20–22 Seventh Avenue South
Disclaimer: This is the perfect example of a New York City bar you and I would hesitate to publicize. Sure, you might recommend it to your closest friends, but you'd stop at that for fear it would become spoiled by crowds, waits, and all that comes along with crowds and waits; much better to hoard it all to yourself. That said, Little Branch, from the same owners of Milk and Honey and East Side Company, is terrific, an unbridled display of good taste and true barkeep know-how. The dark cellar space has the feel of a subdued, civil, stripped-down speakeasy; elaborate drinks being shaken rattle gently in the background. Bowls of chopped fruit and other ready ingredients, like candied ginger and enormous dry olives, rest on the bar alongside glass carafes of freshly squeezed juices. A delicious egg-white-frothed sloe gin fizz ($12) and an old-fashioned (also $12)a mix of 12-year-old bourbon, bitters, sugar, and lemon and orange zestarrived in simple glasses, each cooled with a single, prehistoric- looking, hand-hammered chunk of ice. Strawberry cai-pirinhas ($12) with fresh strawberry chunks are prevalent and tasty. Amiable, knowledgeable staff, too, in that old-fashioned-perfection kind of way that Little Branch has down pat.