Little Branch

August 10th, 2008

If you asked most people in the know to list their top five bars in the world, Milk and Honey in New York would likely feature, probably near the top end of the list. The only problem is Milk and Honey operates a strict reservations only policy, and the reservations number isn’t listed. Thankfully, if you don’t know the number or find Milk and Honey busy the night you want to visit, there is an alternative option. Little Branch, in the West Village, is ran by the owners of MNH and offers the same dedication to cocktails in a larger, less exclusive venue. Though you still have to work hard to spot where it is.

PDT

Located on the corner of 7th and Leroy, the corner entrance of Little Branch is very easy to miss. So easy, infact, I managed to walk to Christopher Street before I realised I had perhaps walked a little too far north. After eventually finding the entrance, and walking down a flight of stairs, I was greeted by a small bar beautifully decorated with pressed tin, and a series of booths varying from two seaters to larger group tables. The room was dark, the crowd was politely lively, and jazz was playing in the background.

Lacking seats at the bar, I was given a small two seat booth and proceeded to order my first drink, the Barnum (Was Right). Essentially a play on the Pegu Club, the drink consisted of gin, créme de apricot, lemon juice and bitters. The apricot flavour was subtle but interesting, with a definite aromatic hint, and the further aromatics from the bitters integrated well with the gin producing a very balanced drink. Not exactly groundbreaking, but definitely a very well made and enjoyable cocktail.

The cocktail menu at Little Branch is fairly short, and with nothing really grabbing my interest I instead decided to request something of the bartenders choice. The waitress returned with a Turnpike – a mixture of rye, applejack and lemon plus, I suspect, other ingredients I didn’t make note off. The rye and applejack played together really nicely, created a rich, deep flavour that was tempered nicely by the lemon. The tart undertone remained fairly subtle, but nonetheless did its job perfectly. Another great drink.

With more haunts on my list for the night, and a rapidly filling bar in which I felt bad for taking up a double booth with just myself, I moved on at two drinks. The lack of seating at the bar was a disappointment for me as I enjoy watching the bartenders ply their trade, but with the quality of the drinks being put out I can forgive such a minor quibble – indeed the layout for anyone but loners is perfect. Little Branch just makes me want to visit Milk and Honey even more, and comes highly recommended. Just make sure you get there early if you don’t want a wait. It was already filling up when I left, relatively early on in the night.

Little Branch is located at 20 7th Avenue South at Leroy St. Open 7pm to 3am (Monday to Saturday).
Tel: +1 212 929 4360
Web: www.littlebranch.net

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Photography by Jay Hepburn
Artwork by Craig Mrusek

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