NYC Bar Dispenses 'Cures' for Modern-Day Ailments

Apotheke is a bar-cum-apothecary hidden in New York Citys Chinatown.Courtesy Thomas Schauer 2007
Apotheke is a bar-cum-apothecary hidden in New York City's Chinatown.

If your preferred remedy for stress is a good, strong cocktail, then Albert Trummer is an ideal pharmacist.

Trummer is the owner of Apotheke, a bar-cum-apothecary hidden in New York City's Chinatown. A self-described "Bar chef," Trummer makes drinks to treat a variety of different kinds of health ailments. Watching his staff work dressed in their white lab coats, is not unlike witnessing mad scientists in a chemistry lab. They mix each drink with precision, using an eye dropper to dispense just the right amount of bitters.

The bartenders here say they are preparing pain relievers by mixing alcohol with fresh herbs such as sage and lavender, which are said to promote relaxation. Chinese goat leaf herbs are combined with Guatemalan rum and sugar cane in the "Goat Leaf Doctor," a digestive that claims to stimulate and energize.

Outfitted like an old world apothecary, the bar displays various beakers and pharmacy scales. Lining the shelves are different-sized bottles filled with herbal liquors and botanicals collected from Trummer's travels around the world.

"When I was a little kid we always went to Vienna to this old, royal apothecary… and it was kind of a very mystical experience, where you had to wait for your pharmacist and your druggist to write your prescription," says Trummer.

"My idea was to bring that element of the apothecary into the modern world of cocktailing . . . where you mix medicinal herbs, botanicals… to create a most beautiful drink," he adds.

Though the supposed remedies are steeped in tradition, there is no substantive medical research that supports any of these health claims.

Bar mixes herbs in its drinks

Apotheke's elixirs are divided into categories such as "Pain Killers," "Euphoric Enhancers" and "Health & Beauty." And given the turbulent times, business has been good, Trummer says.

"Lately, we have a lot of Wall Street people coming in and they talking about problems [sic]. We want to give our customer that kind of hour that they can really relax and have also the right dose of alcohol so they can relieve their stress and their pain," he says.

Trummer offered the recipe for one of his custom drinks, the "Decompressor," which he says is an aperitif intended to melt away post-work stress.

"Everyone can make this drink at home, using ingredients found in your local liquor store," says Trummer.

Apotheke's "Decompressor"

1 oz. Benedictine liquor
1 oz. Grand Marnier
2 oz. Campari
2 oz. Sloe Gin
Dash of Angostura bitters