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:
- The Gentleman’s Companion (Volume II) by Charles H. Baker
- The Joy of Mixology: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender’s Craft by Gary Reagan
- The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 Recipes by Dale DeGroff
- Killer Cocktails: An Intoxicating Guide to Sophisticated Drinking by Dave Wondrich
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
- Old Fashioned
- French 75
- Tom Collins
- 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.”
- 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