A twist on the ur-cocktail, courtesy of partner Joseph Schwartz. The drink begins with Zacapa aged rum as the base spirit, then builds with Velvet Falernum, cane syrup, and a dash of Angostura bitters. At Middle Branch, the drink is stirred with one large ice cube, made in a custom mold to ensure consistency. "We're totally like McDonald's in that regard," says partner Lucinda Lynn Sterling, laughing.
Sterling developed this drink to showcase one of her new favorite products, Lillet Rosé. "Lillet is an ancient French aperitif, but their rosé has only been on the market for six months," she says. "It's made with macerated stone fruits, though of course they won't tell us which ones." Here, Sterling combines it with cane syrup, lemon juice, bonded Applejack, and Peychaud bitters over a heap of crushed ice.
Queen's Park Swizzle
Developed at the Trinidad Hotel, the Queen's Park Swizzle is a bright, summery cocktail with a rich tropical undertone. The Middle Branch version features Santa Teresa Claro rum, fresh muddled mint, a white sugar cube, simple syrup, Angostura bitters, and a real-deal swizzle stick.
"It's all about the beautiful foam," Sterling says, cracking an egg for this South American classic. She shakes the egg white with Pisco Porton, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, then tops the cocktail with a stripe of Angostura bitters.
Lucinda Lynn Sterling, Middle Branch partner
Now a partner with Sasha Petraske, Sterling got her very first bartending job at Little Branch in 2006. "I've never had to unlearn anything," she said. "It's very lucky."