After two days of hoofing up and down Manhattan's west side on a quest for an apartment, having submitted an application for a perfect spot and nothing left to do but cross my fingers**, I needed a drink. Though nothing was clear about where I'd soon live, I knew exactly where to drink, thanks to a recommendation from Damian at LA's Seven Grand. He told me to check out Little Branch, so I did.
This subterranean bar, a sister to the reservation-only Milk and Honey, takes cocktails very seriously. The mixers and garnishes are as top shelf and artisanal as the liquor, and the talented bartenders know more drinks and tricks than your Mr. Boston ever dreamed of. The light are low, music's jazzy, and the booths require a bit of a wait on a Friday night. I snagged a corner step in the no-stool bar area, but many folks just leaned against the pressed tin bar.
There's a seasonal cocktail menu (all clocking in at $12) or you can ask for the bartender's choice. I explained my love of bourbon, and the bartender suggested a left-hand (or left-handed, my memory's fuzzy). Being a southpaw myself, I was intrigued as he described the "love child between a Negroni and a Manhattan." Basically--sweet vermouth, Campari, bourbon and bitters. He stirred it over ice, then strained it into a champagne coupe. Like a Negroni, it was the reverse of a mullet--party in the front (sweet), and business in the back (mild bitter aftertaste), with a stronger punch due to the bourbon. After a few sips, my apartment worries, while not erased, certainly seemed less important.
Little Branch (cash only)
20 Seventh Ave. South
New York, NY 10011
at Leroy St.
7 PM-3 AM
**Obviously, this time-honored technique works, as we signed the lease yesterday for a lovely one-bedroom near 96th and Broadway. No broker's fee!! Boo-yah.