and bartending fundamentals course. More advanced practitioners may wish to move on to skills involving molecular mixology, including how to use foams and gels, liquid nitrogen and much more.
Whether you want to learn dry mixology for professional or career reasons, to impress dinner party guests, or as a hobby, an intensive course offers an exciting opportunity to immerse yourself in this exciting subject. This way, you’ll also be guided by incredibly knowledgeable and skilled professionals.
Shanaaz Raja is the Course Director at International Centre for Culinary Arts – ICCA Dubai.