In 2014 I set out on a quest to go to the top 100 bars in the world.
By the middle of 2019, I’d been to 59/100.
Then COVID hit.
Then my wife got pregnant.
Now our daughter is almost two, and I haven’t been to a new top 100 bar since, well, 2019.
This past weekend we convinced the grandparents to watch our kid, and my wife and I took our first trip away since her birth.
It was quick.
We missed her.
But man did it feel good to experience a bit of our “old life” for a couple of nights.
Especially when you’re able to stay at a really fancy hotel on points – and get upgraded to a suite in the process 🙂
On the 2022 Worlds 50 Best List of Bars (which is actually 100), there were only two bars I hadn’t been to:
Double Chicken Please (#6) and Overstory (#34).
Of course, Overstory was closed for private events both nights I was there.
I was also in NYC in July, and Overstory was closed both nights then as well – bummer.
But Double Chicken Please was the one I was most excited about anyway.
Good news, we made it. Barely.
Getting a Reservation at Double Chicken Please
Before we talk about the experience and the drinks, you should know what to expect when it comes to a reservation.
Reservations open up at Midnight 6 days before the date. Fortunately, living on the West Coast, this was only 9 o’clock – so I set a timer and expected to get a reservation no problem.
The second the clock ticked to 9, I refreshed the page and was met with a plethora of available times for the following Friday.
I picked one, entered my Resy information, and hit submit.
“We’re sorry, this time is no longer available.”
Neither were any of the others that night.
Gone in seconds.
Sidenote: I thought reservation systems gave you a 3-minute window to you know actually make your selected reservation, before giving it away. Apparently not. Oh well.
We’d have to take our chances by just showing up.
The Experience at Double Chicken Please
We arrived at 4:45 for a 5pm opening time, and were met by about 20 people in line ahead of us.
By the time 5 pm hit, there’d be an additional 20+ behind us as well.
The doorman was the best I’ve seen.
He was calm, respectful, communicative, and polite in dealing with the thirsty masses. After a few negative experiences with this recently, I’ll say it goes a really long way to starting your experience off right.
By about 5:15 we were in the door and at the front of the line.
If you’re unfamiliar with Double Chicken Please, “The Backroom” which is what you’re really coming for if you’re into cocktails.
There’s a more casual restaurant in the front, which was empty when we arrived, but was quite full by the time we left at 6:30. It serves more casual cocktails and food.
We were escorted to one of the last remaining tables for the opening of service, and I was able to breathe a sigh of relief.
On this trip we talked about how lucky we’ve been in our bar travels. New York, London, Paris, Singapore, Tokyo – there have been very few bars we haven’t been able to get into. Hell, we’ve hardly even had to wait in most cases.
But during these two December days in New York? The city was packed. Lines everywhere. So we were very pleased to get in after visiting 3 other bars the night before – all of which were closed for private parties.
We were seated in a corner booth, and within seconds I was reminded of why we began this quest in the first place.
Everything about Double Chicken is well executed.
The space is beautiful and designed so that even when sitting near others, you still felt like you had a bit of privacy.
The music fit the vibe perfectly, and rather than just a small Sonos tucked in the corner, the speakers were high quality – which added to the atmosphere.
DCP also has a cool dichotomy where on the one hand it’s a fancy cocktail bar, and other, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
See the chicken mural behind the bar as a good example of this.
It’s comfortable there, and a step (or two) above your typical cocktail bar.
The Drinks at Double Chicken Please
When talking about top cocktail bars, I often talk about the three things I think you need to have a world-class bar:
- Phenomenal Drinks
- A unique or interesting atmosphere
The first two are obvious. But the last one is less about a photo-sharing app, and more about creating a unique experience that makes people want to share and tell their friends.
In the case of Double Chicken Please, it isn’t necessarily because of the drink presentation, but rather it’s the concept of their menu.
As described by them:
“The Back Room at Double Chicken Please offers inventive craft cocktails that deconstruct, redefine and rebuild iconic dishes into liquid form such as the Japanese Cold Noodle, Cold Pizza, Key Lime Pie, NY Beet Salad, Mango Sticky Rice and others.”
