I never touched the equipment in my high school chemistry lab for two reasons. The first was that I grew up watching The Muppets, in which Beaker, the poor schmuck of a lab assistant, inevitably gets tortured in Dr Bunsen Honeydew’s experiments. The second was that one of my classmates spilled acid on his crotch one day and we never saw him again. Needless to say I valued my own equipment far too much to ever get near the school’s.
So when I sit at the bar counter at EDV Apothecary and watch the barman clamp some beakers onto a laboratory retort stand, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cross my legs.
Located right outside Eau De Vie (in the corridor leading up to it), EDV Apothecary is run by Phil Gandevia (aka Dr Phil), whose encyclopaedic knowledge of cocktail lore is almost as terrifying as the science equipment. However, although the drinks are prepared in vials and beakers, the main emphasis is on using botanicals – even the iced water here is infused with beetroot.
The most unusual cocktail is the What’s Up Doc (see pic below), a concoction that somehow creates beautiful alchemy from mixing pickled carrots, ginger and tequila – and I say this as someone who believes vegetables should have no part in cocktails (I even refuse to have celery in my Bloody Marys).
My favourite drink, though, is the Hot Retort (the pic below shows it being prepared). Made with butter-scotched scotch, persimmon, pear, citrus, winter-spiced agave, dandelion and burdock and chocolate, this is like a pimped-up hot herbal toddy.
EDV Apothecary makes the average small bar look spacious – this is essentially a bar that’s set up in a hotel corridor – but my elegant drinking companion and I are happy to perch on bar stools, and there are also a handful of private booths built for two behind curtains. If you’re adventurous and can snag a seat (the cautious can always reserve in advance), then EDV Apothecary is worth a visit – even if you do have a fear of Bunsen burners.
EDV Apothecary, 229 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst (in the ground floor foyer of the Kirketon Hotel). Open Thursday to Saturday. See the Apothecary Facebook page