Dipsology Waxes on Cocktail Balance With The Sasha Petraske Empire


Within the bartending and retro-bar (read: Speakeasy) circles of New York City, one person’s name is uttered more than most as having been the most influential in recent years. That name – the man – is Sasha Petraske. I don’t know a ton about the guy. But, I do know a ton about his venues and reach. I’m a huge fan and infrequent guest. To say he’s had a slight impact on the “haute-imbibery” (which few might describe as douchebaggery  in some cases) would be akin to denoting Danny Meyer – and his Union Square Hospitality Group – has had a “small role” in shaping the downtown NYC dining scene. Rather, these folks are 10,000 pound, gargantuan elephants in Hospitality in terms of influence.

Senor Petraske (that’s him below)  is the proprietor of, or responsible for, several of the most successful and storied throwback cocktail emporiums of the last 5 or 10 years – in this town at least. I’m referring specifically to Little Branch, Middle Branch and Milk and Honey – all of which elicit instant [positive] anxiety, the kind of mouth wetting frenzy whipped up when you’re sauced, haven’t eaten for 12 hours, and spot a Taco Truck.

Diposology recently had a sit-down with Middle Branch Managing Partner, Lucinda Sterling, to talk cocktail balance. What came out of that conversation – what they’ve published – is a pure gem; a must read for bartenders/mixologists hoping to up their game (that should apply to all bartenders). 

“As cocktail patrons, we’ve heard this one often enough: someone comes into a bar and asks for something that’s “not too sweet.”  But usually, what they actually mean is that they want something balanced.

The concept of sweetness in cocktails has evolved over the years with the advent of refrigeration and modern transportation systems. In the old days sugar & sweetness were a result of ingredients being preserved so they would last longer on the shelf, and cocktails evolved in part as a result of the availability of ingredients.”

Misconceptions about the relationship between seemingly “sweet” and potent cocktails have existed for years. This is particularly visible at bars which focus on details other than “mixology,” and whose bar staff deals primarily in volume or is comprised mostly of eye candy. The overwhelming majority of bar guests I’ve run into over the years think they know, but really have no clue what a “dry” drink really means.

So head on over to Dipsology for the entire educational read. Better yet, mosey on over the delightful Midtown Middle Branch to sample their plentiful, well-balanced, and original goodies. While you’re at it, get your learn on by (a) studying their environment for what makes them successful and (b) politely picking the brains of their obsessive bar staff.

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