When word spread on Friday of Milk & Honey co-founder, Sasha Petraske’s sudden death at the age of 42, it was the consensus of the culinary and mixology community that we had lost a monumental figure in cocktail history.As of yet, the cause of death has been undetermined. During his lifetime, Petraske led a small empire of bars that focused on cocktail making as an art, with Milk & Honey as his flagship.
Although bars that serve pre-Prohibition cocktails with hidden entrances and speakeasy nods are commonplace in New York these days, the trend began in earnest with Petraske’s Milk & Honey, which opened its New York location in 1999 and shuttered in 2014 after landlord issues. Petraske has been described as the leader of the cocktail revival movement during the turn of the 21st century, and Milk & Honey became a phenomenon. His other bars included Little Branch in Greenwich Village; Dutch Kills in Long Island City, Queens; Middle Branch in Midtown Manhattan; and The Varnish in Los Angeles.
“When it comes down to it, the Milk & Honey way is not an intellectual way of drinking [or]talking about cocktails,” Petraske told The New York Times in an earlier interview. “That’s just silly. It has its place. It can be thrilling to catch bits of inside baseball. But it’s nothing that needs to be talked about. Cocktails are to be experienced.”
Touching tributes to Petraske popped up all over Twitter this weekend.
In shock. Sasha helped invent modern cocktail culture, when it was still a counter-culture. https://t.co/WkeLrcOkqe
— Pete Wells (@pete_wells) August 21, 2015
Ah man....so young. RIP Sasha Petraske. Many a great memory at his great Nyc bars. Raise a glass.
— josh groban (@joshgroban) August 21, 2015
Very sad news. Raise a glass this weekend to Sasha Petraske, a true New York pioneer: http://t.co/70t1LtiCcR
— Jeff Gordinier (@JeffGordinier) August 21, 2015
I only met Sasha Petraske a few times, but I sure as hell had the pleasure of enjoying his vast influence on bar culture. Such sad news.
— Kat Kinsman (@kittenwithawhip) August 21, 2015