The lao wei
are still aflutter over Chinatown's hottest cocktail den, one that has created possibly the most buzz south of Canal Street since Cab Calloway's Smokey Joe took Minnie the Moocher down to "kick the gong" in Chinatown. In truth, Austrian-born Albert Trummer has hit all the right notes with his Apotheke, perhaps the natural evolution and vast improvement on the former Barmacy
theme that proved so successful on East 14th Street. Think mad scientist meets mixologist meets opium dispensary, full of fancy laboratory gear to emphasize the medicinal qualities of Trummer's nine types of cocktails:
Health and Beauty
With "over 250 house cocktails and 500 bottles of liquor from around the world," this is indeed impressive. Just bear in mind that unfortunately today's Absinthe likely won't make you insane, though perhaps the price of cocktails here might. Nevertheless, at roughly $15 each we find the cocktails a fair value as their ingredients are carefully sourced, and mixing the various decoctions and concotions is done with great art and skill.
Our favorite recipes are for the James Bond as well as a few we invented on the fly—we asked our mixologist to create a drink including three kinds of ginger, one drink using two kinds of anise and fennel, and another one we simply declared should be the "Chinatown Special". They were all superb. After enjoying about a dozen marvelous creations, we finally called it quits. Our advice: do not hesitate to simply declare what ingredients/flavors you might like in your drinks.
Before you become completely blotto, however, do ensure you stumble around Doyers Street, the crookedest street in Manhattan. Over one hundred years ago in 1907, the New York Times
reported that "In all New York City, there is not a more disreputable street than Pell Street nor a more forbidding cow-path than Doyers Street." Together, these lanes were "cesspools of immorality vile enough to bring a curse upon the entire community."