Hong Kong boasts one of the most dynamic dining scenes on the planet, filled with culinarians and tastemakers galore. In our Cheat Day column, we spotlight some of the top players in the kitchen and behind the bar, delving into their personal favourites during their days off. This week, we speak to Austen Lendrum of Apothecary.
Austen Lendrum, previously of Foxglove and Honi Honi, may be one of our bar scene’s most charismatic individuals. He’ll draw you in with his hearty laughs, then hook you with one of his many incredible concoctions.
Apothecary was launched just this summer by Lendrum and a few partners, and, as the name might suggest, is a bar that aims to focus on herb-and-spice forward cocktails, rewiring the perception that medicinal flavours are unsavoury.
“I’m blessed to be brought into this amazing concept through my business partner Fung Lik Hang. I am in charge of such an awe-inspiring team,” he says. “We also put a bit of focus on the extraction of flavours with old and newer techniques. Joe Wong who is, in my point of view, an absolute genius, comes from a pastry-culinary background, which has helped him acquire some very useful methods of playing with flavours.”
Tucked away on the third floor of Wyndham Street, this bar may not be the most visible, but it’ll be one you’ll want to add to your boozy rotation.
What is your signature drink at Apothecary? Tell us about it.
We have a few signature cocktails, but if I were to single one out, I would say “As Luck Would Have It” is the one to try. It’s a delicious and booze-heavy Scotch-based cocktail using Talisker 10, which we infuse with our homemade pomelo and grapefruit marmalade, Fernet Hunter Granit, Fino Sherry, Lapsang Souchong tincture with a seaweed powdered half rim. Somewhat similar to an Old Fashioned, this cocktail has a nice tartness, smokiness and depth. A cocktail that will bring you to Scotland with the scent of sea spray and mouth-watering peated Scotch.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve had a few people in my life who have given me great professional advice, one in particular was when I was still in my early days at Honi Honi Tiki Lounge. I was having a couple of beers after a tough Friday night service, listening to Maxence Traverse and Fabien Marcault talking over each other trying to give me a piece of their past experiences.
What I managed to get out of that was, “When people walk in the bar, you are the first person they will see and the last person they see; you are the brand and the host. The bar is your stage and you are the main event, so make sure to show them a good time!”
Which are your five go-to dishes/drinks in restaurants or bars in Hong Kong?
If I were to make a list, I would start it off with the amazing and notorious Ancho Highball at COA. I order this every time I step into the mini-Mexico of Hong Kong. If you know me, you know I absolutely love a good highball, especially when it’s got a nice chili kick and is made with tequila!
After that would be the Bloody Caesar at Bar Buonasera in Tsim Sha Tsui. I absolutely am a fan of Bloody Marys, but having it made in the Japanese way with sweet Japanese tomatoes, yes please!
The Blinker Highball is a favourite of mine whenever I step into The Diplomat. With a hint of raspberries that has been sous vide into rye whiskey, refreshing celery bitters and grapefruit soda and Fernet Hunter to bind everything together, this cocktail definitely keeps me coming back for more.
If you have the time to go to Gough Street, please make sure to visit Zagin Soba; their chicken broth Tsukemen is most likely one of my favourite dishes in Hong Kong. The broth is so rich with flavour, you can’t get enough of it! It’s a place I bring people to impress them, and so far, it’s always worked!
Another new favourite of mine is the Fish Tostada at Awa Awa, a recently opened Okinawan inspired restaurant. It’s pretty much a fish taco done incredibly right. I think I ordered extras when I first visited, and I’m craving another bite soon!
Apothecary, 3A, Carfield Commercial Building, 75-77 Wyndham Street, Central, +852 2893 8233