How Did a Fried Chicken Joint Become the Best Place for Affordable Champagne in NYC?

Coqodaq is our new favorite place for the ultimate high-low pairing.



Even before Manhattan’s Coqodaq opened its doors this January to a clamoring, seemingly endless waitlist of New Yorkers, fried chicken and Champagne had quietly been making their ascent to it-couple status.

“When you’re enjoying crispy fried chicken, you need a beverage that complements the dish’s robust texture,” says Victoria James, executive director of beverage and partner in Gracious Hospitality Management, which owns Coqodaq in addition to Cote, a buzzy Korean steakhouse with locations in New York City, Miami, and soon, Singapore. “The effervescence and acidity of Champagne aids in cutting through the richness of fried chicken by effectively breaking down the fats on your palate.”

If chicken — in nugget, wing, and drumstick form, tucked into buckets that cost $38 per person — is the headline act at Coqodaq, Champagne is the director pulling the strings. You can order a bottle of 1985 Krug or 1979 Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque and have an opulent night out, or take the arguably more exciting route by focusing on James’ staggering collection of 100 bottles of bubbly priced at $100 or less, hailing not just from Champagne, but Italy, Spain, England, and beyond.

“I wanted everyone to be able to drink Champagne in here,” says James She cites the extensive bubbly list as partially inspired by traditional chimaek, the Korean combination of fried chicken and beer. With more than 20 half-bottles of Champagne and multiple canned sparkling wine offerings, accessibility and experimentation are both truly on the menu.

Why does Champagne pair so well with fried chicken?

It’s hard to ignore the high-low appeal of pairing Champagne with fried chicken (think, caviar and hot dogs, or truffles and scrambled eggs) but there’s also science behind why the combination works.

“Champagne features expended yeast cells from the aging process, which help aid in digestion and give the wine an added layer of texture,” says James. “[This helps] to further refresh the palate rather than leaving you feeling weighed down, especially after a more substantial meal. The fizz also adds a refreshing brightness to the meal.”

While Champagne is the star of Coqodaq’s bubbly menu, James encourages guests to try pairing their fried chicken buckets with other stylistic options, such as Lambrusco, Cava, and Franciacorta.



James adds that the original fried chicken at Coqodaq, pairs nicely with “pretty much all” of the 400 sparkling wines on the list, but suggests being a little more thoughtful when considering specific glazes. “With the soy garlic and gochujang glaze, which both kick up the sweetness and spice, you want a Champagne with more weight and richness, preferably with a touch more residual sugar as well to stand up to the powerful sauces,” she says.

For example, rosé Champagnes made through the assemblage technique, in which a bit of still red wine is added in the blend, tend to be a bit more vinous and offer another layer of complexity. James recommends wines of the style with certain pairings in which she hopes to allow the fruit and tannin to grab onto the oils of the dish and provide more structure. 

What are some of the best Champagnes to pair with fried chicken?

Affordable Champagnes made by smaller growers have been especially popular with diners to pair alongside Coqodaq’s fried chicken feast. James names Diebolt-Vallois, J. Lasalle, and Vix-Bara as three producers that have been especially popular among guests during the restaurant’s first few months in business.

“Literally almost every table here gets a bottle of Champagne…it proves that if you build it, they will come,” she says.

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