Death and Co. was opened in 2009 by former bartenders of Milk & Honey and Audrey Sanders's impeccable Pegu Club. It marked what was the peak, and therefore the beginning of the end, of the speakeasy bar trend—at least in New York. (Milk and Honey, the founding father of the movement, has since closed up its tiny reservations-only speakeasy in Chinatown and moved to a bigger, no-reservations space in the Flatiron district.)
The speakeasy elements Death and Co. maintains are a door with no sign, lots of darkness inside, a tight menu heavy with historical drinks, bartenders with rolled-up sleeves, vests, ties tucked inside their shirt, suspenders, arm bands—all of which look good and, more importantly, keep their clothes out of drinks.
A few more observations:
Many drinks are stirred and when done they use Japanese glass pitchers so you can see the stirring.
Stirring with big, beautiful classic bar spoons.
Thick black short straws, not the chintzy little red stir sticks.
Homemade syrups are on a section of the bar in different clear glass jars and bottles, lit from behind.
During down time bartenders polish silverware and glasses.
All glasses checked for spots against a candle before a drink is made in them. All drink making done up in front of the guest. A small design detail that shows a thoughtful bartender designed the space: the drink well is not present across the entire bar space. That means bartenders can stand in front of you to make your drink and not lean forward across the well. It's a small thing but after you notice it you realize how awkward it is at other bars. And if you work at a bar you know how much it can be a pain on your back.
433 E 6 St