Has anyone been to Apotheke in Chinatown?
What I've read sounds like it's pretty gimmicky. Is it worth a try?
I went last weekend (Sat) and was pleasantly surprised. It's a lovely space and there was no issue getting in - and once in it was not at all packed. We were there around 11pm so perhaps that was still early? The doorman was managing entry a little - in particular stopping large groups and male-only groups from going in. Couples or small groups of women didn't seem to have any problem.
Mixed review on drinks - started off badly with my first cocktail having a rather heavy-handed splash of orange oil/essence mixed in that seemed to coat my entire mouth and sting my lips. I didn't finish it. I persevered with a second option - a sparkling berry concoction that was absolutely delicious and just right.
Nice atmosphere that didn't strike me as too LES/Chinatown hipster (though that may come!). Friendly staff though service isn't perfect yet.
No sign of food.
A few of us (all women) went there a week after opening. I think it was too soon. The doorman was nice, but said because we didn't have reservations we couldn't sit, but were welcome to go to the bar. There were about five drinks on offer and that was it. The patrons inside seemed quite exclusive, and we just got a bad vibe. We plan to give it another chance, but will make reservations this time to be safe. Obviously we didn't stay. There's nothing like walking through Chinatown in the evening on a rainy day, only to be told we can't sit.
re: small h
i went tonight, early, with a friend of mine who is pretty deep into the cocktail world. We have been to a lot of the places in NY and Washington, DC together...and we both loved it.
The space itself is pretty remarkable, stylistically speaking. Cool without seeming pretentious or trying to hard. It just was very artfully done.
The drinks, while the most expensive of all the cocktail bars ($15) were good. I found them to be very well balanced. Of the four I tried, none were too sweet or too acidic or too bitter. They were on point.
It is definitely worth checking out if you are into the cocktail lounge. But again, I went at 8 pm, so I have no idea what the ambiance gets like later. It was very chill, friendly, and not the least bit over-the-top on the hipster factor.
Went on a Monday and it looks great, but if you like cocktails I would wait a while before trying it. I think they're still working out a LOT of kinks. The room is beautiful, but it's that fussy hipster grandma style (see: The Box, Freeman's) that's all the rage right now, which some people hate. But if you like Freeman's then this place will look great to you.
The problem is the staff: they seemed overwhelmed, unable to handle simple drink requests and I think they need more time to get this cocktail menu under their belts. The menu was tiny, around 12 cocktails total, and none of them were the ones they've been bragging about (their absinthe cocktail, the Fire and Ice, the health oriented cocktails). We tried about 7 different cocktails and results varied. The best tasting was the Five Points. Most of the others were okay but not great. The Melon Ball was watery and blah. The gin with micro-cilantro in it tasted interesting but not very good. Some cocktails were super-potent, while others tasted almost alcohol free.
The worst was going off the cocktail menu. A Bloody Mary request was met with a "we can't make that." And a simple martini wound up being really weird. They substituted Bombay Sapphire gin for the gin that was requested without informing me, (plus: Bombay Sapphire tastes awful to me), it was warm (room temperature), and it came in an enormous Sex&theCity sized martini goblet rather than in the proper small glass. Olives were requested but not provided for some reason. If I was at a party and picked up someone else's half-finished martini that had been sitting on a side table for a while, this is what I would have expected to drink. For a place that's supposed to specialize in cocktails, and a place that had other tables filled but was by no means crowded, this was sort of a damning lack of attention to a classic cocktail that I thought was sort of the omelette of the bar tending world.
I'd give it another month or two to get their sea legs before trying it if anyone's interested.
PS - did not seem overly hipster/sceney/scary. The crowd was pretty sedate, but I was there early.
At $18 a cocktail, you'd better appreciate a well crafted cocktail, and the stuck-up NYC trendy bar scene. If that's your interest, this is the place for you.