Cleveland can be listed on every “What city is the worst, most miserable, most depressing place ever on the face of the earth?” list published. We’re used to it (well, kind of — some of the more sensitive, like myself, may never truly be OK with it). Want to know why it’s OK with us? Because Cleveland isn’t the worst city ever. In fact, it’s pretty awesome, and its awesomeness has only become better recognized by the culinary culture taking hold in the area, sparked by celebrity chefs like Michael Symon. But the dining scene isn’t the only thing growing — the cocktail crowd is growing too, which was remarkably noticeable as the Nightclub & Bar team hit up the grand opening event of Apothecary in Lakewood, a suburb just west of downtown Cleveland.
The brainchild of Joseph DeLuca, Apothecary features nine (soon-to-be 10) handcrafted cocktails, from the classic Singapore Sling to the Bouquet & Tonic, a modern interpretation of the Gin & Tonic (Tanqueray London Dry, orange flower water, Moscato d’Asti and tonic). Plus, it boasts a small but versatile craft beer list as well as an extensive wine list — a smart move for a bar in Cleveland, a beer-lover’s haven.
But what really impressed us at the opening (which, by the way, welcomed Tanqueray brand ambassador Angus Winchester) was the bartender-ness of the bartenders. There’s been so much talk lately (including in my blog from Tales of the Cocktail) about how bartenders need to focus on being a bartender rather than being a mixologist, a cocktailian, a beverage guru — basically any term that we writers want to use when we get sick of writing the word “bartender.” But that’s what these men (unfortunately, yes, they were all men) were. They bartended, and they did a damn good job of it. By that, I mean they made friendly conversation, they remembered our drinks (even two nights later when I stopped in to show the place off to my husband), they taught us about the cocktails. They did everything a good bartender should do — including making a delicious, well-balanced cocktail.
And so while everyone outside Northeast Ohio might turn up their noses at the mention of the city, we here in Cleveland (the headquarters of the NCB offices) thank you for furthering the craft here. Cleveland has a ton of amazing bars — from corner pubs to rowdy nightclubs — and we’re happy to welcome one more to the mix.