While perusing some of my fave blogs today I came across my new solemates: Dave and Ravi of Death&Co in Lower East Side Manhattan. Their overall aesthetic and general attitude is right up my ally–just take a peek at their menu and you’ll see what I mean. They offer a limited selection of crazy-good gourmet bar food and a butterflies-in-my stomach inducing drink selection.
Wondering about the name?
Let me give it to you in their own words:
“To those who shun the night, we tip our hat. To those who shine after dusk, we offer a warm embrace.”
“In 1919 the Volstead Act brought a swift end to nightlife, and the refined craft of the American bartender was outlawed. It was thought that to drink alcohol was to live a life shadowed by death. It was thought by some that these were death and company. It’s taken us nearly a century to restore flavor to the drink and class to specialty cocktails […] To those who shun the night, we tip our hat. To those who shine after dusk, we offer a warm embrace. Welcome to the new golden age. Welcome to Death & Co.”
As you can imagine, these purveyors of life’s simple pleasures have a lot to say about stacking the bottles. Today we bring to you a few of Death&Co’s tips on getting up to no good the proper way:
Lesson 1: Reading is Fundamental
Being a good bartender is more than just making good drinks. You have to do your own studying. The essential library includes:
Lesson 2: The Gear
Here are the basic tools you will need to mix near any drink:
- A shaker set
- A mixing glass
- A bar spoon
- A julep strainer (rounded flat silver with holes)
- A jigger (for measuring)
- A juicer
- A small cutting board
- A pairing knife (to cut fruit)
- A muddler
Lesson 3: The Booze
The two most important spirits to have are Gin (Tom Collins, Martinis, simple fizzes) and Rye (Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Sazerac). These may not be the most popular, but they are the most classic. After that you should have rum, vodka, tequila, and sweet & dry vermouth.
Lesson 4: The Top Ten
You should learn how to make the following 10 classic cocktails which will give you the building blocks for every other drink:
- Old Fashioned
- French 75
- Tom Collins
Lesson 5: Shelf Life
- If it’s 80 proof, it will last. This rule applies to everything other than vermouth, which is a fortified wine and must be refrigerated. Buy the small bottles of vermouth to avoid their turning before use.
- DO NOT CHILL ANY SPIRITS! That business about keeping vodka in the freezer is a mistake. When you are mixing something over ice, you need a certain amount of water dilution to mellow the booze. If the alcohol is already cold the ice won’t dilute the drink enough, and you’ll get a very high alcohol taste in the drink.
“Do not chill any spirits! […] When you are mixing something over ice, you need a certain amount of water dilution to mellow the booze. If the alcohol is already cold the ice won’t dilute the drink enough, and you’ll get a very high alcohol taste in the drink.”
Lesson 6: Ice
Stay away from bagged ice if you can. The best ice is from your home’s ice cube tray: it’s cold and hard and won’t over dilute the drinks.
If you wanna get real fancy, you can get creative with your ice:
- Try pouring water into a muffin tins to make large ice chunks for your Old Fashioned.
- Pouring water into bread pans or baking trays will allow you to chip away and make your own custom ice for each glass you use.
Lesson 7: Freshness Matters
Never use bottled mixers they sell at the store; JUICE YOUR LEMONS AND LIMES! You can buy $4 Margarita mix and drink a glass of garbage or you can be smart and just buy 4 limes for a buck and juice them.
Lesson 8: Garnishes
Fresh mint, orance, lemon twists, and lime wedges are enough for the home bar. If it doesn’t add to the drink then don’t add it. When you cut your twists, make sure you don’t get too much pith, or it will be too bitter.
Lesson 9: Serve It Up
Nice glasses are not the most important thing in the world, but if you want to get it right, you’ll want to have some highballs. It’s also nice to have a set of old fashioned glasses for whiskey boozy drinks. Skip the Martini glass purchase; they are gaudy and spill easily. Rather, let luck come into play and make your own eclectic collection of glasses. Just go to Goodwill or another thrift store as these are the best places to score unique old cocktail glasses.
Let’s get up to no good,