August 21, 2015. I'm sure most of you have heard of the untimely death today of Sasha Petraske, founder of Milk and Honey in the Lower East Side and eventually London, The Varnish in Los Angeles, Dutch Kills on Long Island, and a few other important bars around the world.
Though I never got to meet the man, or even, I’m ashamed to say, drink in one of his bars, I feel a great deal of sadness at his passing. Sasha was one of the earliest adopters of modern craft cocktails in this country, and we all owe him a debt. He advocated for so many things that drinkers around the world take for granted: good ice, attention to detail, measuring pours, and professional demeanor as a standard for bartenders.
When Milk and Honey opened, no one else was doing what he did. The entrance was hidden to the public. He did no advertising. There was a code of conduct, mainly for gentlemen. He enforced the dictates of polite society and a time long gone by on a crowd of people more used to Alabama Slammers as the pinnacle of the drinking experience - yes, Dale DeGroff has a contemporary recipe in The Craft of the Cocktail.
Sasha was just married a few months ago to Georgette Moger. He had moved to Hudson, New York to work as a consultant. If you’re out tonight, or feel like a cocktail at home, please join me in raising a glass to Sasha Petraske.