You will learn a lot from Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails, the new book from the New York City cocktail bar of the same name. Not just about cocktails — although obviously there is that — but about liquor in general, about owning and running a bar, and about this particular bar. Opening in 2006, Death & Co. was among the first of the current wave of serious craft cocktail bars in the country. Over the past eight years, they've accumulated quite a bit of cocktail knowledge, and near as I can tell, most of it is contained in this book.
Whereas a book like Jim Meehan's PDT Cocktail Book is jam packed with recipes — as Meehan puts it, out of a need to "document, cite, and credit" — Death & Co. contains tons of background information. Context is given to every liquor used, why and how to cut garnishes into different shapes, why you might use different shaped glassware to mix drinks, and which shaped glassware to serve them in. Furthermore, there is instruction for how to go about making up your own cocktails, which makes this book useful for the beginner and experienced home bartender alike.
One of the most charming aspects of Death & Co. is that the book profiles several of the bar's regulars. These sections include a pen-and-ink sketch of said regular, the recipe for their preferred drink, and a quick story about them. It's a small, easy thing to do in a book, but not one I've seen before, and one that completes the portrait of Death & Co. What is a bar without its regulars, after all?
Death & Co. is by David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald, and Alex Day. It's out now from Ten Speed (order on Amazon).