The Story Behind The Tia Mia

Anagrams, or a phrase created by rearranging the letters of another, are a funny thing in language and literature. “Astronomer” becomes “moon starer,” “the Morse Code” can be flipped into “here come dots.” But why stop at words? In a sense, cocktail recipe riffs are the anagrams of mixology, and provide a new lens with which to view the building blocks of the drinks we love. That’s exactly the case with the Tia Mia, an anagram and mezcal-forward take on Trader Vic’s Mai Tai.

The tale of the Tia Mia dates back to 2010 when Ivy Mix, co-owner of Brooklyn’s Leyenda and recently opened wine bar Whoopsie Daisy, was tinkering with mezcal riffs on classic cocktails. At the time, her mentor Julie Reiner had just opened Lani Kai, a short-lived tiki bar in Manhattan, and recruited Mix to be on staff. “We had a Mai Tai on the menu that had a blend of rums, and I started doing mezcal floats on my Mai Tais because I loved mezcal,” Mix says. After some further R&D, she “ended up adapting Julie Reiner‘s Mai Tai recipe, taking out the rhum agricole, and substituting it with an Espadín mezcal.”

Lani Kai closed in 2012, but three years later, Reiner and Mix opened the Latin-spirits-focused bar Leyenda right across the street from Reiner’s Clover Club. The duo put the Tia Mia on the opening menu, and it’s stayed there ever since.

On perfecting the drink, Mix claims that “it was a remarkably quick process, but this was also back in the day when creating a new cocktail was as easy as substituting something simple.” For the mezcal, Mix opts for Del Maguey Vida, which showcases Espadín agave. If the local liquor store doesn’t carry that bottle, don’t fret. Espadín accounts for roughly 85 percent of mezcal production, so a suitable replacement won’t be hard to find.


  • 1 ounce Del Maguey Vida mezcal
  • 1 ounce Appleton Estate Reserve Jamaica rum
  • ½ ounce toasted almond orgeat, such as Orgeat Works T’Orgeat
  • ½ ounce dry curaçao, such as Pierre Ferrand
  • ¾ ounce lime juice
  • Garnish: lime wheel, pineapple frond, and an edible orchid


  1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Shake until chilled.
  3. Strain into a chilled double rocks glass over crushed ice.
  4. Garnish with a lime wheel, a pineapple frond, and an edible orchid.

Rate This Recipe:

(2 votes)

Yield: 1
Calories: 220
Updated: 2024-05-30

The Tia Mia