One night, after gorging on our favorite Shanghainese soup dumplings, my friends and I decided go around the corner to Doyer's Street for a quick nightcap at Apotheke. Apotheke is one of my favorite speakeasies in the city, hidden in the middle of Chinatown and disguised as just another Chinese restaurant. To our surprise, the door was locked—very odd at 8:30pm on a rain-soaked Wednesday. After stubbornly pulling at the knob a few times, the door finally cracked open and we found ourselves face-to-face with an intimidating bouncer.
"What's the password?"
"Uh ... please?" my friend Kim attempted.
He laughed and replied, "Maybe that works for your mom but that won't get you in."
"Is there a private party tonight?" I asked in confusion. I had been to Apotheke many times before and never needed a password to enter.
"It's Prohibition Wednesday so you need a password to get in. It's on the website ... but I can give you a clue," he hastened to add, seeing our crestfallen faces. "It's an animal and the sound that animal makes."
"Tiger ... Rawr!" burst out our cute blond Swede Mimi, causing the bouncer to erupt in laughter.
"No, that's not it. But you're very close."
"Cat's meow!" Kim exclaimed.
"You got it!"
With those two magical words, we walked in and instantly felt that we had been transported back into the roaring 20s. This lovely band of flappers seemed straight out of the prohibition era with their pincurls and heady jazz music.
At the bar, the drink list was a blast from the past, listing cocktails adapted mixology books dating as far back as 1869. The drink I chose was one of the older ladies on the list, inspired by a recipe dating back to 1887: the Peg Flip. It contained vodka (which marks the first time I've tasted the spirit in an artisanal bar setting), fresh pear, advocaat (a creamy liqueur made out of eggs, sugar and brandy), sugar, egg white and cinnamon. It tasted like a cinnamon bun in a glass. I wanted to take it home for the holidays and introduce it to my parents as my significant other. Yum.
We only stayed for one drink but that unexpectedly wonderful night at Apotheke made me fall in love with this spot all over again. I can't wait to come back for more time warp experiences.
Living in a city that keeps finding new ways to surprise me—that's definitely part of my happily ever.
Apotheke is located at 9 Doyers Street, New York, NY.
(Image source: New York Observer)