In Good Spirits
By Cheré Coen | Photography courtesy of Robert Raymond, The Apothecary
Wander through the landmark Brent’s Drugs after hours, and you’ll find the Apothecary Bar where remedies include signature cocktails.
While many people know Brent’s Drugs in Jackson for its famous retro décor or its use in the popular film “The Help,” they might not realize there’s another more spirited side to the Fondren neighborhood landmark.
When the circa-1946 drugstore, now restaurant, closes at 5 p.m., the Apothecary Bar opens.
The bar is located in what used to be the drugstore’s medicine storage room, said mixologist Robert Raymond. Patrons access the lounge via the closed drugstore-eatery, but make their way to the back where signature and classic cocktails are served.
“Brent’s closes at five most days, but we leave the front door unlocked and trust people to walk through the drug store,” Raymond said.
The Apothecary opens early for the after-work crowd and stays open until 1 a.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and until 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The extensive hours provide for an interesting evening, Raymond said.
“You get to see the whole night pass by you,” he explained. “It’s a wide range of people and life experiences who come in here. It’s a really interesting place.”
The bar shares the kitchen with Brent’s, serving small plates with their spirits with more extensive dishes on the weekend. Once a month on a Tuesday, The Apothecary invites Jackson chefs to cook up something special, dishes they might not serve elsewhere.
“These have been really fun nights and it’s given chefs an opportunity to show what they have,” Raymond said. “It’s been really fun for the people of Jackson.”
Other special events include spirit tastings and Derby parties, where the annual Kentucky Derby is projected on a large screen.
The Apothecary serves signature cocktails called “prescriptions,” in keeping with the establishment’s medical history. Concoctions include the Doc Noble, named for a 1960s Brent’s pharmacist, and Coffee Boulevardier, a coffee-infused vermouth combined with bourbon and Campari. Apothecary bartenders create their own syrups and infusions, Raymond added.
“But really, our grounding is in classic recipes and classic cocktails,” he explained, mostly cocktails developed in the 19th century. “We’re trying to present something really fresh and really exciting.”
A good example is the Mississippi Martinez, a cocktail that was created after the Manhattan but before the martini in the evolution of classic cocktails, Raymond explained.
“The fresh herbaceousness of gin plays with the classic bitter qualities of sweet vermouth,” he said. “We love the depth that Cathead’s Barrel Aged Bristow Gin brings to this drink.”
The following is a recipe for the Mississippi Martinez. For more information on The Apothecary and its varied menu, visit apothecaryjackson.com.
11/2ounce Cathead Barrel Aged Bristow Gin
1 ounce Cocchi Torino Sweet Vermouth
1/2 teaspoon Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters
Directions: Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Express the oils of a lemon peel on the surface of the drink, rub peel on rim of glass and discard.