Creative Cocktails with The Apothecary

Intoxicating infusions & mischievous mixtures with The Apothecary

Cocktail o’clock is always a good idea, but cocktails with a vintage Victorian twist? Well it would be rude not to. TOAST chats to Mark Andrews, founder and director of pop-up cocktail emporium The Apothecary, to learn all about their mischievous mixology and to glean his top tips on how to create some tasty tinctures of your own, including a truly tantalizing recipe to try at home.

Nothing quite gets the party started like a batch of tasty cocktails freshly mixed, muddled, shaken and stirred before your guests very eyes, but The Apothecary pop-up bar and cocktail emporium goes one better. Not content with a standard bar serving up the usual rostra of martinis and margaritas, Mark Andrews decided to get creative.

During the years I’ve worked in the events industry I’ve witnessed many tired and unimaginative ‘mobile bar’ setups, usually featuring token neon lights, mojitos and flaring bartenders!” laughs Mark.

“I felt the need to create something fresh and different. My aim was to take all the best qualities of my favourite boutique cocktail bars – the attention to detail, beautiful presentation, unique cocktail recipes and a sophisticated theme - and reproduce that luxury in a ‘mobile bar’ scenario.”

And so as you can imagine, The Apothecary is not your usual offering; it is in fact a unique, vintage-themed drinking experience that can delight your guests withintoxicating infusions and mischievous mixtures’ all served from a beautiful hand-made wooden bar styled around a Victorian apothecary, complete with uniformed staff, authentic props and thoughtful decor that all match the theme.

The Apothecary Bar Poised

“During the time I was setting up the business I happened to be gong through a particularly intense phase of watching old school westerns, which apparently had a big influence on the style…!” laughs Mark.

“I had been passionate about wild food and foraging for years and I have always loved the sophistication and theatre surrounding the making and drinking of cocktails, and so I guess The Apothecary offered a medium through which I could express these interests and share my knowledge.” 

Back in ye olde days, an apothecary would have been the go-to for anyone suffering from health problems or worries; pop in, explain your symptoms and you would be provided with a bespoke elixir or 'cure-all'. Mark decided to adapt that idea, and made it purely pleasure based; the luxurious handmade dark wooden bar is festooned with vintage bottles and jars, antique glassware and elegant ice buckets, chemistry-style paraphernalia (for mixing up curious cocktails, of course), atmospheric lamps and props, leafy plants, large feathers and plenty of other fascinating curiosities.

“I really felt that the fashion and aesthetic of the 19th century lent itself perfectly to a magical cocktail experience! Many of the famous stories from that era, such as Jekyll & Hyde, feature potions, experiments and alchemy - and I think it goes well with our approach to creating and presenting the products.”

Apothecray Barman

The Apothecary Bar Mixology 

As well as the styling of the bar itself, The Apothecary takes service and presentation very seriously too and the results are not just delicious to taste but also captivating to watch. Mark and his team like to put on a show whilst they mix up their puzzling potions, and don't be alarmed if your drink starts to smoke and or changes colour whilst you drink it…

“I do try to think outside the box and use my imagination when it comes to presentation. We have ‘Drink Me’ potions served in miniature corked bottles, smoking Mexican Midget shots with Corona beer foam and a sharing cocktail served in an ostrich egg amongst many others!” explains Mark. 

“We also try to recreate a bit of the past with authentic sounds, tastes and smells. There really aren't many places you can be served a Smoking Strawberry Daiquiri by a moustached bartender in a top hat and waist coat whilst listening to the sound of a live fiddle player!” he adds.

The Apothecary Bar Top

Apothecary Bar Couple

The Apothecary Bar Glassware Set

Another unique taste bud tickler is Smoked Chesnut Old Fashioned, made using a twice charcoal mellowed Gentleman Jack whiskey and The Apothecary’s own home-smoked Chestnut liqueur with orange bitters, and there’s also the mouth-watering Caramelized Fig Sour made with vanilla spiced rum, lemon juice, sugar, cherry bitters, fig liqueur and egg white, served over crushed ice with a caramelized fig foam and air dried fig slice. Yes please.  

We really want to create the ‘wow’ factor for guests. The team who work on and around the bar are chosen carefully - they know their stuff and they are also the kind of people you would like to have at a party, so that makes for exceptional service and a lively atmosphere. The service is as much about the products as it is about the presentation,” says Mark.

And he really means it. No detail has been left unconsidered, and it’s not just The Apothecary’s presentation that’s imaginative and out of the ordinary; Mark is incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about all of the individual ingredients that make up their tasty tinctures too, giving The Apothecary’s unique offering a further edge. Thanks to Mark’s passion for cooking and experimenting with flavours, combined with his knowledge of wild ingredients and foraging and his interest in weird and wonderful spirits and brews from around the world, many of the spirits, liqueurs and syrups served by The Apothecary are completely exclusive, as they are made ‘in house’ using various experimental techniques that combine wild-foraged ingredients with some more conventional flavours.

“Each recipe on the menu is completely original and you will certainly end up experiencing flavours and trying ingredients you have never tasted, or possibly even heard of, before!” he enthuses.

“I like to use combinations of ingredients that together set a scene or perhaps are found in the same environment - for example, one of my favourites is the Forest Fire. It’s made from Lapsang Souchong (which smells like woodsmoke) infused whiskey, douglas fir honey syrup and our homemade Sea Buckthorn liqueur. I feel like it’s the cocktail equivalent of sitting around a campfire in an autumnal forest!”

The Apothecary Bar Cocktails

The Apothecary’s travelling pop up bar can be found at weddings, festivals, corporate events and private parties across the UK, and is ideal for hosts that are looking for something out of the ordinary that provides not only delicious drinks, but also a touch of vintage style and captivating theatre at the same time.

“I was recently commissioned to create a bespoke bar for an event in Paris - the theme was ‘COSMOS’ and we really went to town with the extravagance and the special effects. Everything on the bar was smoking and steaming and the guests were treated to a real show!” enthuses Mark.

“I love the variety of my work - we travel all around the UK and beyond constantly meeting new people to share the experience with. From a Halloween ball in an abandoned church to a fashion shows in Paris, we never know where we will end up next!”

At an event that I am a guest at this summer I am hoping, but in the meantime, here are Mark’s top tips for creating your own Apothecary-style cocktail creations at home, and you can find his recipe for their most popular, signature cocktail - the Sloe & Steady - over on TheEdit now. 

Mark's Top Tips For Tasty Tinctures  

  • Flavour

    The art of making a good cocktail lies in choosing flavours that compliment each other and then finding the right balance between them. Start by borrowing simple tried and tested flavour combinations from familiar desert dishes (Apple Crumble - apple, cinnamon) and adapting them for cocktail recipes. You will soon get a feel for what works and what doesn't.

  • Presentation

    Do your homework on glassware. It’s really important that you serve the right drink in the right kind of glass.

  • Garnish

    Try to choose a garnish that has some relevance to the theme or relates to the ingredients in your cocktail and that helps tie them all together.

If you want to try one of Mark's incredible creations then head over to TheEdit for one of his top recipes. 

For contact details and more information about The Apothecary you can also visit their page in TOAST’s Little Black Book


Posted in Spotlight

by Sophie Farrah
on on 27 April 2017

  cocktail hour, creative cocktails, mixology

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