Story in a Glass: Tia Mia

by Laren Spirer

I believe that just about every cocktail out there has some sort of story behind it. Perhaps it was originally developed for a competition but ended up with enough staying power that it wound up on a cocktail menu; maybe it was a quest to work with a particular seasonal ingredient; it could have been inspired by a song lyric, a painting, or a relationship gone wrong. This column is an attempt to capture what goes into creating a specific drink – the story in a glass.

Ivy Mix spent a significant portion of her early adult life in Guatemala, a radical change of pace and scenery from her hometown in rural Vermont.  While she was there, she wandered into Café No Se, where she was exposed for the first time to two things that became powerful forces in her life from then on: mezcal and bartending. Spending time at Café No Se and later in Mexico with John Rexer, who went on to form Ilegal Mezcal, she gained in-depth knowledge of what was still a lesser-known spirit when she eventually moved to New York. Coincidentally, Phil Ward had just opened Mayahuel and, at the suggestion of a mutual friend, she dropped him a line. As a cocktail waitress at Mayahuel, Ivy found a place where she was surrounded by her favorite spirit, sharing her knowledge with patrons and fellow staff members, and during that time she got a crash course in the craft cocktail world.  

After Mayahuel, Ivy moved on to Lani Kai, Julie Reiner’s tribute to her native Hawaii, complete with island flavors and a healthy dose of tiki. Working behind the bar, she took her bartending skills and experience to the next level. As an artist, Ivy’s natural creativity serves her well when she turns her mind to crafting cocktails. During her time at Lani Kai, Ivy wanted to make a classic tiki drink using mezcal – a decidedly non-tiki spirit. The result is her Tia Mia, a devilishly smoky play on a Mai Tai. The drink now resides on the menu at Reiner’s Clover Club.

Tia Mia by Ivy Mix

  • 1 oz. Appleton Reserve Rum (a nod to Jamaica, where Ivy also lived)
  • 1 oz. Del Maguey Vida
  • ¾ oz. lime juice
  • ½ oz. Tiki Adam’s toasted almond orgeat
  • ½ oz. Dry Curacao
  • 1 tsp sugar

Shake and strain over crushed ice. Garnish with a lime wheel, mint, and an orchid.

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