The cocktail bar Death & Co is well suited to the oddball charm of the Arts District with its crooked streets, mysterious unmarked buildings, and sidewalks pulsing with evening energy. Past the doorman, going down the stairs, through the black velvet curtain into the darkness of Death & Co is a flashback to past nights dancing and making out in illegal basement clubs. LA’s outpost of NYC’s original Death & Co is nearly a carbon copy of the famous Lower East Side cocktail bar—the same dim lighting, a mix of hipsters, blowouts and It purses for the ladies and finance guys, as well as the justly renowned cocktails.
Once you’re seated in a comfortable booth or at a two-top along the wall, the servers approach, waiting patiently for you to adjust to the dim. But this isn’t dark by accident. The lack of light is calibrated to create mystery. You’ll have to use your phone light to read the cocktail menu encased in a substantial leather folder. The drinks are divided into five sections, starting with the lightest choices, and moving into more serious booze-based libations. Its cleverly written descriptions are a lure to try something new.
We choose Space Oddity ($19) from the Elegant and Timeless section. Made with Ford’s gin, fino sherry and smoked sunchokes, and finished with yellow chartreuse. It delighted my drinking pal, who called it “easy sipping.” He moved on to Clandestino ($21) with El Tesoro Reposado Tequila, basil eau de vie, finished with green chartreuse and orange bitters. That one he really loved for the tequila taste enhanced with bitters. The cocktail names are as intriguing as the ingredients: False Prophet ($19); Cloak & Dagger ($20); Kintoki ($18).
The wine list isn’t long but it’s well chosen. The beer selection has enough to satisfy even picky imbibers, but Death & Co excels in their collection of premium alcohol, including whiskey, bourbon, rum, tequila, cognac, and brandy. They’ve added a civilizing touch by accepting reservations. The menu served throughout the night is a bit of a surprise if you’re expecting pretzels and beer nuts.
We shared the Chips & Dip ($12) made from crème fraiche and onion jam, which we scooped up with potato chips—so much better than a packaged dip. The Wagyu Steak ($48) is usually not my top choice, but it was a superb cut, seasoned with shitake butter and thyme. Add the Crispy Potatoes roasted with cheddar and rosemary ($18) to the steak, and you have a meal that will save you from ending up face-down in a plate of fries at two a.m. Don’t pass up the Chilled Mussels ($21) with Calabrian chile, Oloroso sherry and thyme. The spices play well with the chubby mussels, making for a zippy taste. It’s apparent a talented chef is running the kitchen; unusual in a cocktail lounge.
Intended for sophisticated evenings with a soupçon of sex appeal, Death & Co may be the cocktail destination you’ve been looking for.
Death & Co
818 E. 3d
Sunday – Wednesday 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Thursday – Saturday 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
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