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Published August 25, 2008

Doctor's Orders
Your New Chinatown Drug Den

Admit it: Nightlife used to be sexier.

Not in the age of cosmos or the Limelight. But once upon a time, an adventurous gentleman could duck down to Chinatown for an illicit drink...or a bit more.

Here to resurrect that scene is Apotheke—a former opium den now trafficking slightly less controlled substances downtown.

Unless you're well-acquainted with the less savory parts of Chinatown, you won't find Apotheke unaided. Turn down tiny Doyers Street—dubbed the "Bloody Angle" for its once fierce Chinese mob wars—and find the red awning that says "Gold Flower Restaurant." Open the door and you'll discover a surprisingly sexy and spacious candlelit lounge with all manner of apothecary paraphernalia a la Dr. Jekyll's Victorian-era lair.

Mad cocktail scientist Albert Trummer will be behind the five-ton marble bar every night along with three other "doctors," waiting with century-old bottles, beakers and distillers to cure what ails you. Sample a truffle-infused Louis XIII sidecar or agave extract pulque from Mexico (preserved, per tradition, in a cow's stomach) or a margarita with Himalayan pink salt and ice flown in from Alaska.

Should the tenor of the night rise above a discreet pitch, the front doors will close—but those in the know will have a key to the side entrance for all-hours access. Just don't wander downstairs; behind a locked door slashed with Chinese characters, you may hear whispers from a serious underground hangout and game room flanked by old mob tunnels.

Your penchant for the underground only goes so far.
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Oleg March