Spotlight: Ivy Mix, Co-Owner and Head Bartender, Leyenda, Brooklyn, N.Y.C.

Ivy Mix, Co-Owner and Head Bartender, Leyenda, Brooklyn, N.Y.C.

Brooklyn Bartender Ivy Mix has a lot of things going for her, including the honor of being named American Bartender of the Year at the 2015 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. More lately, she’s been piling up the accolades at Leyenda, the pan-Latin cocteleria she opened in Brooklyn with long-time mentor and New York cocktail maven Julie Reiner.

Leyenda is inspired by Ivy’s years of living and bartending in Guatemala, as well as extensive travels throughout Latin America. She draws on Latin America’s Pacific influence in a tiki drink with a romantic backstory and The Perfect Purée Pink Guava Puree for her classic and creative coctele menu.

Ivy is a long-time fan of The Perfect Purée and, given Leyenda’s equatorial medium, she appreciates tropical flavors like Pink Guava, which provides distinct flavor and natural sweetness in Feelings Catcher, her tiki interpretation with bourbon, brandy and, yes, rum.

“I made this drink to get a tiki-style drink on our menu,” Ivy explains. “It’s inspired by one of my bartenders, Ryan Liloia, who is a tiki genius. He had started dating his girlfriend and told me he caught feelings real easy, which I thought was adorable, so I named the drink inspired by him for him.”

Ivy is the co-founder of Speed Rack, a cocktail competition she and partner Lynnette Marrero started in 2011 with the dual goal of celebrating female mixologists and raising money for breast cancer research, education and prevention.

Speed Rack entered its eighth year in November 2018 as the first competition of its kind to recognize the emerging generation of talented female bartenders in the traditionally male-dominated service industry. Contestants compete head-to-head in timed events in eight U.S. cities, the U.K. and Canada. Finalists from each city head to New York in May for the national finals. Along with inspiring people to rethink women’s role behind the bar, Speed Rack continues to raise $100,000 annually for charity. Future events will likely be held in London and possibly New Zealand, Paris and Asia.

Ivy also recently went into business with her father, a glassblower in rural Vermont where she grew up the daughter of two artists. Their company, Mixing Glasses, makes specialty glass barware that’s beautiful, functional and as highly coveted as Ivy’s cocktails.

Ivy served her first drink in Guatemala as a 19-year-old student at Bennington College. She returned to Guatemala many times, gaining extensive knowledge of mezcales and tequilas and going so far as to smuggle coveted bottles across the border from Mexico.

In 2009, Ivy started cocktail waitressing at Mayahuel, New York’s East Village bastion of elevated agave culture. It was there she realized she could combine her love and knowledge of spirits and her artistic background with a career in bartending. In New York, Ivy worked with cocktail historian and bar owner St. John Frizzell at Fort Defiance and helped open several bars throughout Brooklyn. In 2010, Julie, the cocktail matriarch behind the world-renowned Clover Club and Flatiron Lounge, noticed her unique talent and hired her to be on the opening staff of Lani Kai in Manhattan.

Ivy returned to Brooklyn, her borough of choice, to work at Julie’s flagship Clover Club and four year later, in May 2015, they opened Leyenda, not far away on Smith Street, Cobble Hill’s cocktail row.