Hidden gems in New York City are harder and harder to find these days. Celebrating the Chinese New Year in style, we headed to Lower East Side's Louie and Chan. While originally unfamiliar with the space ourselves, their story is one of mythical proportions. Two immigrants - one Chinese and one Italian - partnered together in the 1920s to create a multi-functional space. Upstairs is an Italian inspired restaurant and downstairs is Chan's Parlor, where the real action was. Hitting the theme of an 'illegal Opium bar,' we were transported back into the 1920s. We were greeted warmly by owner David Weisner, who insisted we try their specialty cocktail of the day. Called "The Famous Lucky Double 8," it was made with Scotch, honey vanilla syrup, fresh lemon juice and chai tea. Not being a regular Scotch drinker, I was instantly converted by the cocktail, the liquor and tea sync harmoniously at the tongue at first sip with the honey vanilla aftertaste leaving you wanting more.
Taking a tour, we found out that the speakeasy lives up to the theme like no other. On Tuesdays they have live entertainment, and a 35 cent drink special (yes you read correctly) from 7 to 8. Every staff member is dressed up - top hat in hand - complete with a killer band and ladies who dance 1920s' "All That Jazz" style. Wednesday through Saturday they have a variety of entertainment as well. As the tour went on, we learned there was yet another room called "The 303," which is a soundproof room with advanced speaker technology, is host to DJ parties anywhere from British house music to gay 1970s disco parties. The full idea of the space is a one-stop-shop, where you can eat an amazing meal upstairs, sit with your friends for a couple of cocktails, and then dance the night away at The 303. With every New Yorker trying to avoid the winter outside, this is definitely where any of our #labeledmen should and will be.
Upon completion of the tour, Weisner had a variety of bite-sized samples for us to try. While everything is worth a try, we recommend the Crusted Shashito Peppers and the "Bacio del Diavolo," which seemed like your ordinary pizza, but with Calabrian chiles, it had a great kick for those who love some good ol' spice. As we were chatting to the gracious hosts, we noticed PR mogul Gwen Wunderlich walk in and chatted with her about how great the cocktails were. We sipped on her speciality drink called "The Happy Ending," which we'll call "The Long Island Iced Tea for grown-ups." Have one of those and you're pretty much guaranteed a happy ending at the end of the night!
Come eat, drink and dance at Louie & Chan at 303 Broome Street
By Nisim Frank