Death & Co. Brings Rockaways to Russia

death & co.Daniel Maurer

Speaking of Rockaway, the folks behind Death & Co. have brought a piece of the peninsula to Russia. Sort of.

David Kaplan and Alex Day, proprietors of Proprietors LLC, recently helped a Russian restaurant group open a cocktail bar called Far Rockaway.

The concept for the “pseudo ex-pat bar” evolved months before Hurricane Sandy brought national notoriety to the neighborhood, said Mr. Kaplan. “What we really wanted to capture was the idea of Far Rockaway as a local escape – it’s close and easy to get to but it’s still kind of not within your every day.”

Don’t expect Rockaway kitsch on the walls, as at Chinatown’s new bar Forgetmenot. Mr. Kaplan and Mr. Day went back and forth about whether to keep the name Far Rockaway in the wake of Sandy, but they knew for certain they didn’t want to open a theme bar. 

UntitledDaniel Maurer Rockaway.

That was hard to explain to the owners, who also run a Coyote Ugly-esque joint with fire-blowing bartenders, called Crazy Daisy. “When we got there they were like [in Russian accent], ‘Okay, so pictures of train, yeah?’” said Mr. Kaplan. “No, not so much pictures of trains.”

The team had just a week to turn a beer hall into an elegant bi-level cocktail den, facing communication hurdles all the while. Still, the project didn’t pose quite as many challenges as a previous gig, opening Ellipsis restaurant in Mumbai. “Everything is impossible to get in India because you have to import everything – even what we call limes and lemons, you have to import,” said Mr. Kaplan.

Add to which, the cocktail scene isn’t quite as evolved in India as it is in Russia. “There’s a great culture of young people,” said Mr. Kaplan of Moscow. “You go out and there’s a really great cocktail culture – there’s eight to 12 really stellar cocktail bars.”

Unlike Far Rockaway, said Mr. Kaplan, many of those bars place an emphasis on flair and flourish. “Everything in Moscow has incredibly ornate garnishes done to it, often at the expense of the cocktail,” he said.

Meanwhile, back home, team Death & Co. is hoping to open its long anticipated Los Angeles project, called Honeycut, mid-summer. Rest assured they’re looking at possibilities in New York, too.