Death & Co. 124 Blagden Alley, NW.
Open 5 PM to midnight Sunday through Wednesday and 5 PM to 1 AM Thursday through Saturday. Limited seating available to start. Reservations available via Tock, but walk-ins are also welcome.
The New York cocktail bar that helped inspire one of DC’s most esteemed drinking destinations, Columbia Room, is now replacing it. Death & Co opens on Thursday, July 14 with a totally redesigned Blagden Alley space, sophisticated drinks starting at $18, and an homage to its predecessor.
Columbia Room owner Derek Brown decided to close his cutting-edge cocktail bar in February 2022 as he pivoted to a career as a wellness coach and consultant on low- and no-alcohol drinks. In the process, he turned to his good friends and Death & Co owners Dave Kaplan, Alex Day, and Devon Tarby, who had already been looking into a DC expansion. Brown had first visited Death & Co more than a decade ago as an up-and-coming sommelier: “They were almost this advanced study for me in cocktails. If you like the Columbia Room, it’s because you like what I learned at Death & Co,” he previously told Washingtonian.
Death & Co’s Director of Food and Beverage Tyson Buhler is behind the opening cocktail menu, which will be completely different from the ones found at the cocktail bar’s locations in New York, Denver, and Los Angeles. Eventually, the menu development will be overseen by Bar Manager Joshua White and an all-local team, whose resumes span top bars such as Green Zone, Jack Rose, and OKPB.
The 28 cocktails, which will change seasonally, are divided into categories like “light & playful,” “elegant & timeless,” and “boozy & honest”—plus zero-proof. A bright-red spritz dubbed “Maglia Rosa” incorporates a spirit made from plum pits and marigolds as well as a Japanese pickled plum vinegar. A dry gin martini gets a summer twist with an infusion of heirloom tomatoes and a touch of strawberry liqueur.
On the boozier end, a bourbon old-fashioned uses a Baltimore-made smoked apple brandy. “They take apples and they treat them like mezcal does with agave,” Buhler explains. Also decadent: a riff on a pina colada that swaps granny-smith apple juice for pineapple juice and adds a slight horseradish kick.
Meanwhile, the food menu is succinct, snacky, and sophisticated—think olives, tinned fish, steak tartare, and caviar service. Death & Co will also carry over its popular warm chocolate chip cookies made with banana liqueur and served alongside a cold glass of milk. Both food and drink menus will be available throughout the bar and lounge and the greenery-filled patio.
Expect the bar to look completely different from Columbia Room. Death & Co has taken down all the walls to create a more open space with a white marble bar that faces the entrance. “The bar really is this celebrated show instead of it kind of unveiling itself behind the corner,” Kaplan says. “It is the stage, and it’s the first time we’ve really done that.”
Wood slats on the ceiling nod to Death & Co’s original East Village locale. And Columbia Room isn’t completely forgotten either: Its epic tasting room mosaic remains, now as an accent wall.
“As soon as we signed on to the space, everyone was asking what we were going to do with it. And we knew all along that we wanted to have a very intentional homage and find a place for it,” Kaplan says. “This is the foundation that this building and that our business was built on, and we’re transparent with that and we’re celebrating it.”
Correction: This story has been update to reflect that Death & Company’s DC team come from bars including Green Zone, Jack Rose, and OKPB. Bar Manager Joshua White has not worked at all those bars himself.