L U C I N D A  S T E R L I N G

April 18, 2019 | Photos: Drew Fung

Lucinda Sterling is one of those awe-inspiring people who leaves you wanting to be her, and her best friend at the same time. A veteran and trailblazer of the cocktail scene, Lucinda’s journey to becoming a cocktail expert, menu consultant, and partner of two successful bars has been far from conventional.

It all started when Lucinda asked cocktail icon, Sasha Petraske, for a job at New York’s famous Milk & Honey. Sasha agreed to hire her as a server despite her not having any formal experience, and with opportunity in hand, Lucinda seized her moment. She worked her way from being a server at Milk & Honey to a bartender and mixologist at Little Branch, and is now Managing Partner of Middle Branch and Seaborne. With a string of accolades and features in The New York Times, Forbes, Architectural Digest, Time Out New York and more, it’s clear that whatever path Lucinda decides to take, she owns.

We had the opportunity to see her in action on a Saturday evening at Middle Branch – experimenting with recipes, testing serving methods, taking inventory, all the while welcoming patrons and personally serving drinks. Her natural warmth and charming hospitality make you want to pull up a stool and chat with her all night, while her unforgettable cocktails have turned Middle Branch and Seaborne into quintessential bars of the New York cocktail scene.

We sat down with Lucinda to learn about her career, balancing being a business owner and mother to adorable daughter Zeta,­­ and how she likes to enjoy Oliverlane.

Biggest influence on your career today:

I was never good at serving, for starters. In high school, I accidentally spilled Moo Goo Gai Pan into a guest’s hair, and I once lit my hair on fire at Little Branch. Sasha Petraske fired me once a week. He made me want to try harder. Not want to, but actually try harder. He is sorely missed, and I owe my career to him.

Something you’re most proud of:

My baby girl. She looks like her father but is smart, charismatic, intelligent, and humble like me.

One thing on your bucket list:

One day, I’d like to re-write a book that I had written when I was ten years old. It would help me revisit my own childhood and have more to share with my daughter.

Favorite ingredient right now:

My favorite ingredient has always been Buddha’s Hand. It’s such a unique shape, is not always available, and reminds me of my mother.

A tip for the novice, at-home mixologist:

Use the freshest and highest quality ingredients. It’s worth the extra money!

Favorite place to have a cocktail:

I would love to have drinks at Leyenda or Clover Club on Smith Street all day long. It’s close to home (but not as close as my own bar, Seaborne, haha).

Favorite music to mix to:

ACDC Shoot To Thrill, or any rock and roll from the 80s.

Favorite way to enjoy Oliverlane:

As a cocktail I created called Dashboard Light. Oliverlane is very complex and subtle at the same time. In its neat state, it has a warm and soft palate. On ice, it throws various tastes and aromas at you. Oliverlane would pair nicely with a wide variety of ingredients. I chose to pair it with a Shochu, which maintains a nice balance and plays well off of its delicate notes.

  • 1.5 oz. Oliverlane
  • .5 oz. Iichiko Shochu
  • .5 oz. St. Agrestis Amaro
  • .25 oz. Giffard Cacao Liqueur

Add ingredients to a whiskey glass. Then add ice, stir for a few seconds to dilute, and chill. Garnish with a lemon twist and serve.

Cheers to you, Lucinda!

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