Ivy Mix: The farmyard dream

07 August, 2018

Shay Waterworth meets Ivy Mix, owner of Leyenda in Brooklyn and a mixologist with many accolades to her appropriate name


I HAVE THIS dream of running a bar in upstate New York where I have my farm and a little barn with my horse and a donkey to keep it company. I would drive an old 1960s Chevy truck and the only award I would care about is on a horse.”

Born in Vermont, Ivy Mix is the daughter of a glassblower and a textile designer and her biggest passion isn’t serving Moscow Mules, but riding horses. “My original plan when I first went to college was to train horses and my goal was to go to the Olympics,” says Mix.

“I do a form of riding called eventing. It’s the adrenaline junkies’ version of dressage and I started riding horses when I was a child. My sister and I were not planned – my mum had us when she was 40 and I think riding was an excuse for her to get us out of her hair.

“My mum wanted one boy and ended up with two girls. She’s nine years older than my dad so he wanted to keep the child and she was going to call it John.

“They’ve been best friends all their life but I don’t think they had a very traditional relationship. I don’t really have any memory of my parents living together. I think dad moved out when I was six but they’re both super parents.”

Mix also has a close relationship with her identical twin sister. The pair live less than a mile away from each other in Brooklyn and they share a dog called Sampson.

Having fled Vermont aged 19 to escape a crazy ex-boyfriend, Mix ended up in Guatemala living with a rug-maker. Here she was introduced to the backpacker and expat lifestyle, getting her first bartender job in Café No Sé, a mezcal bar. While living in Antigua she paired up with the founder of Ilegal mezcal and they dressed as missionaries to smuggle the spirit across boarders.

Mix’s next major move was to the Big Apple. After working at various bars in 2008, she was employed by Julie Reiner at Lani Kai and later Clover Club. The partnership ultimately led to the joint venture of Leyenda.

In 2015 Mix won American Bartender of the Year at Tales of the Cocktail and, although she shows genuine gratitude for her success, it’s not always easy for her to accept. She says: “The issue I have with this industry is that there’s so much pressure to be the best and to win every award. That’s what I hated when I opened Leyenda, because people were expecting everything.

“I’ve got to this place where Leyenda is doing so well and, for the first time in 14 years, I don’t want to have an official shift behind the bar. But because of my own projects and travelling I’m not managing or bartending in my own bar – I just own it, which is pretty sad.”

Mix’s Speed Rack cocktail competition has been going for nearly eight years, acting as a platform for female bartenders to be seen in the industry. Despite its success around the world, Mix says she can’t stop yet with so much still to achieve in this area, but she likes having several projects on the go at once. “I’m ready for another project, but I’m not sure what it’ll be,” she adds.

“Leyenda will never be in the World’s 50 Best Bars. I think it’s the best bar in the world but I don’t want people to expect it to be. I just want it to mean a lot to the local people as a community bar rather than getting awards.”

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