The original Milk and Honey speakeasy on Eldridge Street in the Lower East Side ushered in the global trend with Prohibition-era style “secret” bars (many of which we rounded up in our guide to New York’s hidden bars). We recently shared a booth with owner Sasha Petraske at the new Milk and Honey location on 23rd Street in the Flatiron, picking his brain while imbibing some of the best drinks in the city.
Like most successful entrepreneurs, Petraske is keeping the competition guessing, completely reversing the original location’s exclusive vibe. He’s pretty much over the reservations-only policy, and the new Milk and Honey (*gasp*) accepts walk-ins. The Eldridge Street location was also small, but this one seats 66. Despite larger capacity though, Petraske isn’t going for the party scene. The original House Rules still apply, like “No name-dropping, no star f-ing,” “No hooting, hollering, shouting or other loud behaviour,” “Do not bring anyone unless you would leave that person alone in your home. You are responsible for the behaviour of your guests,” and “Gentlemen will not introduce themselves to ladies.” The vaulted archways above each booth were added in the last couple weeks in order to dampen the noise in the space, but it also serves to create a more intimate environment for each group.
Despite being one of the first in the speakeasy space, Petraske tips his hat to other bars, like The Experimental Cocktail Club (originally from Paris), comfortable that it’s not the experience he’s going for. They know how to create a party, he told us. For us Untapped New Yorkers, Petraske was a wealth of New York City facts, and most of our conversation centered around city history like organized crime in Hell’s Kitchen.
The original Milk and Honey was notable aesthetically for its nondescript door and little buzzer, and the new one keeps the tradition, absent of any signage. There’s still no menu, and the bartenders create drinks based on your mood, letting you know what ingredients they’re working with today. On one of the first warm days of spring, they had ginger and berries. Petraske is also a stickler for authenticity, proudly showing us real martini glasses (they were round, not pointed!)–and they’re only used in a few bars in the city–those in Petraske’s network.
While there’s no menu, the bartenders do have names for drinks. Check out the Bees Knees, a delicious honey and gin cocktail, and the Queen’s Park Swizzle, a multi-colored rum cocktail. We’ve been to a lot of speakeasy bars, but the drinks from Milk and Honey are still a cut above the rest.
Milk and Honey
30 East 23rd Street
Join us at Saturday’s speakeasy event Prohibition NYC with chefs Adam C. Bank and Rob McCue from Bravo. The location, though still secret, is spectacular. Only 8 tickets left: