A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 17, 2009
“Fried chicken and champagne? Why the hell not?” (Max’s Wine Dive)

"Fried chicken and champagne? Why the hell not?” is the slogan of Max’s Wine Dive, an establishment that specializes in “gourmet comfort food and spectacular wines.” Max’s opened in Houston (TX) in 2006 and in Austin (TX) in 2009.

The pairing of fried chicken and champagne might seem illogical to some (common food with an uncommonly expensive drink), but the bubbles in the champagne work to cut through the grease and fat of the chicken. The pairing has been cited in print from at least the 1890s. H. L. Mencken (1880-1956), in his book on the newspaper days of 1899-1906, wrote that he saw United States senators load up on fried chicken and champagne.


Max’s Wine Dive (Houston & Austin)
Fried chicken and Champagne?...Why the hell not?! It’s not just a slogan—it’s a mantra. MAX’s Wine Dive features incredible “gourmet comfort food” and spectacular wines from around the world. Enjoy both in a casual, hip atmosphere while rockin’ out to killer tunes on the juke box… Come visit us soon!

Google Books
September 1894, Munsey’s Magazine, pg. 575, col. 2:
His (Thomas Loftin Johnson—ed.) critics—for like every public man, he has critics—smile at his visits to New York, when “after dining at his gorgeous hotel on fried chicken and champagne he sends his silk hat and English overcoat up to his apartments, dons a slouch traveling hat, wanders over to Third Avenue, and talks for an hour in a stuffy little hall on the deplorable condition of the AMerican working man.”

Google Books
Following Old Trails
By Arthur L. Stone
Missoula, MT: M. J. Elrod
1913
Pg. 171:
When I saw the way those fat old fellows went for the fried chicken and champagne, I understood why it was that they didn’t feel equal to the longer trip up the mountain.

Google Books
Newspaper Days: 1899-1906
By H. L. Mencken
London: Kegan Paul
1942
Pg. 106:
A large marquee had been erected for the accommodation of distinguished guests, and in it I found a dozen or more United States Senators loading up on fried chicken and champagne.

Google Books
15 July 1965, Jet, pg. 28:
Before fleeing Paris, he took over Leroy (Rough House) Haynes’ (he was the famous Morehouse College football great) “soul food” restaurant and hosted a champagne and fried chicken party for the cast of his Amen Corner.

Google Books
27 November 1989, Jet, pg. 63:
FAVORITE MEAL: Fried chicken and champagne.

28 June 2006, Chicago (IL) Tribune, A pairing with pluck ; Red, white or rose, wine for fried chicken needs plenty of zip” by Bill Daley, Good Eating section, pg. 8:
“A few years ago I attended a backyard summer party featuring nothing but fried chicken and Champagne. I thought I had died and gone to heaven,” she writes.

Bay Area Reporter
‘Queer Eye’ for SF
Published 09/28/2006
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy‘s resident foodie Ted Allen, right, poses for a photo with San Francisco resident and Gay Games VII athlete Allen Wood at Safeway on Market and Church streets Thursday, September 21. Allen was at the store to sign copies of his new cookbook, The Food You Want to Eat and to promote bottles of Robert Mondavi Private Selection wine as part of California Wine Month. Wood, who was injured competing in martial arts at the games, waited a while on his crutches to meet Allen. Asked his advice for a romantic dinner menu, Allen said, “Fried chicken and champagne!”

PR Leap
Fried Chicken and Champagne After Midnight...Why the Hell Not! Max’s Wine Dive Opened December 13
December 15, 2006 Food & Beverage News
(PRLEAP.COM) Houston – Max’s Wine Dive, singled out earlier this year by the Wall Street Journal as “one of the most noteworthy restaurant concepts launching this fall,” announced today that the doors were opened for business on December 13, 2006.

“Max’s is a ‘dive’ that’s fun, funky, eclectic and a complete juxtaposition,” says Jerry Lasco, founder and CEO. “It’s stylish and cool, yet laidback. Rather than pitchers of beer and buckets of peanuts, we’ll be serving fabulous wine and decadent food.”

Houston (TX) Press
Haute Dogs and Hotties
Don’t worry about matching foods and wines at Max’s — just make sure you don’t have chili on your chin

By Robb Walsh
Published on February 21, 2007 at 10:29am
(...)
The slogan on our bartender’s black T-shirt read: “Haute dogs and Shiraz?...I’ll take two!” Other T-shirts worn by employees advertised “Kobe Burgers and Cabernet” and “Fried Chicken and Champagne.” Ever the sucker for a good advertising slogan, I ordered a glass of red wine to go with my hot dog. That was one of several mistakes I made on that visit to Max’s.

Houston (TX) Chronicle
Max’s Wine Dive
Man food to the Max’s

By ALISON COOK
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
March 21, 2007, 2:15PM
Max’s is not a restaurant in any conventional sense of the term, I quickly decided. It’s a bar kinda-sorta pretending to be a restaurant, with a sly wink and a nod to let you know not to get all serious. The brisk young staffers in their sloganeering T-shirts set the tone.

