Cocktails: Death and Company New York

Since David Kaplan and Ravi DeRossi opened Death + Company in 2007, it has been one of the top cocktail bars not just in New York but internationally. Named in honor of the people known as Death and Company who drank alcohol during Prohibition and were thought to “live a life shadowed by death,” I was finally able to visit this famous bar in the East Village during a trip to NY.

Arriving around 7pm on a Saturday night, there was already a line in front of the nondescript doors.  Reservations are not accepted and the policy is “first come, first served” as there is no standing-room inside the bar. The doorman was taking names and numbers and sending people to neighboring bars for drinks while they waited for a seat.  I patiently waited, hoping a single seat would open up, and it did after a 20 minute wait.

I entered the cozy, dark space with plush banquettes and black-granite tables, lit by crystal chandeliers.  It took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust and I apologize in advance if the photos are a little dark.  The menu offers a selection of cocktails, listed by spirit and then by shaken versus stirred.  There are also whimsical quotes scattered throughout the menu which add to the enjoyment of perusing it (and I will share some of my favorites).

“All of the things I really like are either immoral, illegal, or fattening.” Alexander Woollcott

While my intention was to enjoy one or two cocktails, once Bar Manager Jillian Vose and bartender Tyson began making my drinks, I proceeded lock myself down for the night and run through almost every category.

“Drinking makes uninteresting people matter less and late at night, matter not at all.” Lillian Hellman

Drink #1: Sunset Gun
Made with New York Distilling Co. Dorothy Parker Gin, fresh lime juice, orgeat, velvet falernum, kaffir lime leave, this refreshing, tart cocktail was the perfect drink to wake up the palate.

Drink #2: Pinche Chivo
Made with Cabrito Blanco Tequila, fresh lime juice, sage-infused Dolin Blanc, house-made acacia honey syrup, muddled cucumber, this cocktail was also refreshing (the cucumber is the first thing you smell) and tart with herbal notes.

“I drink exactly as much as I want and one drink more.” H.L. Mencken 

Drink #3: Lin Baba Daiquiri
Made with Scarlet Ibis, Appleton V/X, lime juice, cinnamon bark, ginger syrup, orgeat, green curry leaves, this twist on a classic daiquiri balances the citrus and spice.

Drink #4: Jane Rose
Made with Lairds Bonded Apple Brandy, fresh lemon juice, Toby’s lime cordial, house-made grenadine, Champagne, this twist on a classic Jack Rose adds Champagne for a little sparkle on the finish. It is a balanced drink in which the assertive, but not over-powering brandy, is balanced by the citrus and grenadine.

Drink #5: Deadpan Fix
Made with Rittenhouse 100 Rye Whiskey, fresh grapefruit juice, fresh lemon juice, Grand Marnier, Campari, housemade ginger syrup, orange twist. My memory how this cocktail tasted is not as clear as it was the 5th cocktail of the night. But, as I drank it all, I know I liked it.

“I’m tired of gin. I’m tired of sin. And after last night, Oh boy, am I tired.” Anonymous

I probably didn’t need to drink five cocktails that night, as the slight headache the next morning reminded me. But there were just so many to chose from that I had to limit myself to choosing just five. Next trip to NY, I will be back for more!

“You’re not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on.” Dean Martin

Death + Company
433 East 6th Street
Manhattan, NY 10009
(212) 388-0882