Be sure to view all of our previous entries in the Women in Hospitality series.
Ivy Mix is co-owner of Leyenda (with Julie Reiner), her James Beard-nominated, pan-Latin inspired cocktail bar in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn and Fiasco! Wine + Spirits, her bottle shop in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Leyenda has won many awards and has been recognized as being one of the best bars in America.
With a long history of working in bars throughout the Americas, Ivy has been recognized by many within the culinary and cocktail industry as being one of the best bartenders in the country and in 2015 was named American Bartender of the Year at Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards and in 2016 was named Mixologist of the Year by Wine Enthusiast.
Additionally, Ivy has inspired the nation to rethink women’s role behind the bar. She conceptualized and later, with Lynnette Marrero, co-founded Speed Rack, a national cocktail competition that creates a platform for the women+ bartending community while simultaneously raising money for breast cancer-related charities. Speed Rack started in 2011 and has taken the world by storm. So far they have raised over $1.75 million for charity. In 2019, they were honored by receiving two Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards: for Philanthropy and World’s Best Bar Mentors.
In honor of their efforts with Speed Rack, The Pink Agenda recognized the duo at its annual gala, which took place on Thursday, October 5 at Tribeca Rooftop. The Icon Award recognizes members of the community exhibiting unwavering dedication and empowering the current generation to continue inspirational efforts in supporting breast cancer survivors and research.
Speed Rack is also once again collaborating with Shaker & Spoon to offer at-home cocktail kits that bring the lively and creative spirit of the competition to bartending enthusiasts across the country while supporting The Pink Agenda. Between 76%-85% of proceeds from each kit are donated to The Pink Agenda.
We caught up with Ivy to discuss Speed Rack, The Icon Award, cocktail trends, and more!
Speed Rack recently hosted its Season 11 finals at Tales. Eleven seasons in, what does the program now mean to the industry? How has it changed?
Speed Rack has changed a lot in the last 12 years that we have been doing it and it has changed alongside our political climate. When we started, feminism was in a cultural lull. We started with the intention of creating diversity in bars and that has not changed, but the political and global landscape has changed. Feminism got a new wave of energy during the #MeToo movement. Around the world, women were standing up to be heard. During this time, Speed Rack fought and was active. Additionally, our world has become more aware of the vast spectrum of gender identity. Just saying "female" can be exclusionary. Because our goal has always been to create diversity in bars, we've found that our mission has become more intentional and purposeful.
We've had thousands of women compete over the years in Speed Rack, and I am seeing more diversity behind the bar than ever. I am honored to have been part of the mission to make that happen. With breast cancer, unfortunately, the rate has stayed essentially the same over the last 12+ years. We have raised about $1.75 million for the cause, and I hope one day we see this disease end.
What does it mean to you to receive The Icon Award from The Pink Agenda?
Lynnette and I have been recognized by our industry for the work we have done, for example, winning the Mentorship and Philanthropy awards at Tales of the Cocktail in 2019 was amazing. But this award, so outside of our industry for a charity I so respect, is such a huge honor.
Tell our readers more about the BCAM Fundraiser with the Speed Rack Shaker & Spoon Cocktail Kits.
Our collaboration with Shaker & Spoon is one of my favorites since it brings the fun and liveliness of Speed Rack to people's homes during the off-season while directly supporting our cause. Between 75%-85% of proceeds from each kit are donated to The Pink Agenda and we love engaging with our community beyond the competitions while providing an opportunity for people at home to brush up on their skills.
Are you seeing any particular cocktail trends?
Right now people are still into lower-ABV drinks. Even in fall, people want spritzes and highballs.
What are some of the top challenges in the hospitality industry right now?
Staffing is incredibly difficult in the world right now; I hear it everywhere I go. A huge swath of industry left during the pandemic, and we are all trying to rebuild with young staff. The benefit is that there are a lot of new, fresh, and excited people joining the industry, but the talent pool for the amount of bars out there is small.
Any advice for other women in the hospitality industry?
Keep walking, one step after another, and work for what you want.
Photo courtesy of Erick Medsker.
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Plan to Attend or Participate in the 2024 Bar & Restaurant Expo, March 18-20, 2024
To learn about the latest trends, issues and hot topics, and to experience and taste the best products within the bar, restaurant and hospitality industry, plan to attend Bar & Restaurant Expo 2024 in Las Vegas. Early bird registration is now open!
To book your sponsorship or exhibit space at the 2024 Bar & Restaurant Expo, contact:
Veronica Gonnello (for companies A to G) e: [email protected] p: 212-895-8244
Tim Schultz (for companies H to Q) e: [email protected] p: 917-258-8589
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