Going 10 Rounds with Award-Winning Bartender Ivy Mix
The top New York bartender tackles our speed round of questions.
What do you like to drink after a shift? “I am pretty simple! Because I am always mixing drinks and tasting them throughout the night, when I am done and ready to go home, I love a great glass of red wine. The fuller the better.”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? “Hmm... Good one! I think it depends on who I am with. Usually it is country for me. Dolly Parton “Jolene” is my fave. Or, I’m a Red Sox fan, so “Sweet Caroline” is always a hit.”
What’s your favorite city to drink in besides your own? “San Francisco or Paris. Both are wonderful for day drinking, which is my favorite kind of drinking. From great cocktail bars to cafes to dives, these are the best places.”
Name the first good drink you ever drank and where you had it. “Oh man... I don’t know. My mother used to make this drink called a Rum Po Po with Appleton Rum and small Jamaican limes cut and squeezed in, kind of like a Ti Punch. Delicious and simple.”
What book on cocktails, spirits or food is your go-to resource? “I always read pastry books for inspiration. Pastry chefs work with sweet, sour, and savory like we do in cocktails. But the one I always keep around is the Flavor Thesaurus and a close second is the Flavor Bible.”
What cocktail was the toughest one for you to master? “I think a Jungle Bird is a delicious but difficult drink to get a handle on. Especially once you’ve had the one at the Aviary you’re like, ‘Jesus. I need to up my game.’ Now, I am not a molecular science genius, but I think I’ve finally tweaked my recipe so it’s not too blackstrap-y, pineapple-y, or Campari-y in any direction.”
When you have a night off and you’re drinking in someone else’s bar, do you prefer to sit on a bar stool, in a booth or at a table? “Bar. Always. Even when I eat in fancy restaurants I want to sit at the bar. I don’t like tables.”
What drink are you most proud of creating? “I like my Tia Mia. It was the first drink I put on one of Julie Reiner’s menus when I first started working for her at Lani Kai back in the day. Now she’s my business partner and the Tia Mia is a staple on our menu at Leyenda. It’s a Mai Tai variation with mezcal and Jamaican rum, add some orgeat, lime, and curaçao and there you go.”
What’s your favorite shot-and-a-beer combination? “Well... I’m gluten free, so no beer for me unfortunately. I do drink my weight’s worth of cider, though. I like Basque-style funky cider, like Isastegi with a shot of something sweeter, like Calvados or maybe Cynar (or a combo of both!).”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “I like to bring my father’s mixing glasses with me. I like to stir drinks at events rather than shake for stamina and my dad’s [hand-blown] mixing glasses are super beautiful and make an impact.”
Ivy Mix is co-owner of pan-Latin cocktail bar Leyenda in Brooklyn. In 2015, she was named best American bartender at the Tales of the Cocktails conference.
Interview has been condensed and edited.