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Death & Co.

Death & Co. was the third stop on my speakeasy crawl—after Please Don’t Tell and Angel’s Share. As I write this, I see that their website is blocked at work, which is hilarious, given that there are dozens of other bars with websites that I can get to easily.

There’s no hidden door to get into Death & Co. The street entrance is in plain sight, but it’s a barely-marked wooden door with the name of the establishment written in such small print that you could easily miss it.

Like the other speakeasies, standees aren’t allowed, so you have to wait until a seat is available. The host is outside, so you don’t even get to look at the place until he lets you in. It was about 9:00 p.m., which is pretty early for a Friday night in the East Village; even so, I waited about five minutes, but I was alone. For couples, the host had a long waiting list.

The dark photo (above) is no exaggeration: there isn’t a lot of light. Like a casino, there are no open windows, and you could easily lose track of time. But I hadn’t lost track of my cocktail count, and I decided to have just one.

The cocktail menu is in categories organized by the main ingredient (gin, rum, tequila, brandy, etc.). They are every bit as inventive, and as well made, as at Please Don’t Tell. I settled on the Black Magic ($13; cognac, angostura, 5-year rum, white crème de menthe, fernet branca, and absinthe).

The food here is compelling, with a selection of bar snacks (most under $15) that go beyond the obvious—for a cocktail bar. I had an order of really well made barbecued pulled-pork sliders ($12): three plump helpings of pork on toasted mini-buns, and potato salad too. Most nights, that could be dinner for me.

I’m not quite sure when I’ll make it back—the line to get in is rather daunting (to me)—but I was impressed here.

Death & Co. (433 E. 6th Street between First Avenue & Avenue A, East Village)

Reader Comments (2)

We did a similar tour of some speakeasy-type lounges in May. I can't remember a time when I've been carded in NYC (I'm 41) but the door host at Death & Co. asked for ID -- this was maybe around midnight on a Thursday. Then there was this whole production getting us seated, including the host informing us that the people standing next to the bar weren't allowed to be standing there. We finally got seated at a counter rail (which was absolutely fine with us -- please consider this post an amusing [to me] anecdote and not a complaint by any means), and when the dust had settled, there were clearly plenty of open spots and all the fuss over getting us in seemed a bit overwrought. I later speculated that the ID check was not for verifying our ages but our address, in order to determine where we deserved to sit.

The bartender that night was extremely helpful in recommending similar lounges to check out. When all was said and done, we hit PDT, Raines Law Room, and Hotel Delmano in Williamsburg, and I thought Delmano and PDT had the best cocktails. Incidentally, I'm from Portland, OR, and while we have some nationally renowned craft cocktail lounges here, the faux speakeasy concept has not (perhaps thankfully) been tried here (as I doubt it would go over well). Though there's no denying the fun that is to be had making that first visit to PDT.

August 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjeff_pdx

Thanks for steering us to this place.

August 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSoma Sengupta

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