Lucinda Sterling began her journey into bartending by packing up her SUV in Denver and embarking on a cross-country road trip to the East Coast. A New York City pit stop became a permanent residence, and more than ten years later, Lucinda still calls Manhattan home.
With no bartending experience at all, Lucinda found a road into the industry by becoming a regular at New York’s famed Milk & Honey cocktail bar in 2005, where she was introduced to owner and industry icon, the late Sasha Petraske, who hired her as a server. But more importantly, Petraske would become Lucinda’s mentor, instructor, and eventually, her business partner.
Her first opportunity to do so came at Petraske’s second Manhattan venue, Little Branch, where she flourished as a mixologist. In 2012, she become a full managing partner in Petraske’s third bar, Middle Branch, where she helped to design the space and where she continues to run day-to-day operations.
The latest addition to the extended family of bars is Seaborne in Brooklyn, a cocktail lounge opened at at 228 Van Brunt Street in Redhook in 2016. Similar to its sister bars, the emphasis is on the classic recipes for cocktails that emerged before Prohibition and shortly thereafter. Also available are slight twists on the classics, beer, wine, and light snacks.
With a degree in psychology and business, Lucinda is clearly a unique member of the mixology and bartending profession. Her diverse ethnic mix of German, Irish, Polish, French, Chinese and Cambodian also makes for an interesting infusion of cultural influences in her cocktails and her venues. As a consulting mixologist, created a spirit-forward cocktail menu for newly opened Garfunkel’s in New York City.
Lucinda was a Finalist in the 2013 Peter F Heering Sling Awards, while the lifestyle web site Thrillist recently named her one of the “14 Female Bartenders You Need to Know in NYC.” She is widely considered a leader in the female mixologist movement, which was recognized in 2013 when she was asked to contribute to the cocktail menu at New York’s Grace 365—a menu that consisted entirely of drinks made by women. Her voice and her influence in the industry, however, reach well beyond any such boundaries.