Bar Buddies: Apteka
It seems like the perfect night to dress up like hipsters and make fun of your exes. But what bar is going to match your flannel and beanie aesthetic? Cue Apteka, in all its candles-in-mason-jar, grass-garnished-cocktail glory.
The location: Apteka is on Penn Avenue, nestled on the border between Lawrenceville and Bloomfield. It’s about a half hour from campus on the 54 leaving from Craig St and Winthrop St. I’m going to be honest though, every time I try to go to Lawrenceville, I break and take an uber. Lawrenceville is Pittsburgh’s hipster central, with independent bookstores and bike shops galore. Apteka is a bit removed from the main drag so it’s not prime bar-hopping material, but it could be the end of a nice day exploring the neighborhood.
The drinks: It’s been two days and I’m still not sure what I thought of the drinks. We sampled most of the cocktail options, and most of what I can say is that they were an experience.
The first thing we noticed looking at the drink menu was that one of them listed “grass” as a primary ingredient. Of course we had to know, and there ensued a quick game of hot potato for who was paying to drink grass. I really expected wheatgrass or some other trendy ingredient, but no. When our drinks arrived there was dried lawn grass floating on top of one of the light pink concoctions. Another had a leaf as a garnish. Not a mint leaf or basil leaf, a literal tree leaf. Apparently the leaf was surprisingly lemony and nice, but eating the grass is NOT an experience you want to have. The word "spongy" was used.
Apteka is a vegan Eastern European restaurant during the day, and the kitchen stays open till 10 p.m, with an abridged late night menu till midnight. The portions of both the food and drinks are small and a little overpriced, but it’s a great option if you are vegetarian or vegan and want to diversify your dining out options beyond the usual Thai food, Indian food, Spak Brothers circuit.
The vibe: Upon sitting down at our table, three of the four people in our group muttered, “This is the most hipster thing I’ve ever seen.” One was directed at the tiny candle burning in the giant mason jar on our table, one at the dreamy back garden, and one at the people who filled the roughhewn tables and benches around us. We were all too stunned by the menu written in illegible charcoal on butcherpaper and pinned to the wall.
Apteka spans a variety of vibes. The crowd spanned everything from college freshmen (before 10 p.m. After 10 it’s over 21 only.) to people who have long since graduated, and everyone was having a good time.
Lit or Nah: I’m gonna go with Lit. The ambiance is completely unique, and if you’re anything like me the mix of backyard fairy-lights and dried flowers is sure to make you smile. If you’re looking for a trendy place to spend a night out chatting and laughing with friends, Apteka is it.