South Beach’s sleepy Albion Hotel is ready for an awakening as Albert Trummer’s medicinal cocktail bar, Drogerie, opens with a star-studded party for Parisian fashion designer Esteban Cortazar tonight (Thursday, June 6).
Last fall, we told you about Trummer, the Austrian who developed Apotheke in New York City, and his plans for a secret bar in Wynwood. Issues with the city’s permitting process and tension with his former business partners motivated Trummer to readjust and open under a new name in the Rubell family’s hotel just in time for summer.
Drogerie has a lot of Wynwood-esque elements. Look beneath the illuminated Carrera marble and onyx bar to find graffiti by Miami-based street artist Saro. An original Peter Tunney, a favorite of the late-Tony Goldman and Joe Furst, adorns the south wall with shiny images of ‘70s and ‘80s rock stars next to an elegant chandelier. Vintage (but not shabby) furniture dots the space. The couches were gifted by chef Daniel Boulud: “Boulud told me that President Bill Clinton, Bruce Springsteen, and other greats once sat on these sofas. He wanted to give me a few pieces to have,” said Trummer.
Located in the lobby of the Albion at 1650 James Ave. off Lincoln Rd., Trummer is excited to be a part of the neighborhood’s bustling scene.
“James Avenue has been transformed into a cool, boutiquey street. There’s The Regent Cocktail Club right there, Casa Tua, and The Sanctuary, all within walking distance,” said Trummer. “I want the locals to come here.”
The Prescription List (cocktail menu) is extensive and filled with remedies like the “Miami Chiller,” which falls under the “Stress Reliever” category. The combination of fresh muddled celery, cucumber-infused gin, green Chartreuse, verjus (Chardonnay vinegar), and fresh lime, is meant to transport you to a calmer place.
The “Strawberry Fennel” is dedicated to regeneration and rejuvenation. Under the “Health & Beauty” category, it comprises fresh California strawberries dressed in orange liqueur, vodka, fresh fennel, and fennel oil essence (commonly used as an aphrodisiac).
Everything goes back to the European apothecary days at Drogerie. Trummer and his talented team of “chemists” are careful with the use of herbs and botanicals because “each one has a different effect on the body.” They’ve studied this work for decades and employ a scientific approach to macerations (infusions) instead of using the more typical and novice approach of simply soaking items in alcohol without any science. They thoughtfully pair their herbs and botanicals with organic fruit (local whenever possible) and premium spirits to ensure the quality is the highest possible.
Trummer loves the cleansing properties of cucumbers. They’re in the “Deal Closer,” along with vodka, Chinatown aphrodisiacs, fresh mint, fresh lime and vanilla essence. The aphrodisiacs (also known as Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM) are made into a tea and then infused into the vodka with a lot of oversight. Trummer says it can takes up to 24 hours or just a few minutes to infuse, depending on the potency and the reaction that occurs. Look for this drink in the section devoted entirely to “Aphrodisiacs” – a section sure to be popular with the hedonistic South Beach crowd.
Craig Simpson, Trummer’s longtime bar mate, suggests the “Five Points” under the “Stimulants,” featuring the herbal maceration including dill essence, fennel essence, and TCM, which is dubbed House Elixir #4. The concoction is paired with hibiscus, Italian bitters, New York State grapes, cachaça, and house-pressed sugar can juice.
For an impressive throw back to the old school apothecary, ask Trummer to perform the “Absinthe Ritual” at the bar. It’s a technique he learned from an absinthe expert in the South of France years ago. Expect herbs in a cognac base with vermouth and rum, several beakers, flames in a jigger, flames over thyme, flames on the beakers (to burn off the alcohol and give a killer show), and a final product poured into seriously stunning crystal coupes. It takes a few minutes to complete the performance, but you’ll be talking about it for much longer after you finish the warm and soothing drink.
Galena Mosovich is the lead writer for cocktail culture for Miami.com and The Miami Herald.