An Interview with Anistatia Miller, 2023 Tales Catalyst International Honoree

Posted on: Mar. 01, 2024 | , , , | By: TOTC Staff

In 2023, Anistatia Miller was honored as a Tales Catalyst and was a featured speaker at the Tales Catalyst Luncheon. The Tales Catalyst Luncheon, formerly called the Dame Hall of Fame, is a celebration of people who have made unique and lasting contributions to the global hospitality industry. Since 2012, the Tales Catalysts have welcomed members to this group of individuals who highlight marginalized groups within the industry and shine a spotlight on leaders actively making changes in their communities.

Industry legend Anistatia Miller, MA, MSc (Ox), director of Mixellany Limited, is an award-winning drinks historian who has been writing about the drinks industry since 1995 with her husband Jared Brown when they launched the website Shaken Not Stirred: A Celebration of the Martini®. Their books include Champagne Cocktails, Deans of Drink, The Soul of Brasil, Spirit of the Cane, The Mixellany Guide to Vermouth and Other Aperitifs, the two-volume award-winning Spirituous Journey: A History of Drink, and most recently The Distiller of London. Miller is finishing her PhD in History on the economic and social history of early modern English brewing. She also teaches early modern European history at the University of Bristol. Miller was the historical consultant in 2009 and 2011 for the content and design of London’s Beefeater Visitor Centre. In 2012, she was the archivist for the historical records of Plymouth Gin held at the Black Friars Distillery in Plymouth, Devon. Together with her husband, she co-founded the Museum of the American Cocktail with Dale and Jill DeGroff, Robert Hess, Chris, and Laura McMillan in 2004; organized the Save the New Orleans Cocktail Hour after Hurricane Katrina, raising $250,000 in two hours to benefit hospitality workers in New Orleans; archived and refurbished Exposition Universelles des Vins et Spiritueux in southern France between 2007 and 2010; curated a free digital library of vintage cocktail books at; organized the speakers’ program at the London Bar Shows from 2007 through 201 and organized the Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix in Cuba from 2012 through 2019.

Tell us about your current job(s).

I’m the director of Mixellany Limited, a publishing and historical research consultancy based in the UK. I also advise on spirits development and write about drinking culture and spirits as an author, specialising in these topics.

Tell us about your career pathway: What events and decisions led you down the road you’re on now?

My father worked for a spirits company in the US. But I wanted to be an archaeologist. I took a righthand turn when I realized how meek academic salaries were and ended up in the publishing industry for about 25 years. When I married my husband Jared Brown in 1991, we both aspired to write for a living. After a few hundred rejections, we found ourselves writing about three subjects we could really sink our teeth into: travel, food, and drink. That decision morphed into a life in drink when our book Shaken Not Stirred: A Celebration of the Martini® placed us in a vaunted position in drinks writing. It’s been over three decades now, and we show no signs of leaving the industry that we both love.

Over the years, many projects seemed to happen by chance. For example, we were invited to southern France on the Côte d’Azur in 2006 to value a private collection of wine and spirits. We found ourselves directing the cataloging of the contents of Exposition Universelle des Vins et Spiritueux as well as managing the building’s restoration for three years. Because of this project, we moved permanently to the UK.

What career milestones and achievements are you the most proud of?

Achieving two master’s degrees in English history and English local history—one at the University of Oxford—and finishing my doctoral thesis on early modern English brewing and distilling at the University of Bristol in my seventies is/was a major achievement of which I am most proud.

Increasingly, I have found that what I can give means far more to me than what I can earn. From free-access to the books we now offer through Mixellany such as The Distiller of London, The Café Royal Cocktail Book and Kokateeru with proceeds going to industry charities, it is wonderful to have the opportunity to enrich others’ lives.

What inspires you?

Research and life: everything around me inspires me. There is so much to be learned from history, and so much lost and forgotten knowledge waiting to be rediscovered and applied. Equally, there is still an infinity of new ideas waiting to be birthed in this world.

What does being a Tales Catalyst mean to you?

Everyone appreciates recognition. But it meant something far more important to me. It represents acceptance. It represents belonging. Being mixed race—as I said in my Tales Catalyst speech—doesn’t mean that you are part of multiple ethnicities. It means you are not recognized or accepted as part of any ethnicity. People spend a lot of time identifying themselves and grouping themselves by gender and even more by ethnicity. Anyone of mixed race can tell you about it, and life as an outsider, about life without a blood community.

I had a lifetime of learning how to survive alone. It’s a far more pleasant lesson learning how to accept being welcomed into a culture, a community. And that is what this group is building up around the award and the lunches: It is a very positive community.

What advice do you have for a person starting in the spirits industry?

Ask a carpenter for advice and you be handed a hammer. My advice? Never stop learning. Never stop being a student. Always take time to give back to the community as well. Believe me, what you give will ultimately mean far more to you than what you take. Spirits is also a rather unique route in life. It is less about industry and more about “family” at the end of the day. Always keep that in mind. Be good to those around you. Let your family grow. So many great and wonderful people make it their life work.

This industry tends to attract remarkable individuals, highly intelligent and creative people, and far more misfits than other fields. Welcome! You’ve chosen a great life.

Applications to be a Tales Catalyst are being accepted from March 4 through March 18. To apply, click here.

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