Aleex Day’s first drink at the East Village’s Death & Co. was an Aviation, the classic gin cocktail made with maraschino, lemon juice, and crème de violette. It was unlike any drink he’d had anywhere else. “My first visit changed my perception of what a drink could be, and made me so excited about learning more,” says Day, who was fresh out of college at the time and working at another bar in the city. “Eventually,” he says, “I tricked [Death & Co. co-owner David Kaplan] into giving me a job.”
Of the bars that have fueled the modern cocktail revival, Death & Co. has had one of the greatest influences on bartenders and drinkers alike since it opened 10 years ago. Though it wasn’t the earliest pioneer of the craft cocktail bar revival in NYC, it fueled the public’s interest in classic drinks while simultaneously ushering in a new era of creativity, launching all kinds of “modern classics” that are now served at bars from Portland to New Orleans and back to Midtown Manhattan.
Reflecting on the bar’s 10-year history via email, Day — who ultimately became a co-owner at Death & Co, as well as multiple other bars — is nostalgic: “It may be a bit sappy, but it still blows my mind that I’m an owner of the bar that literally changed my life and inspired every aspect of my profession.”