Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Manhattan, Lower East Side Speakeasy: Death & Company

Continuing our series on modern day speakeasies, today's feature is about a little place called Death & Company. This smart little bar is tucked away in a corner of Manhattan's East Village. 

In 1919, temperance became popular and Prohibition made it illegal to serve alcohol.  Drinking was compared by those who favored temperance to 'live a life shadowed by death'. This is where Death & Company takes it's name. 

I recently visited this little establishment with friend and mystery writer, Cathi Stoler, author of the wonderful book, Telling Lies (How many lies does it take to get away with murder?). I always think it best to visit bars with the word death in the name with a mystery writer or two.  Don't you?

Both Cathi and I had a drink called the, Run for the Roses, which contained "Rose peddle-nfused" Lillet Rose, Kirsch Brandy (I usually put this in cheese fondue), Knappogue Irish Whiskey and Champagne.  The only thing I could taste in the first version was the Irish Whiskey. I asked for them to leave out the whiskey on the second round, but was told they can't alter the drinks because they won't taste right. While I prefer to have my drinks the way I like them, rather than the way someone else likes them, the second round was quite good when they went lighter on the whiskey, and they did go lighter on the whiskey. 

There were many appetizer type food offerings and the nibbles here were tasty. We had truffle oil soaked fries and mushroom tarts (really sautéed mushrooms in puff pastry). The mushroom tarts were my favorite. 

Death + Company can be found at 433 E. 6th Street on 6th between 1st Avenue and Avenue A.  The door is well marked. There was a greeter outside the night we went. The bar opened at 6:00pm that night but they weren't ready exactly at 6:00 pm and we had to wait for about five minutes. Death + Company was standing room only by the time we left at 8:00ish. If you go later, expect a line. We didn't need a password to get in.

What Are Speakeasies?

Speakeasies were essentially secret bars that sprang up when the United States outlawed alcohol in 1919. 

Most speakeasies were housed in unmarked locations, many required a password to get in and some may have even moved from place to place to stay ahead of the law. Many think the name came from patrons being told to "speakeasy" or to lower their voices so no one suspected they were serving alcohol. 

Today, there are many modern speakeasies that retain some of these traditions. Usually they feature fresh ingredients in their food and drink, and though the secrecy is no longer needed, many are in discreet locations that lack signage. Some even require passwords.

You can read about Mystery Playground's other speakeasy adventures here

1 comment:

  1. Had such a good time going there with you Deb! Definitely have to do it again.