The word “unassuming” doesn’t even begin to cover it. New York City’s Apothéke—a lauded apothecary-themed cocktail hotbed—finally made its way to the West Coast after a decade slinging tonics, botanics and infusions in NYC, but you’d never know it driving by. Blink and you’ll miss this tiny, unmarked white brick building that practically sits under a bridge next to the L.A. River. Just around the bend from David Chang’s Majordōmo, in a corner of a development project in Chinatown’s warehouse district, L.A.’s own Apothéke is a gem hiding in plain sight.
Outside it’s fairly barren, and neighboring a dirt lot. Inside, it’s nothing but class.
“Watching people walk in is a huge pleasure for me,” says experience director Luiz Tuazon. “Their eyes pop out a little bit, then the phones come out, they take photos, they turn the corner [onto the patio], then the same thing happens again.”
Sconces made from scientific boiling flasks hold infused herbal tinctures that glow in the lamplight. The wood beams of a double gable roof hang overhead. Reclaimed pine floors form stylish squares with tile inlays. The interior, similar to its NYC sibling, is a Biedermeier-revival dream with its ornate wooden furniture, velvet cushions, cascading velvet curtains and tufted wallpaper. And at the center of it all is a glowing, 40-inch marble bar.
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he force behind the stellar design is founder and owner Christopher Tierney himself, a man who spent more than two years hunting for the right L.A. location for his West Coast outpost. Now it’s open to the public and offering herbal- and wellness-minded cocktails, as well as one of the best patios in the city.
Much like in New York, Apothéke’s menu is laid out like an apothecary: There are six sections—Health & Beauty, Pain Killers, Stimulants, Aphrodisiacs, Euphoric Enhancers and Stress Relievers—each sporting three cocktails, each drink priced at $16. In Health & Beauty, you’ll find ingredients such as kale, quinoa vodka, fresh carrot juice and apple. In Stress Relievers, you might spot vodka infused with lavender.
“It’s very similar [to NYC’s menu] but it’s all new in the sense that it’s a little more produce-forward and a little more bright,” says Tierney. “The whole style that Nick [O’Connor, head mixologist] came up with it really letting the produce speak first at the front of the drinks, and the botanicals and infused spirits come through in the second half. Whereas in New York, it’s a little more the other way around.”
On the patio, a marble horseshoe bar serves the same menu, but with a view of the river and an occasional Metro train speeding by. A number of outdoor concerts are already slated for the lot next door, which you’ll be able to witness from Apothéke’s stunner of a deck.
Of course the bar also hosts its own performances, regularly filling both indoor and outdoor spaces with things like DJ sets, small acoustic shows and jazz duets.
Starting next Sunday, April 8, you can expect regular Sunday daytime hours, plus an eventual snack menu and eight or so non-alcoholic drinks that follow the Apothéke ethos: inspired by health and herbal cures for ailments, heavy on the produce and artful preparation.
“In Los Angeles, the juice culture and tonics and wellness are really big right now, and our approach has always been to blend those worlds with alcohol,” says O’Connor. “With this new location, with California and the produce, we want to make it a whole experience.”