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Death & Co

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433 East 6th Street, New York

We love a dirty dive bar, fiercely filthy hangouts with cheap whiskey, chasing tins of cheap beer, and New York’s plethora of grimy possibilities is commendable. But once you’ve tickled, kissed and massaged the underbelly, and the Big Apple has given you a crisp slap in the face, spat a pip in your eye and harangued you into a dark hotel room, it’s always nice to find refuge in a den of discerning drinking. Death & Co is certainly that – a spot for sincere sipping that draws you away from Manhattan’s mayhem and reminds us all we should drink less, but drink better.

The bar is for serious booze hounds, those who enjoy learning more about what they’re throwing down their throat, and the staff come equipped with superpowers of the drinks knowledge kind. Liquid learning is a passion here and as a result Death & Co has seen a long list of talented ’tenders take to the stick, too many to mention here, but the fact that the current incumbent, Joaquin Simo, is American Bartender of the Year at Tales of the Cocktail 2012 is evidence enough.

The cocktail list is never over indulgent but always challenging curiosity. It’s modest but epic at the same time, taking customers through a spiritual breakdown of cocktail options. As with all the best bars, anyone who hates making decisions is welcome to ask for a recommendation from the staff, and they’ll always ensure the cocktail they make will float your boat.

Quality seeps into everything they do, from the spirits to the beer, wine and food, but intensity is key to the objectives here.

American whiskey, a big old beast that shouldn’t be chugged with reckless abandon, gets a laudable representation, as do the other brazen boys of the back bar, rum and tequila. The only feints and hearts welcome come off the still, anyone weak at the knees should probably look elsewhere.

Low-lit and with a touch of exposed brickwork, the venue smacks of the classic speakeasies that weigh down New York, but the drinks are very modern, with a tea-infused scotch here and a pineapple-infused tequila there. The bar is in a hip part of town and, while hip replacements abound thanks to the ongoing gentrification of New York, this area of the Lower East Side is a crucial hangout for anyone interested in food and drink. Death & Co fits right in and, as long as there are fans of decent drinks out there, it should long remain in the top 10.