Introducing The 'Shoreditch Izakaya' Serving Up Wicked Cocktails & Japanese Small Plates

Published . By Jasmine Lee Kennedy.

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While we all know that East London isn’t short of slinky cocktail bars and restaurants, that doesn’t stop us from getting excited when we hear word of a new one. Found at the top of Charlotte Road, just off the bustling Great Eastern Street, Apothecary's vibe is inspired by Tokyo nightlife, offering casual drinks, Japanese nibbles and cosy decor. And now? It's up there as one of my new favourite finds.

Apothecary Shoreditch London | DesignMyNight

The decor mirrored the stylings of contemporary Japanese interior design.

As you step through the front doors, your eyes are caught by the glamorous bar, as well as the buzzing tables sipping colourful mixes. But as we were eating, we were led through the venue to a more relaxed dining area at the back that was overlooked by the open robata kitchen. The decor felt snazzy yet minimalist, featuring bare-brick walls, blown-glass pendant lights and a few cute tropical plants peppered about. We sat in an intimate, rounded booth that had plush leather seating and - I'm not gonna lie - hella flattering lighting (yes, I did sneak a few snaps).

While the place started to pack out, we decided to quench our thirst with a couple of zen gardens (£11 each), which was a heady mix of Roku gin, green tea, shiso, lime and minerals (not sure what that last one meant, but I liked it). This was beautifully presented in a delicate wine glass, garnished with an adorable origami crane. My verdict? Utterly delicious; it was crisp and botanical - a bit like a zingy gimlet. Gimme another.

Apothecary East London | DesignMyNight

Both the zen garden and the blackened salmon were absolutely delish.

Next up, I went for a maiko (£10). This married Absolute vodka, triple sec, beetroot, lime and a pomegranate molasses shrub, and arrived in a coupette-style glass with a dusting of raspberry powder around the rim. It was rich, sweet and moreish. At the same time, my pal went for one of the noir plots (£11), which was a combo of El Gobernador pisco, blackberry wine, cassis and cacao blanc. It came in a wine glass with a shard of white chocolate attached; she mentioned how the flavour of the choccie complemented the fruity tartness of the drink deliciously.

At this point, our stomachs started to rumble, so our attention turned to the food menu. With so many delicious things on offer, we weren't sure what to go for, so we asked the chef to choose. The result? A feast that began with a bowl of lotus crisps (£3.5) accompanied by a spicy siracha-like dip, followed by salted edamame (£3.8), miso-glazed aubergine (£4.8) and grilled cauliflower (£5.5) that came in a bed of black sesame dip.

Apothecary Izakaya Shoreditch | DesignMyNight

I honestly can't stop thinking about these delicious tuna dragon rolls.

On top of that, we received smokey Tenderstem broccoli (£5.8), teriyaki chicken thigh skewers (£3.8) and spicy tuna dragon rolls (£14.90). The latter was my favourite of the lot; there were so many textures and flavours - I actually did a little dance with each mouthful. We also had the blackened salmon (12.80) which was cooked beautifully - succulent, flakey and bursting with East Asian flavours - and a side of furikake rice (£3.80).

While we were stuffed, we couldn't help ourselves but have another lil' drinkypoo, and  I opted for a tekirawan (£12). This was a delicious blend of Ocho Blanco tequila, Quiquiriqui mezcal, Ancho Reyes Verde chili liqueur, sweet yuzu kosho and lime. It was a powerful combination of flavours; smoky, zesty and pretty damn boozy. Last but not least, my mate ordered a better, not bitter (£12). This saw Maker's Mark bourbon mingling with Averno amaro, nectarine liqueur, lemon and egg white. All these ingredients were a match made in heaven, resulting in a tangy sour-like cocktail, where you could really taste the nectarine coming through.

The DesignMyNight Digest

On their website, Apothecary describes itself as a 'Shoreditch Izakaya', and I think that pretty much sums it up. It's a bit of an upmarket, trendy spin on the casual Japanese haunts it's referring to, which, for me, was exactly what I was looking for that Friday night. My highlight of the evening was definitely the cocktails, so I'll be back again for those soon.

  💰 The damage: £137 plus service charge.

  📍  The location: 36 Charlotte Road, London, EC2A 3PG.

  👌 Perfect for: Snazzy after-work drinks and cosy date nights.

 ⭐ Need to know: There are DJs playing top tunes from 7pm on the weekends.


On the lookout for more East Asian Eats? Discover the best Japanese restaurants in London here.