For your consideration this evening, as an example of how seriously New Yorkers consider each drop before allowing it to pass their lips, I offer two recent trips to a fantastic new cocktail bar named (for the Dashiell Hammet novella) Death and Company.
Tucked on an otherwise residential block in the East Village, it's the latest outpost of New York's burgeoning cocktail culture, a place where the drinks are as well thought-out as a meal at one of the city's better restaurants.
The room is dark, the ceiling low, the bar a slab of white marble cutting through the kerosene-lit gloom. Modern-baroque chandeliers hang suspended over two round booths on either side of the door, the windows behind them shuttered to preserve the speakeasy feel.
The drinks are as glamorous and languor-inducing as the decor; in two visits last week, I managed to sample eight different drinks, each creative, most delicious. My favorite of all was the Fancy Free, a rye whiskey drink with maraschino liqueur, Angostura and orange bitters, served on the rocks and topped off with an orange peel squeezed to release its essential oils and flamed with a match to caramelize its sugars.
Alerted as I was to D&Co's existence by the online culinary society eGullet (full disclosure: I am a volunteer staff member), I would be remiss if I didn't point you to their ongoing discussion of the bar. I'll leave you to peruse their reactions to the buzz and the B&T clientele it's generated while I head to the kitchen to recreate the Fancy Free.
DEATH AND COMPANY
433 E. 6th Street
Between 1st Avenue and Avenue A