Co-founder, Speed Rack
Jul 13, 2021
Nothing in Ivy Mix’s background—except maybe her name—would suggest she’d turn out to be one of the most celebrated bartenders in the country by her early 30s. The co-owner and head bartender of the Latin-inspired Leyenda, Mix grew up in tiny Tunbridge, Vermont. Her first ambition was to be an Olympic horseback rider.
Mezcal would change all that. While traveling in Guatemala at age 19, she amassed a large tab at a local ex-pat hangout that ran on the honor system. She paid it off bartending, and in the process got her first taste of behind-the-bar culture. And her first taste of mezcal, which she actually began smuggling over the border from Mexico.
After moving to New York in 2008 (and a miserable stint working at the Gagosian Gallery), Mix became a cocktail waitress and began apprenticing as a bartender. As she mastered the art of mixology, she couldn’t help noticing that the majority of the people in her field were, well, dudes.
“Everyone has curly-cue mustaches and the beards and the fucking pork pie hat and suspenders,” she tells Brooklyn Magazine.
So she and a partner launched Speed Rack, an all-female high-speed bartending competition designed to highlight up-and-coming women in the cocktail industry. In the decade since, Speed Rack has raised more than $1 million for breast cancer research.
In 2015, Mix would co-found Leyenda on Smith Street, a Brooklyn bar and restaurant that pulls from her Latin American experience and mezcal expertise, that in 2019 would be nominated for a James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program. All of this would go in to her first book, which came out during the peak lockdown months of the pandemic. “Spirits of Latin America: A Celebration of Culture & Cocktails, With 100 Recipes From Leyenda & Beyond” is as much a travelogue as it is a recipe book, though, which afforded some small taste of escapism for its readers.
And this year, as if she didn’t have enough going on, she opened Fiasco!, in Crown Heights with two partners—a bottle shop with an emphasis on female, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ producers, as well as local favorites, sustainable brands and some hard-to-find drinks. (It’s called Fiasco! because Mix and her partners couldn’t open the store for 13 months after they signed their lease due to Covid.)