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Think it sounds too good to be true? Well, you can – take a leaf out of these boozy pros’ books and cash in.

There’s a mint to be made in the cocktail and drinks industry (and not just as a garnish).

Those professionals who make it their business to know a Rioja from a Riesling and a margarita from a mojito can make a more than comfy salary.

The best part? They’re earning money doing something they love. We asked some industry experts how to get in at the ground level...

The mixologist

“It doesn’t require an awful lot of training,” says Cuan Dumas of his profession as a mixologist at The Folly Bar in London.

Though he’s won several awards for his innovative and elaborate concoctions (truffled Japanese whiskey sour = yum), his beginnings weren’t exactly fancy.

“I used to work at this small town bar that only served beers,” Dumas recalls.

“The only cocktail they made was a Shirley Temple.”

He says that his enthusiasm helped make up for his lack of experience.

“When I started, I worked at the bar. When the mixologist that was there left, I just got excited about the cocktail menu and started getting involved with gastronomy cocktails and infusions, and playing with spirits.”

The main thing in his field, Dumas says, is research.

When he’s not behind the bar, he’s trying out other cocktail lounges around London or scouring gardens and farmers’ markets for fresh inspiration.

Even at home, he’s always experimenting with new ingredients and garnishes. 

“Any bartender can be a mixologist if they have a passion for making cocktails,” he says. 

Though the “unsociable hours” might prove a challenge to some (nights and weekends are a mixologist’s prime shifts), other perks make the job.

Dumas regularly gets to travel for research at the behest of his company, and says the job is a great way to meet people.

He reckons that between the base salary and service charge, mixologists can earn upwards of £500 per week.

The beer sommelier

Drinking beer for a living may sound like a dream job, but it’s still hard work.  After all, developing an encyclopedic knowledge of anything, let alone beer, is no easy task.

“The first thing you need to do is expand your knowledge,” says Rod Jones, the beer sommelier at the Meantime Brewery.

The good bit about this is that it means you’ll need to  practice, which will entail not just reading a copious amount of beer literature (there’s heaps out there), but drinking lots of beer. 

“Don’t just sit down and order five Heineken,” he warns. “Really push your boundaries.”

It’s also vital to learn to distinguish the various notes of each brew.

“You get a lot more flavours in beers than you do in wines, because beers involve more ingredients,” Jones explains.

“You want to be able to try and link up those flavours with food.”  

As for salary, those starting out can expect to earn around £23,000.

The best way to break into the business, Jones says, is to get a job at a craft beer bar.

“That’s a great way to build up some trade experience,” he says.


Boozy careers: Love a drink and want a job getting paid to do it?
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