Influential New York bartender Sasha Petraske was found dead at his home in Hudson, NY, on Aug. 21. The cause of and time of death was not yet known.
Petraske, 42, opened the 20-seat craft/classic cocktail lounge Milk & Honey on New York’s Lower East Side in late 1999. The spot, named one of the top-10 bar/restaurant concepts of the past 25 years by Cheers last year, was a leader of the craft cocktail movement and a champion of pre-Prohibition drink recipes.
The small bar had no sign, no phone and no menu, and required a reservation to get in; there was also an extensive list of house rules for behavior that guests had to abide by. Bartenders lavished attention on the cocktails, and paid great attention to detail and service.
As New York Times spirits writer Robert Simonson pointed out, “Petraske’s role in the modern cocktail revival is difficult to overestimate.” In addition to a London outpost of Milk & Honey, which opened in 2002, Petraske was behind New York bars White Star, Little Branch and Dutch Kills.
He had moved the original Milk & Honey (now the home of Attaboy) uptown to a larger space in 2013, but closed in late 2014 due to lease issues. Petraske was said to be in the process of reopening in another location in New York, and was also planning a Brooklyn bar.
Petraske, who also helped start the San Antonio Cocktail Conference in 2012, and appeared in the 2013 documentary Hey Bartender, consulted on and had a hand in a number of other bars. He is survived by his wife, journalist Georgette Moger, whom he married this past May.