Originally from Umea in Sweden, Mia began her cocktail career in London working at prestigious venues including Mark’s Bar at Hix with Nick Strangeway, and Milk & Honey London.
“When I came to London I got a job at Mark’s Bar at HIX London. My boss was a gentleman called Nick Strangeway [now creative director at Strange Hill beverage consultancy]. You can’t get any luckier than that, to have someone who helped create the modern bar scene in the UK, as your manager. I had no clue about anything when I first started; I just knew how to pull pints and talk to people.
“I snuck into all the drinks trainings I could around London’s Soho area and read all the recommended books. I thought everyone else just knew this knowledge.”
After a couple of years across the pond in New York creating the bar for Lafayette Grand Cafe with chef Andrew Carmellini, Mia returned to London where she and husband Bobby Hiddleston ran a series of pop-ups with a view to opening their own bar.
In November 2016 they opened Swift, in Old Compton Street, Soho.
The two-storey bar offers light aperitifs and pre-dinner drinks in its main room, while the downstairs space features an ‘intelligently compiled’ list of whiskies from around the world in a more opulent, 1950s-inspired Art Deco setting.
More than half the whiskies on offer at Downstairs at Swift are Scotch whisky, with the remainder including bottlings from America, Ireland, Japan and elsewhere.
The main upstairs bar is continental Europe-meets-local pub vibe with an emphasis on Champagne, fortified wine and beer, with small plates including native and rock oysters.
‘When we moved back to the UK we were trying to figure out how to make whisky approachable and friendly. The dream behind Swift was educating the staff in both the knowledge of cocktail making and whisky, but also in the language of making whisky accessible, no matter your age, knowledge level or gender. When we were building the back bar, Bobby and I had about 1,300 ‘dream’ whiskies, but we streamlined it down to between 290 and 310 to focus on making them affordable and possible to source.”
Swift has since gone on to become a multi-award winning cocktail bar, most recently winning Bar of the Year at the 2020 Class Bar Awards.
Mia herself has also won a number of awards, such as Imbibe Bar Personality of the Year 2018, and Imbibe Bar Owner of the Year in 2019 with her husband Bobby Hiddleston.
Driven by a vision for more diversity in the bar world, and for women to be stronger leaders within it, Mia has brought a people-focused approach to the industry in both London and New York as a trainer, manager and now bar owner.