An Interview With Apothecary's Fung Lik Hang & Austen Lendrum
What is the inspiration behind Apothecary?
Fung Lik Hang: Inspired by the unique flavours of various medicinal herbs, we were looking to make an impact and show the world our love for the beautiful flavours that these botanicals can highlight in the form of cocktails. For as long as I've known, many cuisines have used these ingredients, but yet often times when I used to talk to people about my love for certain herbaceous and spicy flavours, it was closely associated to medicine. We're trying to remove that stigma, which is quite difficult but we're confident we'll be able to do it.
How does head mixologist Joe Wong curate his cocktail menus?
Austen Lendrum: Joe Wong has a brilliant mind and a good understanding of culinary techniques due to his previous work experience in pastry and cooking. Through this and his thirst for experimentation, he is always striving to figure out ways to extract and combine odd flavours together and make them work. He usually brings out reminiscent flavours from his childhood or flavour concepts that he has always been interested to try, but never had the chance or the equipment to do so. More often than not he would propose a cocktail to both LH and I which would blow our minds, and we know it will blow yours too!
How has your combined experiences at previous bars supported your ventures at Apothecary?
AL: I would say that everything I have done and experienced throughout my career has led me to this point. I went through the ranks from barback all the way to where I am now, and I feel that is extremely important, as I am able to understand each role and position and how to operate in the best way possible. With LH having 7 years of experience, and being an assistant manager not too long after his employment, he has a clear understanding of managerial techniques and has acquired an eye for talent. With our combined knowledge and our desire to push past what we think is our limit, we always try to be the best version of ourselves and bring it into the Apothecary.
What are your top three cocktail recommendations for first timers?
AL: The Newton’s Punch is our variation of the milk punch. With a profile being nut forward with dried fruit notes, it is a smooth and well balanced cocktail that we are very proud to showcase.
Newton’s Punch - Peanut oil fat washed chestnut monkey shoulder blended scotch, Calvados, Disaronno, Drambuie, Fino Sherry, Angostura Bitters, Apple, Lapsang Souchong, Lemon.
If you want to go for a unique experience of both savoury and refreshing, I highly recommend our Wolfpeach Highball. We clarify and carbonate tomato juice, which brings out a sweet fruity side of the tomato, paired with the flavour of Umeshu (plum wine), apple and an earthy tone of shisho. This cocktail is definitely something that would open your palate and ask for seconds!
Wolfpeach Highball - The botanist dry gin, dry shiso slow cooked umeshu, apple, fino sherry, house tomato soda, salted plum powder.
One of my favourites on our menu, Kaldi and the Dancing Goats, is a refreshing cocktail that is coffee and quinine forward, with a bit of grapefruit flavours from the grapefruit soda and a hint of passionfruit. It is paired with our homemade dark chocolate garnish, this is something I can drink all night long.
Kaldi and the Dancing Goats - Tanqueray gin, rapid infused coffee sweet vermouth, passion fruit cordial, london essence original indian tonic, three cents grapefruit soda.
What can we look forward to next?
LH: We have several big things in the making as of right now! Without spoiling too much, our current menu is narrated as 'The Herbalists' Notebook', which is a compendium of myths and legends surrounding the various ingredients used in the cocktails, illustrated in a format much akin to note writing and our drink making process. The next menu will be very different – expect philosophy, and some form of physical phenomena – and will probably come sooner than you think.
Aside from that, there's an idea floating around that may or may not be executed soon, but that's not confirmed as of yet, although it very likely will happen somewhere between 2023/2024. We'll reveal more about that as the time comes!
Apothecary, 3A, Carfield Commercial Building, 75-77 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2893 8233