Book review: 'Spirits of Latin America', by Ivy Mix with James Carpenter

Millie Milliken

Millie Milliken

05 March 2020

Co-owner of Brooklyn's Leyenda (meaning 'legend') cocktail bar and co-founder of Speed Rack, Ivy Mix, has penned a book that pays homage to her college-days travels in Latin America. 'A couple of days after I arrived, I stumbled into Antigua’s now-famous Café No Sé, sat down, ordered a cerveza... I enjoyed the place so much, I went back the next night – and every night thereafter for the whole two months I was in Antigua.'

Clearly, her travels made an impression, as this 256-strong ode to the spirits of Latin America (from Dunder-style rums to sotol, tequila and clairin) is testament. 

Split into three categories – Agave, Sugarcane and Grape – the book's structure gives beginners a helping hand in navigating through it pages.

The 100 different cocktail recipes (some of which can be found in Leyenda) are an excellent way of covering how the spirits of these countries can be used. In Agave, you can expect anything from a classic Margarita to the As She So Told, which tells the story of sotol (a Mexican distilled spirit); Sugarcane spans Mojitos (Mix drank one in every bar she visited while in Havana) to the Clearly Far Affair which includes clairin, inspired by her travels in Haiti; and Grape sees the likes of pisco (both Peruvian and Chilean) cocktails as well as singani get a nod.

The detail in which Mix goes into production, cost, legality, sustainability and history, though, is what really makes this book a must-read for any bartender who wants more than just an introduction. She dispels myths, addresses socio-cultural issues and lays bare the intricate tales that lie behind some of these wonderful spirits. All that while also giving her writing a lightness of of touch that comes with her many, colourful anecdotes. 

The photography of Shannon Stugis is absolutely breath-taking – I can almost taste that cerveza.

£18.99, Ten Speed Press (26 May), Crown Publishing

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