The new Apoteka, in Thonglor, isn’t attempting to capture all of the charm of the original in Suk 11.
By Paul Cypert
It feels as though we have just covered the original Apoteka as it was first opening its doors to the throngs of expat and hi-society Thais on Sukhumvit’s favorite nightlife soi. But already, the industrial “medicine shop” has birthed an expansion on Bangkok’s ever-changing Thonglor.
You can tell immediately upon arrival that the new Apoteka (from here out ATL) isn’t attempting to capture all of the original’s charm. Where the original has many a nook and cubby in which to escape, hide out, or drink in privacy, ATL is the opposite with all tables out for all to see. In fact most of the restaurant itself is open door to the street along two of its four walls.
There’s less of a 20s opium den-vibe as well, with modern black leather couches and marble countertops that feel more Mad Men than Shanghai-absinthe-chic. It’s not a bad style change; it’s just different if the tiny apothecary aesthetic was what brought you to the original.
If fact the more we explored the more it seemed the name was the only carryover from the original locale. Whereas the Suk 11 spot features nightly live bands typically playing some form of Texas blues or jazz music, ATL is more of a DJ spot with smooth grooves coming out of the digital decks (some impromptu full on dance nights have been known to take place).
The menu has also changed extensively. To be fair, when we first visited the original location, the new chef had only been employed for two days, so they were still in the midst of finalizing the menu. But ATL already has a clearer vision for their menu and things are executed at a higher level. The food in general feels less clunky and more refined than what was coming out of the original, where to be honest we were much more impressed with the mixed drinks (would take friends elsewhere for food, but then bring them in here for an espresso martini after).
We were suitably impressed with the smoked salmon and capers on thinly toasted bread, and the BBQ riblets came off the bone with ease.
The drink menu is a solid one and features some of my favorite spirits (Hendricks Gin Cocktails) and will most likely remain a solid place to sample a mixed drink for some time to come. For those new to Thailand, historically beer and at best a “black soda” (JW Black with soda water) were the only drinks you could hope to get when on a night-out due to the lack of consistency of the average Bangkok bartender and the time it would take them to make a drink.
ATL is a place where you can come have a proper mixed drink and be assured that it’ll come out the same way the next time you order it. That might sound like a no-brainer, but they’re only one of a handful pulling it off currently (and we’re including some high-end hotels in our list of those who fail). If it surpasses the original is up for you to decide. It’s definitely worth visiting on a night-out though. Sit, relax, and watch the Thonglor street traffic pass by and enjoy a properly poured Old Fashioned.
Sukhumvit 55, Thonglor 12 (BTS: Thonglor)