One of the nation’s foremost cocktail bars for going on 15 years, award-winning outfit Death & Co—now with locations in LA and Denver along with its original NYC home—has nothing left to prove. But even after two bestselling books, 2014’s Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails and 2018’s Cocktail Codex, the minds behind this tippling titan clearly still have lots more to share. Thus was born Death & Co Welcome Home, an expansive new tome filled with more than 600 new recipes gathered from across the Death & Co tribe, plus tips, strategies, thought-provoking illustrations, and stunning photography. To mark the book’s publication this month, partner and co-author Alex Day gives us the spirited scoop.
With two successful Death & Co books already published, what was the inspiration for a third?
In short, because we had so much more to share. Our first book told the story of Death & Co NYC through its first six years of existence, and Cocktail Codex explored the way we approach teaching and developing cocktails in all of our bars. But a lot has changed at Death & Co since we published the first book—and we’ve since opened two more locations, in Denver and Los Angeles—so there’s much, much more to share about our approach to cocktails and hospitality, not to mention about 1,000 new recipes we’ve created and served at our bars over the past six years (alas, we only had room in our latest book for about half of them).
What inspired you to include mini interviews with Death & Co regulars in the new book?
We ran similar featurettes about our regulars in our first book, and readers really responded to these, so we decided to include more—from all three of our Death & Co locations—in the new book. We think they do a good job showing the wide variety of guests who frequent our bars, and how everyone discovers their own reasons for returning again and again, whether it’s our hospitality, our tremendously gifted and engaging staff, or the drinks themselves. Our guests are why we do what we do.
In a market now flooded with mixology bars, how does Death & Co continue to stand out?
What drives us every day isn’t just making great cocktails; it’s connecting with our guests and giving them a space to share life’s most precious moments. The ability to do so year over year leads us to constantly question how we approach every aspect of the Death & Co experience—the innovation that pushes our cocktails to be more exciting and delicious with each new menu, the evolution of our approach to hospitality, or in our culinary team’s dedication to matching our long history as a cocktail brand. While each of these in themselves may be reason enough for our continued relevance, at the end of the day it’s all about the people that make up the Death & Co team—a group of passionate professionals who find deep satisfaction in making every guest experience special. Death & Co Welcome Home is, ultimately, a celebration of the team that makes Death & Co continue to stand out.
What new ingredient or technique are you loving right now?
While there are always new toys and techniques to play with, I’m more excited about some of the unexpected (and simple!) techniques we write about in Welcome Home. Namely, the Freezer Bar, a simple process of batching together a full cocktail, a little dilution, and then popping the whole thing into the freezer until you need it. What starts as an exercise in convenience can stoke fun, creative, and personalized directions—say, adding a splash of a flavorful liqueur to a martini batch, infusing a whole batched cocktail before freezing, or even using the batch as a base for different types of cocktails when the mood strikes.
Where do you see Death & Co in 5 years?
Five years from now, we see Death & Co ultimately much as it is today—a place where our guests can count on a wonderful time, have exceptional food and drinks, and be served by a thoughtful and engaged team. But the reach of this will, we hope, be even greater by selectively adding new Death & Co’s in cities where our contribution to the local community can be meaningful, as well as expanding one of most important passions—sharing our knowledge with consumers and professionals through new books and other media. And, above all else, we hope to be an even more mindful and nurturing employer to our teams, continuing to attract the best in the business.
What is your drink of choice these days?
As leaves change and the days get darker and a little chillier, my drink of choice gets a bit more contemplative. Bourbon, primarily, and especially a classic Manhattan occupies a steady rotation this time of year, and I always have a batched bottle in my freezer ready to be poured in small (or not so small) pours.