If you and your friends are known to drop some hard-earned moola at stylish New York cocktail bars every now and then, take the opportunity to learn how to make those fancy cocktails yourselves at one of the city’s hippest lounges, Apotheke. An Apotheke Academy mixology class will give you the skills you need to turn your next night in with friends into an evening of bespoke cocktails, so grab a few bar buddies and get shaking.
With visions of sugar-rimmed daiquiris dancing in your heads, head to Chinatown’s Bloody Angle, a once-seedy block where Tong gangs battled with hatchets and guns. Fortunately, that was a century ago. Now one of Manhattan’s trendiest areas, it’s where you’ll find Apotheke, an apothecary-inspired mixology bar where every drink is prepared with local and organic produce–in some cases plucked that very day from the rooftop garden. Once you walk through the door and down the stairs, you feel like you’ve crossed into another era as you survey the beautiful European-style furnishings and antique pressed-tin ceiling.
Dozens of large medicine bottles line the shelves behind the pale marble bar. The place’s whitewashed brick, Victorian couches, and antique tile embellishments will have you imagining the rumble of carriages on the street above. Dressed like 19th Century pharmacists, your mixology instructors scan the crowd and announce they are ready to prepare the perfect formula. You and your crew don white coats of your own and stifle a laugh at your new looks before stepping up to the bar. Each tool you’ll use is explained and demonstrated beforehand, so you feel comfortable with the hardware before you even decide what cocktail to create.
The passion with which each mixologist crafts his drinks is evident with every measure and pour, and your hands itch to make your own. Soon, you have your chance. You are guided through the whole process, from carefully selecting the spirits, mixers, and fruits you’ll use to choosing the perfect glass for both presentation and aromatics. Though you’re tempted to toss in all the fresh, beautiful kiwis, peaches, limes, and pomegranates you see before you, stick to the advice of your guides and use everything in moderation to achieve the perfect balance. They’re the pros, after all.
You’ll feel your cocktail confidence rise as you mix the contents together in your shaker and slowly pour your potion into a glass. Your initial urge is to drink up immediately, but take a few seconds to admire your handiwork — and take a few pictures — before calling out, “Cheers!” and finally bringing the glass to your lips. The taste is second only to the rush of satisfaction you feel from a job well done.
Someone in your group offers the excellent suggestion of having a party to show off your new cocktail-making skills, so pick up your own full-service mixology kit on your way out. Now that you’ve learned the craft from one of the hippest bars in New York City, your standard rum and cola just isn’t going to cut it.
Photo by Apotheke