Since opening its East Village location on New Year’s Eve 2006, Death and Co has rightfully garnered a worldwide reputation for continually developing and serving some of the most showstopping cocktails to hit the everchanging world of mixed beverages. It gained early acclaim as much for its on-site air of sensual confidentiality as it did for the drinks, so when it was announced that it would open a Denver outpost at The Ramble Hotel, many wondered how the concept could be translated to a decidedly more spacious setting. Though in 2018, the RiNo iteration opened, managing to continue the tradition across a bright and open, though somehow no less intimate format.
Amidst the high ceilings and splendid seating arrangements, there’s always been the compact upstairs lounge, Suite 6A. It’s a proper sanctuary for anyone seeking that same illicit rendezvous allure of the original. On any given day, it’s cozy, with the space having been used to host pop-ups from some of the kind of world-class hooch peddlers one would expect at a place of Death and Co’s pedigree.
Beginning in March, Suite 6A was transformed into The House of Suntory — a discretely lavish ode to bona fide highballs, a compact range of cocktails featuring a wide breadth of Japanese spirits and a slight menu of associated snacks. Originally formulated by John Armstrong — the current West Coast Brand Ambassador for Beam Suntory who previously bartended at the principal Death and Co from 2013 to 2015 — at the brand’s Los Angeles location, the pop-up gracefully displays many of the nuanced fineries that have become synonymous with both labels. The aesthetics pay tribute to the Sakura Festival, with a dense cloud of cherry blossoms trickling across the entire ceiling. The music, which favors downtempo, funk and jazz is all hand-selected and hums gently, aligning the place with Tokyo’s famed record bars. The collection — a multiple-crates thick stack of rare Japanese vinyl that lines the wall — is apparently Armstrong’s personal reserve.
The highballs, of which there are four, range from the largely unembellished Toki Whiskey ($14) — with seltzer and a grapefruit twist — to the Shoganai ($24) — an extravagant though balanced affair with Hibiki Harmony, Aval Cider, champagne and apple eau de vie. The cocktails are all relatively bold, with the Open Sesame ($17) — with Legent Bourbon, mango brandy, sesame, pineapple, lemon and aquafaba — being the boldest.
Food-wise there’s togarashi popcorn ($9), edamame ($9) — perfectly accented with garlic, sesame and sambal — and a fried chicken bao ($17), which comes three to an order topped with apricot-chili aioli and house pickles. The buns are certainly the piece de resistance and should be consumed with vigor.
Whether simple or complex, each drink is a firm reminder of why Death and Co has been such a critical darling. This is all Tales of the Cocktail-caliber stuff, each sip emblematic of a team who has never for even one moment lost their touch.
Death and Co is located at 1280 25th St., Denver. It is open Sunday – Wednesday from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. and again from 3 p.m. – 12 a.m., and Thursday – Saturday from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. and again from 3 p.m. – 12 a.m.
The House of Suntory Pop-Up will be open Thursday – Saturday from 4 p.m. – 1 a.m. through April 30.
All photography courtesy of Shawn Campbell.