Thursday, February 5, 2009

Apothéke me

As Molly and I struggled in the snow, wandering from my apartment in the Lower East Side into the depths of Chinatown and finally down a dark and deserted alley, we started to wonder whether we'd gotten ourselves totally lost.

An old Chinese man suddenly whooshed past us on his bicycle, shouting something while frantically pointing to an obscure door with a red Gold Flower Restaurant sign above it. We had heard this bar was unmarked so we took our chances and peeked inside the massive, old wooden door.

If you've ever wanted to travel back to a 19th century absinthe-and-opium den, then look no further than Apothéke, a cocktail bar that's modeled after medieval European apothecaries. There's the ceiling painted with gold leaf, red velvet loungers, candle-lit exposed brick walls, and the tincture-filled jars with herbs marinating in absinthe.

Stunning? A little bit, yes.

After we finally found the hidden entrance, we didn't think the bar could get any more mysterious. But, we later found out that Apothéke's mixologist, Albert Trummer, has been known to give a secret key to his favorite customers, so they can access the bar via an unmarked door in an underground passageway - how very Narnia.

The list of over 250 specialty cocktails is divided into categories such as Health and Beauty (containing cucumber, rose water, floral notes), Stress Relief (lavender and sage), Pain Killers (cayenne, habanero), Stimulants (espresso, Red Bull), Aphrodisiacs (Champagne, cognac), and Pharmaceuticals (herbal elixers)

The House Absinthe is supposedly made using a secret 200-year-old recipe that involves fermented sugarcane juice, however we might leave that for when we're feeling a little braver - the cocktails were potent enough.

9 Doyers St, New York, NY

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