Music and cocktails go together like – well, like all that’s good in the world quite frankly. Which is why, each month we’ll be asking one of our favourite bartenders to talk about five key points in their lives as they pick out the records and drinks that capture those moments. And as an extra treat, we’ve compiled a Spotify playlist of their all-time favourite tunes for your listening pleasure. Joy!

Who better to start with than someone who’s name fits the music and drinks genres like a ‘T’? Give it up for Ms Ivy Mix. An American by birth, Ivy has spent her life travelling around the world, absorbing the sights, sounds, and drinks of various countries. She’s the co-owner, with Julie Reiner, of the bar Leyenda, and co-founder of Speed Rack, the cocktail competition that pits some of the world’s best female bartenders against each other in order to raise money for breast cancer charities.

Here she talks about being a rebellious teen, her first bartending job in Guatemala and the impact Julie Reiner has had on her career…

So Ivy, tell us about your younger years. What were you like as a teenager?

I led a real double life. I could be rebellious, a bit of a trouble maker, and a pot stirrer. I thought I was older and wiser than I actually was and generally, I was a pretty bad teen and pre-teen. On the other hand, I was incredibly studious. A straight-A student, and the real odd thing is that I was a competitive horseback rider. So I oscillated between sleepless nights spent partying and then getting myself together for a test or horse competition.

What record sums up this time in your life?

The first CD I ever bought was Coolio’s, Gangster’s Paradise. In my memory this was before I was a ‘bad’ kid, but looking back it was probably the precursor. 

What drink represents this time for you?

I remember the first alcoholic thing I ever drank at a party was a vodka and coke with my older cousin.

What was the first ever cocktail you made?

When I was a kid (before my bad years), I used to spend four to six-plus months a year in the Portland Parish of Jamaica, with my mother and father and sister. It was a get away from the reality of cold, central Vermont where we lived. This was where I made my first ever cocktail. It was for my mother who used to love to getting small Jamaican limes, cutting them in half, and squeezing them over ice with Appleton Rum. The drink was almost like a Ti Punch, but with Jamaican rum and no sugar cane. We called it the Rum Po Po. 

What record sums up this time in your life?

If I had to choose one I would have to say… Exodus by Bob Marley.

What made you want to become a bartender? And where was your first bar job?

My first bar job was at Café No Sé, in Antigua Guatemala. It was the best job ever. I was 19, living abroad and as happy as I ever was. I used to live and work there for half the year, and the other half I spent at college in Vermont. The bar was a real mixture of young and old, full of artists, expats, musicians and Guatemalans. It was an amazing time, I haven’t been back in years, but I really want to! 

What record sums up this time in your life?

During my time spent in Guatemala I worked and lived with an 80-year-old man named Bo, who was a dear dear friend to me. We had the habit of shutting down the bar to Peggy Lee’s, Fever. It was the best.

What drink represents this time for you?

At Café No Sé, we had a regular, named Tono, who used to always drink Mezcal and Tonic. This was made with the precursor to what would become Ilegal Mezcal. Made correctly, the drink comes with Ilegal Reposado, tonic, ice, and lime.

What/who was the turning point in your career?

Julie Reiner. She hired me at her bar Lani Kai when it opened, (I can’t remember what year – I think it was 2010), in the SoHo district of New York. At the time I was considering moving to San Francisco, because I was having a hard time climbing the bartending ladder in NYC. It was all a big move for me. From there I went to Julie Reiner’s, Clover Club. I spent a total of four years there and then Julie and I decided we wanted to open our own bar. We opened Leyenda together and it’s been going since May 2015.

What record sums up this time in your life?

The Reggae version of Miike Snow’s Animal played all the time at Leyenda.

What drink best captures this time for you?

The cocktail I most associate with Julie, has to be The Gin Blossom. That drink really showed me how to modify a classic and make it your own.

Where are you in your career now?

Starting Speed Rack was a big big thing for me. It started a life of travelling around the country and then the world. I’ve always had a huge sense of wanderlust and that has translated into traveling A LOT! When I’m gone I always miss my little bar and the amazing staff who work there (not to mention my friends and family). 2019 has even more travel on the docket, which means a lot of time spent in airplanes and chasing that Delta Diamond Medallion (and paying $$ to offset my carbon emissions while I’m at it!).

What record sums up this time in your life?

I would have to choose the song, Baby Where You Are, by Mountain Man. They’re a fantastic group of women, from Bennington College, which is the same 500 person college I went to as a student.

What drink best captures this time for you?

One Drink? I would say a copa of Mezonte Tepe. It’s a mezcal in the real sense of the word, that comes from Jalisco, Mexico.

Quickfire questions:

If you could only have one spirit that you had to have while stranded on a desert island what would it be?

Mezcal! Any day. 

If you could only have one cocktail that you could have on your desert island what would it be?

Negroni for sure… Or a Piña colada! 

What would be the one song that you would pick to accompany you on your desert island?

Just one song? Hmmm… I would say something by John Moreland, maybe Gospel.  

What luxury item would you take with you on your desert island?

A set of my mama’s sheets!  You can get them from anichini.com – check that shit out – it’s the most luxurious and comfortable bedding in the entire world. If I’m on a desert island I’ll be sleeping a ton, so my bed would be as pimp as all hell. 

Want more from Ivy Mix? Check out her playlist here:

Interview by Miles Watson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to our mailing list

First Name Email Address

Subscribe to our mailing list

First Name Email Address