22311653_1f71c08bf3_m.jpgGothamist has a history with Sasha Petraske. We were frustrated with how long it took for us to get into Milk & Honey but, eventually, got the number, got in and were amazed. We were frustrated at how long it took for The East Side Company to open but, eventually, we lost patience and just pushed the heavy door, introducing ourselves when the sawdust cleared and went back for some great parties and painstakingly made drinks since. This month Little Branch joins these spots (and a London branch of Milk & Honey) in Mr. Petraske's burgeoning empire and we think it's a fine addition. Down a flight of stairs at a somewhat precious intersection in the West Village, this is far more accessible than Milk & Honey (no reservations required, no unlisted number required to make reservations), but still more intimate than The East Side Company.

We visited on a recent weeknight and tried several cocktails (okay, nearly the entire cocktail list) made under the watchful eye of accomplished bartender Joseph Schwartz, Mr. Petraske's partner in Little Branch. Our waitress was extremely helpful when our group didn't know what we wanted, explaining their ideas about making cocktails the way they were made when they were created, or, conversely, creating customized drinks with the highest quality flavors and spirits. Cocktails aren't cheap but for $12 each we had an aesthetically perfect drink. The Old Fashioned was poured over a slab of ice big enough to sculpt, with retro swizzle sticks and a perfect taste, the right mouthfeel. Likewise, the Moscow Mule was made with the bar's signature fresh ingredients, including candied ginger, and went down easy. In our candlelit old-school booth, we settled in and heard some great music (including Air songs from The Virgin Suicides). Maybe we looked too settled, because the next thing we knew, there was a plate of flat, crispy Indian bread goodness is in front of us. Our group devoured it with the cilantro pesto and plum sauce and could not think of better, unexpected bar food. Savor a cocktail, enjoy the air conditioning but don't forget the rules, kindly also posted in the bathroom.

Photo courtesy of Maura K. Johnston.

Little Branch
20-22 Seventh Avenue South at Leroy Street
(212) 929-4360