This Cult NYC Cocktail Bar Just Opened in Washington, D.C.—Here’s a Look Inside

The New York City bar has now expanded to its fourth location in the United States.

Interior of Death & Co D.C., which replaced the much-lauded Columbia Room—but kept the iconic mural.

Death & Co D.C. replaced the much-lauded Columbia Room—but it kept the iconic mosaic.

Courtesy of Eric Medsker

Renowned New York City cocktail bar Death & Co opened its newest location in Washington, D.C. this week, breathing new life into the former Columbia Room space with blue-velvet booths and a marble bar where patrons can now sip some of the best-in-class spirits.

Death & Co debuted in New York in 2006 and has since expanded to Denver in 2018, then Los Angeles in 2019, and now to the nation’s capital.

“We have long dreamed of coming to D.C.,” David Kaplan, founder and co-owner of Death & Co, told AFAR. “The city has always inspired us for its rich history, its depth and texture, and the incredibly vibrant food and beverage scene. There’s an energy to the city that’s hard to find elsewhere, and we hope that we can live up to it.”

Here’s what you need to know about the new Death & Co in D.C.

One of Death & Co's signature cocktails, the Cruisemaster

One of Death & Co’s signature cocktails, the Cruisemaster

Courtesy of Eric Medsker

The food and drinks at Death & Co in Washington, D.C.

The menu features 28 cocktails, many of which will change with the seasons. The drinks are organized on the menu by profile, including “Zero Proof,” “Light & Playful,” “Elegant & Timeless,” “Boozy & Honest,” and “Rich & Comforting.”

Two unique offerings include the “Coconut Jam” (a riff on a Piña Colada that uses rye whiskey, horseradish, apple, and coconut) and the “Hot Sauce Committee” (mixing Arette Blanco tequila, raspberry brandy, Campari, hot sauce, and lime).

“The menu is an extension of the philosophy that unites all our menus: All the drinks are grounded firmly in the classics, but we use the structure and accessibility of those to present novel techniques and showcase one-of-a-kind spirits,” said Matthew Belanger, the bar manager who helped create the menu in D.C. “We want guests to find an easy point of access to every drink, but once you’re enjoying the cocktail, it should reveal something new and exciting about the ingredients and their flavors.”

Some of Death & Co’s most famous cocktails (such as the Oaxaca Old-Fashioned) aren’t on the official menu. However, bartenders are able to take requests. There are also a variety of local beers, ciders, and wine on offer.

Beyond libations, Death & Co offers a tapas-style food menu, with selections that include marinated olives (with rosemary, coriander, and citrus), a crudité spread (vegetables, labneh, sumac, and lemon herbs), a caviar service (with potato chips, crème fraîche, chives, and a shot of Akvavit), and “Uncle Wes’ Drunken Cookies” (freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies made with banana liqueur and served with a glass of milk).

The patio at Death & Co D.C. at night, with brick walls

The patio at Death & Co D.C. offers 52 seats and access to the full menu.

Courtesy of Eric Medsker

The new Death & Co space and design

The newest Death & Co outpost replaces the much-lauded Columbia Room, which during its 12-year run won multiple awards for its cocktail program, including the 2017 Spirited Award for “Best American Cocktail Bar” from the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation.

“In taking over Columbia Room and bringing Death & Co to life within its four walls, we are committed to not just offering an exceptional guest experience, but to preserving the spirit of one of the country’s greatest bars,” said Kaplan.

Guests who spent time in the Columbia Room may not recognize the space, however. Death & Co knocked down walls to create an airier feel and brought in new furniture, including a marble bar, dark green and blue-hued velvet booths, gold decor, and wooden slats on the ceilings (a nod to Death & Co’s original East Village location). However, Death & Co did save one iconic piece of art: a mosaic that runs the entire length of the right wall. According to Death & Co co-owner Devon Tarby, keeping the artwork pays homage to its predecessor.

“Not only is the mosaic beautiful, but it also represents an important piece of a cocktail bar history in D.C., and we wanted to celebrate that as we take the physical space into its next chapter,” Tarby said.

The D.C. location offers 84 seats inside, including 15 bar stools, and 52 seats on the outside patio—having an alfresco space is a first for Death & Co. The full menu is available throughout the establishment.

What’s next for Death & Co?

The Death & Co team already has their eyes set on their next city, Seattle, where they hope to open their fifth location in 2024.

How to Visit Death & Co Washington, D.C.

Death & Co D.C. is now open from 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Wednesday and until 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. A small number of reservations are available via Tock, a scheduling app, but walk-ins are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Cocktails start at $18.

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at AFAR. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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