If you’re looking for more than just somewhere to grab a quick drink — and an escape from the glow of your phone screen — a new cocktail lounge, immersive event space, and nightclub in the neighborhood may just be what you’re looking for.
Last month, Dead Letter No. 9 opened at 63 Grand Street as a labor of love among immersive theater company Roll the Bones and Brooklyn restaurateurs Josh Cohen (Hidden Leaf, Lilia, Chez Ma Tante, St. Vitus) and Mark Rancourt (Top Quality, Extra Fancy) heading up the food and beverage programs, respectively.
Roll the Bones — featuring alumni responsible for productions like Sleep No More — has transformed the space, inspired by a postal facility, to set the scene and serve as the curated backdrop for engaging conversation. Upon arrival, attendees share a bubbly toast and are each provided with a vintage Casio watch to track the time as they guide themselves through the space for the next 90 minutes, encountering a porch in the Great Smokies, a camper nestled into the boulders of Joshua Tree, and (my personal favorite) a treehouse in an East Coast backyard. Within each room, visitors pick “lost” letters bearing prompts to invite discussions ranging from the silly and mundane to searching and profound (the prompts are actually written by previous attendees of the experience), like “What’s your relationship to loneliness?” or “Are birds real?”
The experience is named after the concept of “dead letter mail,” also known as undeliverable mail unable to be returned to sender, which would be processed in separate postage facilities and given one last chance at being retrieved.
According to creator and director Taylor Myers, “Dead Letter No. 9 encourages genuine human connection, one interaction at a time,” which I’d say they achieve, due to not just the curated nature of the experience, but the highly passionate and committed staff. Beyond just the performers guiding prompts in rooms (which typically ends up veering off into unimaginable directions, especially the more people that participate and are willing to get deep), the bar staff was also incredibly educational and engaging, particularly the bartender Angel, who spoke about mixology with passion and approachability in equal measure.
And there’s much to stick around for after the experience is over. The food menu features N.C. blister-fried peanuts, smoked trout dip with everything pretzel bread, perfectly satisfying fried chicken sliders, and more inspired by post office cafeterias and the aforementioned themed sets, complemented by cocktails like the gin-based Fancy French Accent, updated takes on Midori and Amaretto Sours, the light, tropical Air Mail to Jamaica, and others. For more decompressing, the back room of the space becomes nightclub CARGO featuring lights, music, and special guest DJs.
For those just hoping to dip their toes in the food and beverage menu, or who aren’t feeling particularly verbose, Dead Letter No. 9 is open to the public on Thursdays through Saturdays from 5 p.m. Tickets for the immersive experience specifically can be purchased here.