Sasha Petraske's 8 rules for drinking decorously

Find out how Milk & Honey's Sasha Petraske changed the bar culture of New York using this list of simple rules
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Sasha Petraske
Sasha Petraske

Sasha Petraske’s bar Milk & Honey changed US cocktail culture, not only by guiding drinkers away from crude and tacky drinks, but also by counseling them against similarly unpolished behaviour.

The late barman and patron had gentlemanly manners, and expected similar behavior from his staff and patrons. He went a far as drawing up a list of eight rules, which he had cast in bronze and mounted on the toilet-stall doors at his bars.

Some of these regulations were simple, neighbourly measures for a small bar within a relatively busy building on New York’s Eldridge St. Other house rules were inspired by George Washington’s 18th century text Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.

The list helped weed out the kind of boorish drinkers who wouldn’t appreciate Petraske’s work in any case, and would certainly ruin the bar’s atmosphere. Yet in some ways, as his widow Georgette Moger Petraske writes in our book Regarding Cocktails, the list “could be read as a compass for consideration of others and self-governing,” Georgette says. “Though Sasha’s beliefs were not from another age - graciousness, modesty, and decorum ought to be common conventions of society no matter the time.” And we can all drink. Here are those rules in full.

1. No name-dropping, no star f*cking.

2. No hooting, hollering, shouting, or other loud behavior.

3. No fighting, no play fighting, no talking about fighting.

4. Gentlemen will remove their hats. Hooks are provided.

5. Gentlemen will not introduce themselves to ladies. Ladies, feel free to start a conversation or ask the bartender to introduce you. If a man you don't know speaks to you, please lift your chin slightly and ignore him.

6. Do not linger outside the front door.

7. Do not bring anyone unless you would leave that person alone in your home. You are responsible for the behaviour of your guests.

8. Exit the bar briskly and silently. People are trying to sleep across the street. Please make all your travel plans and say all farewells before leaving the bar.

Regarding Cocktails

For more sage advice on the fine art of drinking, order a copy of Regarding Cocktails here.


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