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Lucinda Sterling on Transcontinental Bartending, Scrutiny Behind The Bar, and The Next Prohibition

Lucinda Sterling
Lucinda Sterling
Photo: Facebook

Rockstar bartender Lucinda Sterling is a duel citizen of New York and Boulder's cocktail cultures. By weekend at Middle Branch in New York where she's a partner, by week at OAK at fourteenth in Boulder, this transcontinental rockstar is also getting two degrees right now at the University of Colorado, and contemplating starting another business venture in Colorado.

How did you end up in Colorado? I started here. I went to elementary school, high school, and college in Boulder; I have family here. I'm getting two degrees in business information systems and psychology, and I have one calculus class left. I've been going to CU Boulder forever— there's a pride factor [in taking the one last class here] for me.

How did you get your start in bartending? At Milk & Honey in New York. I was a newbie with no bartending experience. I went on to Little Branch, and became a partner at Middle Branch in 2012.

So you bartend on Wednesday evenings at OAK. What does the rest of your week look like? I commute to and from New York every week. I am in Boulder Tuesday through Thursday, and I am in New York working at Middle Branch the other days.

Give us the skinny on OAK vs. Middle Branch. They each have their own specific ice programs, and measurements of drinks. New York's scene is a lot more underground, whereas Boulder's is more transparent. Either way, there's a lot of scrutiny, and bartenders are held to a high standard.

How about New York vs. Boulder? I would say Boulder has a much more food-centric clientele, while in New York people often just want to do drinking. They are interested in the drinks. Boulder, and Denver too, have different subcultures for drinking. In any bigger city, [New York or Denver] you're going to get more interest in drinking, instead of eating with drinking.

When you finish calculus, will you head back to New York? Not necessarily. There might be a possible business opportunity in Boulder or Denver. I'm getting a grasp on this new open market, and it seems easy to create a niche here. There is so much growth in Colorado, so many new business, and bars. Before we know it it'll be the next Prohibition. One day government shutdown, the next day: who knows?

· Lucinda Sterling at OAK For The Semester; Stephen Gallic Joins Williams & Graham [EDen]
· The Cocktail Heatmap: A Guide to Where to Drink Now [EDen]
· Cocktail Week 2013 [EDen]


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