After four months of gestation, the staff over at Death and Co. debuted their new baby on Friday.
Seventy-four drinks. 74. More like 64 brand spankin' new ones if you don't count some drinks that are from the old menu (like the Oaxacan Old Fashioned). I saw that Joaquin Simo's Carroll Gardens (rye whiskey, Amaro, dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur) was one of the newcomers, though I wasn't unfamiliar with it. I had given it a try back when Charles Vexenat was in town.
So where to even begin? Damon Dyer and Alex Day both had looks in their eyes that practically glinted with the excitement at the prospect of showing off the new drinks as I kept flipping back and forth through the menu.
The first thing you notice about the new menu is that it's a whole lot less unwieldy compared to the long and narrow predecessor. More like a neat little square photo album, the menu doesn't take up too much space on the bar. The pages are easy to remove and replace so menu updates are no longer cumbersome.
"Muddled Mission," I finally stated, picking a drink from the gin category (gin, elderflower liqueur, muddled strawberry, yellow chartreuse, fresh lemon juice).
"Come on, that's like the first thing on the menu," Alex protested.
"I know, I know! I'm just trying to get a start here," I answered defensively.
The drinks are organized into neat sections organized by drink type or spirit type.
"Did you notice the images?" Alex asked.
"I saw them, yes...why, is there something else going on? There's not a test in the back is there?"
Not really, but kind of. More on that later.
The art accompanying the menu do more than just look pretty, they help guide customers through what they might want to drink. Once you decide what spirit you want, if you need anymore help, the drawings indicate which drinks are stirred and which are shaken.
So to make a long story short the menu is there to help customers navigate the menu and determine what kind of drink one might like to enjoy.
Coming back to the test aspect. If anything, I suppose I'm young enough that the new menu layout uncomfortably reminded me of the verbal section on the SATs. If you want to relive the nail-biting days of yore, just flip to the back and there's a multiple choice section...except, surprise! It's about booze. It was like one of those dreams you had when you were in school where it starts out all freaky. Like, you have a final you didn't study for, but then a wave of relief washes over you because you realize the final is something you could totally ace because it's an opinion essay asking you to defend your choice of favorite pizza topping or something.
The last page is not really a test so much as it was a Choose Your Own Adventure drink page. Different drinks were listed with a list of a final spirit element you could choose.
I also tried a Spicy Paloma (jalapeño-infused tequila, fresh grapefruit and lime juice and salted rim), a lips and throat-tingling version of a Paloma. A Paloma usually registers as refreshing with a bright bite to it and a little I don't know what savory side from the bit of salt, but the jalapeño seemed to pull it down into the savory region even more. It's not something you'd want to pound back.
I couldn't stay for more drinks because I got wind of the new menu just a couple of hours prior and had already made plans to be in Queens so I had to end with a third. The Doc Daneeka Royale (Champagne, gin, maple syrup, fresh lemon juice and grapefruit twist).
As I was leaving I told Damon, "You guys can't sneak up a new menu on me like this."
"I'm the one who has to memorize 74 new drinks," he answered.
I asked him how he even went about beginning to do that. "Do you just go through making each drink on the list or something?"
Damon answered that he makes flashcards with the drink names on one side and recipes on the other.
I was less distressed this time and more amused at yet another reminder of my SAT studying days.