This hip new lounge resides below Mercadito
, an upscale Mexican restaurant in River North. It's very small - only room for 60-70 or so - and reservations are recommended. Adding to the chic style of the place, bartenders make your drinks right in front of you.
Upon entering, one's first impression of Double A might be that they have perhaps entered the waiting room to get into Double A. Not so: The space is on the smaller, intimate side, and those dozens of people in front of you that you could probably high five all at once if you just leaned forward a little bit are indeed all the people here.
That intimacy is all part of the plan. Double A, so named after the initials of the clubs two co-owners, New York nightlife impresarios Alexander Julian and Alfredo Sandoval, uses the small space to its advantage, fostering a somewhat unique setup as far as drink service goes. Instead of the stodgy old "bar against the wall, employees behind the counter" scenario common to so many other bars and clubs, the bar runs down the center of the room and the bartenders are free to float. With the tableside service, one never even has to stand up and approach the bar for a fresh drink.
And you couldn't be blamed for not wanting to leave your booth. Attractive, distressed dark wood frames each sitting area; cozy booths crafted from old leather and tabletops based on vintage mirrors lend an element of modern style using recycled materials.
New York mixologists and self-proclaimed "beverage geeks," the Tippling Brothers have crafted the drink menu here. There's a full bar, and specialty drinks average around $10-12. Concoctions like Kissyomama, with tequila, mango juice, hot sauce, ginger and basil are on offer as well as less ornate fare.
The doormen can be a bit picky, and it tends to help if your crowd has an equal mix of girls and guys. Dining at Mercadito doesn't necessarily guarantee access either. Whether or not you're one of the chosen few who get to dance to the DJs at Double A, don't take it too personally – the space can only fit 65 people, after all.
Centerstage Reviewer: Bill Burman