Friday, December 01, 2023

Double Chicken Please (New York, NY)

Double Chicken Please Bar
115 Allen St, New York, NY 10002
Fri 12/01/2023, 08:30p-11:30p

Double Chicken Please Exterior

Following my meal at Atera, I ventured over to the Lower East Side to check out Double Chicken Please, a new-ish cocktail bar that's been getting a lot of buzz lately. The place opened back in November 2020, and is the creation of Gn Chan (a.k.a. Chia-an Chan) and Faye Chen, in partnership with Huey Cheng's Cloud 9 Hospitality Group, the company behind the likes of Kura, Raku, and Pâtisserie Fouet.

About the Bartenders: The story begins with Chan Chia-an, a native of Tainan, Taiwan who got into bartending by accident. He had majored in industrial design at Chang Gung University, and actually started his own firm, but lost it all due to some bad business dealings. Interestingly, he subsequently became a street magician, which led to him meeting a flair bartender, which led to a job at a bar, which led him to discover that he really loved bartending. It was also during this period that he would meet his future business partner, Faye Chen.

Chen hails from Taoyuan, Taiwan, and began her hospitality career at the age of 19 as a waitress at a local bar. After witnessing a flair bartending performance, she became interested in the skill and began taking classes. She eventually made her way to the same flair-focused bar as Chan, but he would leave for New York City in 2011 in order to better his understanding of mixology. He held various jobs in NYC before being hired at the iconic Angel's Share in 2012, where he worked under the renowned Shingo Gokan, first starting as a host before moving his way up the ladder to bartender over the course of a year. It was during his tenure at the East Village establishment where he won the 2016 Bacardi Legacy Global cocktail competition.

Gokan himself, meanwhile, relocated to Shanghai to launch a new bar called Speak Low, and through Chan's relationship with him, Chen also moved to China in 2014 to help with the opening. Speak Low dropped in June 2014 and rapidly made a name for itself, as did Chen when she won the Bacardi Legacy China competition in 2015.

Chan wound up leaving Angel's Share in 2017 to start his own venture, and convinced Chen to join him in NYC. He purchased a Volkswagen Type 2 Westfalia camper van, and the two drove around the country holding cocktail pop-ups, though Chan also started bartending at Greenwich Village's Mace in November 2018. After a couple years of planning, the pair finally debuted Double Chicken Please on November 13th, 2020 with limited pandemic-era service. The full bar, with the back room and all, finally opened in July 2021, and DCP quickly began garnering accolades. In June 2022, it landed on the North America's 50 Best Bars list at #17, and just four months later, it was rated #6 on the World's 50 Best Bars ranking. May 2023 saw DCP secure the #1 spot on the North American list, and in October, it was voted #2 in the World--a pretty meteoric rise to say the least.

And if you're wondering about why this place is called Double Chicken Please, Chan and a friend of his back in Taiwan both have "chicken"-based nicknames. The two of them were initially planning on opening up a design studio called Double Chicken Please following college graduation, but when that business never materialized, the moniker was repurposed for this bar.

Double Chicken Please Interior (Front Room)
I arrived at the bar a bit past 8:00 PM, got in line, and was approached to put my name on the waitlist for The Coop (the fancier back room) 15 minutes later. I then remained in line until I was let into the Front Room around 8:30 PM. As you can see above, it's a fairly small space, and largely standing-only. Cocktails here are on tap, and are ordered via the numbers posted on the wall. Note that DCP takes over the former home of Hill & Dale, which was Mary Queen of Scots and Allen & Delancey prior.

#4 - Shochu, Lemongrass, Gentian, Plum Green Tea
#4 - Shochu, Lemongrass, Gentian, Plum Green Tea [$15.00]
I ordered my first cocktail due to its somewhat unusual base spirit of shochu, and found it fizzy and refreshing, its subdued sweetness joined by grassy, nutty notes and accents of lemongrass.

Popcorn Chicken + Thai Basil Aioli Sauce
Popcorn Chicken + Thai Basil Aioli Sauce [$12.00 + $4.00] | Ginger, White Pepper, Five Spice
The popcorn chicken was absolutely calling my name, and the bird came out well-textured and pretty juicy, with a subtle heat supported by an underlying layer of spicy-sweetness. I also tried one of the optional sauces, and found a bit too restrained for my liking, as I really wanted the basil to be more assertive.

#2 - Tequila, Cocchi Americano, Bergamot, Grapefruit
#2 - Tequila, Cocchi Americano, Bergamot, Grapefruit [$15.00]
My second cocktail also delivered thanks to its mélange of tropical, fragrant, and grassy flavors, perked up by the bittersweetness of grapefruit.

Double Chicken Please Interior (The Coop)
At 9:10 PM, I received a text notification to check in with the hostess for The Coop, though I wasn't permitted to enter until 25 minutes later. It's a much darker, clubbier, wood-paneled space befitting the more serious drinks being served.

Double Chicken Please Interior (The Coop Bar)
This was the view from my seat at the left corner of the bar. See here for the menu, which includes food created by DCP's Executive Chef Mark Chou (Eleven Madison Park, Le Bernardin, O Ya, Blue Hill).

Japanese Cold Noodle
Japanese Cold Noodle [$20.00] | Bacardi Superior, Pineapple, Cucumber, Coconut, Lime, Sesame Oil
The cocktails here are culinarily-inspired, and this first one really did capture the essence of the familiar noodle dish. I got a nose filled with bright cucumber, but with a decidedly savory twang, while taste-wise, the warm, nutty nature of the sesame oil was at the fore, countered by more cucumber and plenty of tropical fruit.

Waldorf Salad
Waldorf Salad [$19.00] | Dewar's 15yr, Laphroaig 10yr, Apple, Celery, Ginger Ale, Walnut Bitters
The next cocktail combined the requisite fruity, nutty flavors of the classic salad with a peppery spice and the unmistakable peatiness of that Islay whisky.

Koji Cucumbers
Koji Cucumbers [$9.00] | Shio Kombu, Sesame, Thai Chili
Cucumber showed off a welcoming crunch, while flavors went in a tangy, nutty, spicy direction.

Red Eye Gravy
Red Eye Gravy [$20.00] | Teeling Irish Whiskey, Coffee Butter, Corn, Walnut, Wild Mushroom, Microwaved Coppa
The American Southern staple of red-eye gravy was the inspiration behind my next cocktail. I quite liked its sugary, caramel-laced notes, contrasted against the distinctly earthy qualities of the mushrooms, while the coffee peeked through just enough. Big fan of that salty pork garnish, too.

Butter Raisin Biscuit
Butter Raisin Biscuit [$20.00] | Chateau Montifaud Vieux Pineau, Black Raisin, Brown Butter
I wanted to end with something a bit more dessert-y, hence my final cocktail. The drink really did a great job conveying the richness of brown butter, which combined seamlessly with the sweet-tart raisins, all while the Pineau des Charentes provided that necessary boozy weight.

Le Big Mac
Le Big Mac [$11.00] | Macaron, Choco Ice Cream, Yuzu, Mochi (in collaboration with Pâtisserie Fouet)
A sort of faux burger made for a fun finish to my experience, and strangely enough, I swear I tasted something hamburger-esque in there.

I'm certainly glad that I made the effort (and braved the wait and the rain) to check out Double Chicken Please. The whole idea of doing food-inspired cocktails made for some really creative, delicious drinks, and I appreciated the duality of having the more casual Front Room available. The bartenders were quite friendly as well, and if I lived in the area, I could see DCP being one of my go-to spots.


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