Death & Co.: Classic Cocktails in a Coffin

Death & Co. Cocktails

The Belly Up at Death & Co.

Last Saturday night included a visit to the well-fortified cocktail lounge, Death & Co., located on 6th Street between Avenue A and First Avenue in 10009.

If you have ever passed by this East Village lounge of classic cocktails, you know what I’m talking about when I say “well-fortified.” It’s not just wood paneling on the facade. It appears to be wood beams layered tightly so as to prevent any sound or beam of light from entering or leaving the intimate wood-paneled interior.

A reason for the soundproofing may have been the excitement around the initial, early 2007 launch of the bar. One of the owners, David Kaplan (his partner is Ravi DeRossi of the Burgious Pig), evidently told Manhattan Community Board 3 it was going to be a restaurant and when they looked inside and found a cocktail bar, “Uh Oh!”, all hell broke loose and the upstairs neighbor just won’t let go. In fact, according to The Observer, they have until April of this year or Grim Reaper may come calling on their liquor license. Good luck.

My cocktail compadre and I were seated in a section for small groups which, even at the early hour of 6:30 p.m., had already filled up with patrons including one very loud set of friends who were going to be our drinking partners for the evening whether I liked it or not. I did not. After 5 minutes of pretending to ignore them, I could take it no longer and we were moved to bar stools in front of the clever Death mural in the back bar area. Much better.

Death & Co. Cocktail

Two Hundred Steps

Ordering from their ample menu of classic cocktails, I chose a drink called “Two Hundred Steps” (about $12, I think) which included bourbon, a fruit juice and bitters. Served on the rocks, the cocktail proved satisfying and warranted another round.

Regarding Death & Co’s interior, East Village ne’er-do-wells will note the wood paneled ceiling is very similar to that of St. Marks Place speakeasy, PDT. Prohibition era establishments evidently inspire such details.

In addition to drinks, we ordered one of Chef Jacques Godin’s cheese plates for $24. Resembling a diminutive aircraft carrier, the plate docked in front of us promptly with assorted cheese, fruit, bread and condiments such as sweet pickles and olives. Other than the pickles and olives which I found to be mundane and easily found on any store shelf, the plate winningly satiated my need to eat and proved to be a good deal for two people. Who said this isn’t a restaurant?

My vote: keep Death in the neighborhood – it has to be one of the most under-control drink (and eating) holes around especially when comparing it to a few nearby dive bars. The only downside is that you may need to wait to get into Death & Co. unless you go early like I did.


March 4th, 2008

Entry Filed under: Drink


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