Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Death & Co. Review or Clipboards & Cocktails, Oh my!

 Some time ago I was hired to write a review about Death & Co. This version of my review was never published so....

Death & Co. 433 East 6th Street New York, NY 10009 (212) 388-0882 
(East Village)

When you are standing at the threshold of Death & Co. you will notice something that most cocktail bars don’t have, a gatekeeper. This man’s job is not to demolish people. He is NOT a Ray Lewis clone dressed in black and carrying a chip on his shoulder. This man’s job is to make sure you enjoy your evening in a stress-free environment. Once he lets in you’ll realize that the gatekeeper’s clipboard was set to ‘comfortable and cozy’ not ‘crowded and noisy’. And if that means taking your cell phone number and calling you once space is available - than that is what happens. This isn’t Fort Knox or Studio 54…they know that. This is Death & Co. and they want you to have a great time in an intimate setting.

Brian Miller is one of the principles behind Death & Co. He’s an imposing six foot tall gentleman bartender. Brain possesses a rare quality for someone in the spirits industry. He has no ego; he’s not in it for the money, glory or the fame. He is in it to make quality drinks for everyone in a setting that would make Etta James feel at home.

One of the curious dissimilarities you’ll discover at Death & Co. is their cocktail menu. It’s broken down by the major spirits (Gin, Rum, Tequila and Whiskey) but from there it is divided by shaken versus stirred drinks. The difference being, cocktails with juices (liqueurs, dairy or simple syrup) are shaken to open up the flavor profiles of the heavier ingredients with the help of straining and effervescence. Stirred cocktails are about the mild mix of items to reduce dilution while maintaining each items essence. Of course I have a favorite from each category.
Slap n’ Pickle ($13) 
Shaken- Not Stirred
Krogstad Aquavit
Muddled Cucumber
Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
House made Grenadine
Cucumber Wedge

Cure For Pain ($13)
Stirred- Not shaken
Rittenhouse Bonded Rye Whiskey
Carpano Antica Vermouth
George T. Stagg Bourbon,
Otima10yr Tawny Port
White Crème De Cacao,
Orange Twist

If you consider Death & Co. is a speakeasy, think again. If it were the name would not be printed on the sidewalk. Its location would be a whisper, lost in rumor and better hidden than the island on LOST. At its heart Death & Co. is a romantic two fold tribute to a time when hard working Americans were NOT allowed to exercise their God given right to have a good drink. Co-owner, Dave Kaplan, got the name from a short story written by Dashiell Hammett. Hammett also wrote a little thing called ‘The Maltese Falcon’.  The other part of the tribute comes from a group of Prohibition era artists called Death & Company. They painted signs in support of Prohibition but if you read the signs correctly there was a hidden map within the picture that would show you how to get to a speakeasy and have a drink. Basically, it was a quick response (or QR) code for drinkers.

Beyond the literary and historic tributes, Death & Co. is about perfectly constructed cocktails for you and your date in a setting that looks back to the days when a man stood up when a lady entered a room. Death & Co. is NOT about ‘getting your drink on’ or how many shots you can do. It is a cocktail bar where the classics are shown respect and rudeness the door.

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