The Blog

The Giant's Shoulders: Sasha Petraske 1973 - 2015

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

If there's a special corner in heaven for pioneers, then room was made this weekend for an immaculately dressed new arrival. If you've enjoyed a cocktail in recent years; one tastefully thought out and meticulously garnished, then you've felt the distant edges of this man's reach. That drink might seem obvious now, but it wasn't always that way.

The world cocktail scene in the late nineties was a bleak thing - a lot of noise, but little substance, gimmick was king, and the classic cocktail had beaten a hasty retreat to ancient hotel bars and a few other under-appreciated bastions. Then in 1999 Sasha Petraske opened Milk and Honey's hard to find and perpetually unadvertised door on the Lower East Side, a catalyst, perhaps even the catalyst for a cocktail revival that thankfully shows no signs of stopping.

It was not exactly new, though certainly felt like it at the time; at once achingly familiar, yet cutting edge. Quality was everything; the staff were professional and the ingredients fresh - it did not serve cranberry, if they could not juice it themselves to guarantee quality then what use was it? All served with house rules of decorum that were as amusing as they were original, and an often bizarre, but certainly strict entry policy. His legacy is that these signature touches have become de rigueur around the globe now, and helped us forget that they were counter culture long before they became a requirement.

Possibly the best thing you can hope for is to leave the world a better place than you found it. Sasha Petraske did it one drink at a time, or as one brand ambassador put it: Goodbye Sasha, the world drinks better tonight because of you.