“Fried chicken and champagne. Why the hell not?” read a typical T-shirt.

“Why the hell not?” is the operative principle here. The menu, by chef Jonathan Jones (who won fans at the late, ahead-of-its time Chiasso on Wirt Road), is a jokey document that pushes iconic Texas comfort foods to the artisanal max.

urban bohemian
Posted on 05 June 2007 by brian
Comfort food: Champagne and Fried Chicken
Oh, it’s been one of those days, weeks, months, lives, what have ya. I believe I shall treat myself with some champagne and fried chicken tonight. This is not normally a ritual for one, ideally it’s what I would have a bunch of people over for and we’d watch bad movies or reruns of sci-fi series and we’d love the greasy/salty of the chicken being totally washed down by the crisp/fizzy of the champers…

Your Average White Girl
Friday, August 1, 2008
Max’s Wine Dive
by Andrea Afra
Their motto: ‘Fried chicken and champagne after midnight…why the hell not?’ The mission: Stick to your ribs food that is elegant yet casual at the same time, unassuming surroundings that still murmur class, and a wine list to keep you busy for a while. Max’s Wine Dive is the newest venture to hit the thriving strip along Washington Avenue, a new concept by the founders of the very successful Tasting Room wine cafe. After a long awaited opening, the grill is lit and the corks are popping, as are the customers that have supped and sipped at the new neighborhood dive.  The hefty portions of food are outweighed only by the selection of wine, and together they create a hedonistic, downhome culinary affair.

Wine - Chowhound
Champagne is the best pairing for fried chicken. Foods with fat need a wine with high-acid, and a basic pairing rule that I teach is “bubbles love fat and salt.” It’s the same reason potato chips or pretzels go well with Coca-Cola. For a still wine, choose a high-acid white.
maria lorraine Aug 10, 2008 03:32PM

LTHForum.com
lushwineandspirits
Post subject: Fried Chicken and Champagne at LUSH
Posted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 11:09 am
7-9:30pm
Arguably the best pairing you’ve never tried, fried chicken and Champagne love each other very very much. Chicks and bubbles! Enjoy the lusty embrace of crunchy and moist with bubbly, as well as four full courses of delicious food (call for the full menu). Only our favorite vintage Champagnes will make the cut...already lined up for toasting are the rare vintage Veuve Cliquot 1988 (second release), 1991 Clos de Goisses, 1996 Dom Ruinart, 1998 Henriot Rose, 1999 Paul Bara, 2000 Paul Bara, 2000 Cristal, and 2000 Krug. LUSH staff will pour at least 16 bottles throughout the course of the evening. Reservations are required and strictly limited to 25 guests. Cost is $125, non-refundable, exclusive of tax and tip.
_________________
Lush Wine and Spirits
1257 S Halsted/2232 W Roscoe
312-738-1900/773-281-8888
lushwine.wordpress.com

Luxaholics
Fried Chicken and Champagne?!
Category: Food & Entertaining
posted on 12/31/08 @ 09:00 AM
(...)
The bubbles, acidity and cleanliness of ice-cold champagne and sparkling wine cut through greasy, rich and fatty foods—a perfect complement to French cuisine, heavy Italian-style dishes or any of these:

* Fried chicken
* Mac n’ cheese
* French fries
* Tempura
* Pork tenderloin
* Sushi
* Oysters
* Smoked sturgeon salad
* Orange duck

Austin Restaurant Examiner
“Fried Chicken and champagne? Why the hell not?”
May 12, 9:20 PM
The mantra of Max’s Wine Dive is “Fried chicken and champagne?  Why the hell not?”.  A view toward food and wine like that certainly won’t hurt Max’s chance to become an Austin hot spot.

UrbanDaddy - Chicago
Published July 02, 2009
SPARKLERS
Champagne and Fried Chicken
Fried chicken and champagne are the Sandra Bullock and Jesse James of wine pairings: you can’t explain why, but somehow it just works. So join as Lush pops corks on at least eight of its most spectacular (i.e., expensive) bubblies at a family-style all-you-can-eat buttermilk fried-chicken fest. 411: $75, July 3, Lush Wine and Spirits, 1257 S. Halsted St, 312-738-1900

Austin (TX) American-Statesman
Max’s Wine Dive
As a Houston import raises its voice in Austin, be prepared to raise yours, too

By Mike Sutter
AMERICAN-STATESMAN ARTS CRITIC
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The hardest part about reviewing Max’s Wine Dive, the May-arrival Austin branch of a Houston operation, is deciding between stars and numbers. The American-Statesman gives star ratings to `fine-dining’ places and numerical grades to casual spots. So which one is Max’s?
(...)
So I’ll roll with the noise, the chalkboard-grinding slogan (’Fried chicken and champagne? Why the hell not?’ ) and the flow of down-home dish names - `Max & Cheese,’ `Freekin’ Chicken Fricasse’ - and go with a numerical rating. 

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (1) Comments • Friday, July 17, 2009 • Permalink


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