GN Chan on winning Altos Bartenders’ Bartender 2023

26 September, 2023

GN Chan, co-founder of New York’s Double Chicken Please has been named the winner of Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award 2023 ahead of The World’s 50 Best Bars announcement next month in Singapore. 

It’s the latest in a flurry of awards for Chan and Double Chicken Please since the Lower East Side bar opened in 2021. In May, the bar was named best in North America and at the 2022 World’s 50 Best Bars, the bar placed sixth and received the award for Highest New Entry.

“Now we’re under the spotlight, how do we keep pushing? How can we keep doing what we’re doing and stay humble? It’s great to receive all of this recognition but the challenge is to make the most of it,” said Chan, speaking to Drinks International.

“We’ve been working on this project for the last seven or eight years, first as a pop-up and then when we finally opened, Covid happened, so from the point where we opened our doors to now is less than three years.

“In Barcelona last year [at the 2022 World’s 50 Best Bars] when we found out where we placed on the list, I was on the phone to my business partner Faye and I said, “we’re fucked”. The first thing we did was think about how we can calm our team, and make sure we stay grounded and humble. For so many of our team, it’s their first job in hospitality, so after we take it in, we have to get used to it quickly.”

The Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award is voted for by the bartenders on this year’s list who were all asked to nominate someone who pushes the limits for what it means to be a great bartender.

“[Being voted for by the other bartenders] is the most amazing part,” said Chan, speaking to Drinks International.

“We started this place during Covid and so at the beginning, we couldn’t travel much or host people because we were still so new and just trying to cope with the situation and trying to survive. I’m so grateful to have this recognition, it means that we’re doing something that people appreciate. It means a lot to the whole team, that we're doing something people will remember.”

Chan isn’t taking the acclaim for granted, instead using his ever-growing platform to create a more idealised bar.

“Even with all the recognition, we still have room to improve,” said Chan. “We’re still hiring – we started with a team of five and now we have 31 full-time members of staff – and we insist on having a diverse team. New York is a very diverse city but the teams in most bars and restaurants aren’t. It’s difficult to manage people from all different backgrounds and cultures but I’m proud to say we’re doing well and we are on the right track.

“I hope people see me as a creative and hard-working person but I want to use this platform to make people also keep pushing themselves. Collectively, we can do better. For example, the laws in the US around alcohol are ridiculous and rooted in prohibition. It’s basically illegal to use rotovaps and other new techniques. If we can use this recognition to question how we can solve these problems as a community, the whole industry will move forward together. That can be truly meaningful, and hopefully, slowly we can be a force of motivation.

“Creating a cocktail menu isn’t a hard thing, maintaining and polishing the program, and building the bar to be more sustainable, that’s the difficult part.”

The World’s 50 Best Bars 2023 will be announced at a live ceremony in Singapore on 17 October 2023, those not in attendance can tune in to the countdown through The World’s 50 Best Bars Facebook and YouTube channel.

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