Backstage

  • Lucinda Sterling
  • Little Branch, a Sasha Petraske establishment
  • 'We’ve managed to [develop our own] style of making and serving drinks, both original and from the Prohibition era,' says Lucinda.
  • A Santiago Daisy
  • Lucinda explains: 'It has a light rum, fresh lime, simple syrup and a yellow chartreuse float, and it’s served over cracked ice in a wine glass with a sprig of mint.'
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Little Branch

Welcome to Little Branch, a neo-speakeasy in New York’s West Village and one of Sasha Petraske’s formidable drinking establishments. As guests descend the stairs, they drift back in time...into a cozy lounge, lit mostly by candlelight, with the sounds of live soft jazz streaming through the room. Little Branch’s minimal decor, bare cement floors and tin ceiling suggest a Prohibition-era watering hole - yet there’s a simplistic elegance and a warm and sexy atmosphere within.

We found Lucinda Sterling behind the bar and took a moment to find out her secrets for a great cocktail - and what drink she’d mix Oribe if he stopped in.


Of all the fine drinking establishments in New York, what makes Little Branch stand out?


Our hand-cut ice, adherence to classic recipes and tradition, and our methods of incorporating the best alcohol through our knowledge of spirits. This brings great consistency to our guests. We’ve managed to [develop our own] style of making and serving drinks, both original and from the Prohibition era.

What makes a really good cocktail?


A great balance. By adding water, modifiers (such as sugar), spirits with natural flavor, and fresh juices, a cocktail can be deceptively strong because the presence of alcohol is masked by the freshness. Spirit-forward cocktails should be balanced by adding water and/or sugar, a modifier like honey, or a sweet spirit such as vermouth, unless otherwise specified by the customer.

Based on Oribe’s signature style, what drink would you create for him?


A Santiago Daisy. It has a light rum, fresh lime, simple syrup and a yellow chartreuse float, and it’s served over cracked ice in a wine glass with a sprig of mint.

How could we make a Santiago Daisy?


2 oz. light rum
½ oz. yellow Chartreuse
1 oz. fresh lemon and lime juices
1 tbsp. simple syrup
Splash of soda
1 sprig of fresh mint

Shake all ingredients except Chartreuse together gently, and pour over large hand-cracked ice in a wine glass. Add a float of yellow chartreuse and a sprig of fresh mint. Serve with flair.

What would be a great drink to serve to clients on a Sunday afternoon in a salon?


I think that a lot of people like energizing or healthful drinks. I’d recommend a London Buck, which is made with gin, fresh lime and ginger, and topped with soda. Or perhaps a Pomegranate Daiquiri, which is made with pomegranate, grenadine, fresh lime and a light rum (vodka or gin can also be substituted).

What’s your hair routine?


I usually wash it every day or every other day.

Credits:


Photography by Tamara Gallegos (Lucinda) and Carmen Lopez (Little Branch).

- MEGHAN TARMEY
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