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Meet the Bartender Interview Series: Matthew Belanger

Since our design collaboration with Death & Co., we've been excited to see the special edition styles being sported by our friends behind the famed cocktail creations.

Hardworking, adept, and of course stylish, here is our third edition of the Interview Series with their Death & Co. LA bartender, Matthew Belanger.

 

 

City of Residence: 
Los Angeles, CA


Pets / Kids / Family 

My partner Lauren and I have a cat, Ziggy Stardust, who we are totally obsessed with. 

 

Years with Death & Co. / Years Bartending
I’ve been bartending for almost ten years, since I moved to New York in 2011. I started at Death & Co NY in 2015. I took over managing the bar there a few years later, in early 2018 and moved to LA to open D&C LA in fall of last year.

Proudest career moment…

Proudest moment thus far had to be being offered the job of Head Bartender at D&C NY. A lot of really talented people have held that responsibility over the years, and getting that job was about as high as I’d allowed my aspirations to climb up until that point… My two(ish) years of managing that bar were probably two of the most fun, most challenging, most creative years of my career so far. I’m immensely proud of what we’ve managed to accomplish at D&C LA so far as well, obviously, but I don’t think we’ve reached our peak yet so I’ll save that for next time!

 

Describe your personal style in 10 words

Classic, utilitarian, monochromatic? I just wrapped up almost 10 years in NY and by the end my wardrobe was very much the all black, “artist”, punk-adjacent sort of uniform you might associate with a particular era there. Even where I manage to mix it up its only with the occasional white or gray t-shirt. Sturdy boots are my footwear of choice for the ankle support and protection from the elements.

 

 

Best record / Album for enjoying cocktails 

You could probably tell from my out-of-work attire that I’m a punk rocker at heart, and my musical taste definitely reflects that… At the bar of course we tend to keep it a little more subdued but I like to think I managed to sneak a few subversive picks into the greater D&C music rotation - the one of those we played most frequently might be Fugazi’s last record, The Argument… It’s chill enough and groovy enough that it fits the moody atmosphere of the bar but its noisy and dissonant in a way that runs counter to expectations too.

 

Favorite restaurant / bar

My new favorite here in LA is definitely Thunderbolt, an awesome cocktail bar with excellent food and a neighborhoody vibe. It’s just down the road from my apartment so it’s become my “local” even though I don’t get out much these days… Next time I make it back to NY, though, my first stop after Death & Co NY is probably Attaboy.

 

Favorite cocktail to make at home 

I’m partial to making simple classics at home, as I rarely have more than the basic ingredients around - Daiquiris, Martinis, Negronis etc. I was on a bit of a blender kick this summer, so I made a lot of frozen Daiquiris with whatever fresh fruit was on-hand which was pretty tasty!

My favorite Daiquiri recipe is the OG spec - it calls for granulated sugar rather than simple syrup, which actually saves some steps if you're making them at home as opposed to behind a bar. You'll need a bottle of white rum, some limes and granulated sugar. For white rum I quite like Probitas, which is a harder-to-find blend of Bajan rum & Jamaican rum, designed to replicate the flavor profile of classic Cuban rums.


Daiquiri At Home

2 oz White Rum
0.5 oz Fresh lime juice
1 tsp Granulated sugar

I'll add the sugar and lime to a shaker first: doing so helps ensure you get all the sugar properly dissolved. Stirring those two ingredients together with a spoon will work, but I typically use a cheap battery-powered milk frother - It's sort of like a really tiny immersion blender. Once all the sugar granules are dissolved, add rum & lots of ice and shake! Most people typically under-shake cocktails when making them at home, especially daiquiris. I like to tell people the shaker should be so cold that it's painful to hold onto. Once its nice & frosty, strain into a chilled glass and enjoy!

If you've got fresh strawberries or pineapple around, or any other fruit really, muddling a little bit in the tin before shaking is a great way to mix it up and make use of whatever tasty produce is in season.

 

 

One thing I’ve picked up in Quarantine… 

I was playing a ton of guitar for a while! Still trying to find time for that now that I’m back to work.

 

INTRODUCING

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