Shanghai: The Public [formerly Apothecary]

24 Nov

[Edit: As of Dec 2011, Apothecary has been rebranded as The Public due to split in partnership. This visit was made before the change happened. I will try to make another visit to see if there have been any changes to the menu, F&B quality, etc.]

I didn’t plan to come to Apothecary as part of my Shanghai cocktail bar crawl since the original branch is from Beijing and I read better reviews about El Coctel and Alchemist. But a new friend I made in Shanghai raved about its cocktails so off we went, after an awesome meal at Mr & Mrs Bund. It also serves New Orelans Creole style cuisine so they have fried chicken nights on Sunday and other delicious sounding bites like homemade maple-smoked bacon and beignets.

The bar was about half full when we arrived at 10ish but slowly filled up. It felt quite cosy in general but I thought the furniture and the turquoise sofa I was sitting on looked a little…cheap and incongruent with the rest of the decor. If interior is not a key factor for you, then that’s fine. There was also an outdoor patio area.

Like our Mr & Mrs Bund, it has an extremely long menu so it felt like a night of mugging for exams. You can tell the folks behind Apothecary take their drinks very seriously from the way they try to recreate the really classic cocktail recipes, down to the littlest details, yet serve up many interesting modern takes on the originals and also make their own ice, bitters, sodas etc. For the indecisive (like me), cocktail-noob or the plain can’t-be-bothered, you can take your pick from the shortlisted “Auspicious Eight”.

One of their most popular cocktails is The Kind (70 RMB), which is described as a “Tiki-style Moscow Mule variation” made with Ketel One vodka, grapfruit and lime juice, a tad of black pepper, cinammon and lime syrup, house-made ginger beer and soda. I was a little apprehensive about the black pepper as I generally don’t go for cocktails with savoury elements, but decided to try after the waiter egged me on. All the elements came together surprisingly well and the black pepper and cinammon provided a light spicy zing that elevated it from good to great. It’s definitely more exciting and delicious than your regular Moscow Mule.

The hubs had a Dark and Stormy (70 RMB), which was dark rum, house-made ginger beer and lime since he wanted something ginger-ish for digestion. The dark rum tasted of caramel and the ginger beer taste packed a punch and was quite spicy. I thought it was a very good cocktail as well but it’s not for people who dislike the taste of ginger.

We encountered good and earnest service even though they have quite a few bad reviews online, perhaps because we went slightly earlier than peak hour or simply improved. The drinks here were slightly cheaper than Alchemist and El Coctel but they don’t give out complimentary snacks and also rank lowest on ambience, but I did feel their main attraction – the drinks – delivered.

Price: $-$$
Location: Sinan Mansions, Block 2, 4/F, Lane 507 Fuxing Zhong Lu, near Chongqing Lu

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