A cold pizza drink?
But regardless of whether it’s good or not, it’s a concept that makes you want to talk about it!
This is what kept Nottingham Forest in Milan on the top bar lists for so long.
They nailed this concept of “instagramability” – despite their drinks not always tasting that great.
Fortunately, Double Chicken Please nails the unique concept with drinks that are actually delicious.
We tried four of them.
Japanese Cold Noodle
This is the drink everyone asked me if I tried when I went.
- Bacardi Carta Blanca
- sesame oil
The sesame is immediately noticeable on the nose, and there’s a thick foam that is layered over the top of the drink
Much of the cold noodle aspect is derived from the sesame, which is very clearly there, but not overpowering.
Otherwise, it was a fruitier drink than I was expecting, specifically the pineapple flavor. The Japanese Cold Noodle has vibes of a Hotel Nacional cocktail, which is meant as a compliment.
Mango Sticky Rice
Drinks like this are the reason I continue to love visiting top bars.
This is hands down one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had.
The drink consists of:
- Bacardi Ocho
- mango sticky rice pu’er tea
- cold brew
- tonka beans
This drink just hit on absolutely every note for me. There are subtle coffee notes, as well as a subtle earth rice note that carries through the whole drink.
The mango felt like it had the potential to be overpowering, but it wasn’t.
The tonka bean ties everything together with a nice nuttiness, and is an under-utilized cocktail ingredient we were first introduced to at Operation Dagger in Singapore (now Grafft + Dagger).
If visiting, this is the one drink I’d say is a must-order.
Red Eye Gravy
Red Eye Gravy is one of those drinks that sounds so weird that I had to try it.
- Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey
- coffee butter
- wild mushroom
- microwaved coppa
This is a good example of an experiential drink.
Not only do the ingredients sound very odd for a cocktail, the microwaved coppa served on the side makes for a good talking point.
This drink was delicious, if not a little sweet.
The point of the salty coppa is to take a bite before you sip, to balance out the sweetness with some salt.
The smell and taste is extremely reminiscent of caramel corn.
You also wouldn’t guess it was a whiskey drink based on taste alone.
A nice change from the Cold Noodle.
It’s interesting how they take grains (like the rice in the Mango Sticky Rice or the corn here) and really bring those flavors out in the drink.
Butter Raisin Biscuit
This dessert wine cocktail may have been the one that was most transformed by its accouterment. It comes with a tea-soaked biscuit, that truly changes the flavor of the drink when you take a bite before sipping.
In the drink:
- Chateau Montifaud Vieux Pineau
- black raisin
- brown butter
The raisin very much comes through, and this cocktail was bit more subtle than the others we tried.
Very good, and especially good if you eat the tea biscuit as recommended.
Final Thoughts on Double Chicken Please
After visiting Double Chicken Please we had a couple hours to kill before our dinner reservation, so we tried our hand at some of the other notable cocktail bars within walking distance.
Attaboy? Ha, yeah right. The line was down the block.
Death and Co? 2 Hour wait.
But we were able to pop into Bar Goto which is currently #83 and Amor y Amargo which has been ranked in previous lists.
While those are both very good for what they are (especially Amor y Amargo), none of them have that “je ne sais qois” that makes Double Chicken so special.
Everything from the ambiance, to presentation, to concept, to taste just hits at DCP.
The food is also excellent, and I’d highly recommend the (slightly) spicy popcorn chicken.
Having not been able to visit a new top 100 bar in a long time, this experience brought a lot of memories rushing back about why an experience like this can be so memorable and so special.
It’s not exactly easy to get into these days, but if you’re in New York City anytime soon? I’d highly recommend you make visiting a priority.
Other New York Cocktail Bars to Visit
Both of these have previously been ranked the #1 bar in the world:
Not sure how west on the west coast you are, but if you’re ever down in San Diego (might be outing myself as a not so serious follower here) there are a number of excellent cocktail bars down there. The bar staff are about as exciting as Mark Zuckerberg testifying in Congress, but the drinks they make are some of the best of all the major cities we’ve visited (including NYC). Food for thought!