Story & photos by Laurel Donahoo
The Apothecary at Brent’s Drugs is one of the newest and certainly one of the most carefully thought out additions to the current Jackson social scene. This classic cocktail bar, which feels like a prohibition-era speakeasy by design, boasts a uniquely crafted menu of cocktails and an understated atmosphere of comfort and mystery all rolled into one.
A first time visitor to The Apothecary at Brent’s Drugs, commonly referred to as simply Apothecary, might at first feel as though he or she is in the wrong place… And proprietors Brad Reeves and Jonathan Shull say that is exactly how they intended an experience at this new lounge to begin.
To get to Apothecary, a trip through Brent’s Drug Store is required, only Brent’s has long since been closed for the day. After a short walk through the restaurant and down a dimly lit hallway, there’s a door, and through that door, a curtain. Behind that curtain awaits something that locals and visitors alike will welcome as a breath of fresh air.
The interior design of Apothecary was carefully pulled together by working with elements of the space that were already in existence (like the exposed rafters and the cement block walls that were part of the original construction), and adding soda fountain touches (like the bar stools) and pharmacy style accents (like the swing-arm lighting and the giant pharmacy counter behind the bar) creating a purposeful and historically respectful aesthetic.
Another notable aspect of the interior is the cozy size of the seating area. With limited space available – the place seats 48 comfortably – sometimes the wait to get into the bar can run well past an hour. But to ensure good service and a consistently good experience, Brent’s owner Brad Reeves says they will always keep a handle on how many folks they allow in at one time.
“It takes a while to make some of the drinks, so we wanted to limit the space to ensure that drinks are made within a reasonable amount of time,” Reeves shares.
“We are first come, first served. We treat everybody equally. It doesn’t matter who you are,” Shull adds.
One thing that does require a little extra time when crafting each cocktail is the fact that each one is made completely from scratch, save the actual alcohol. “All the juices and syrups are made daily, so our drinks take some time to make. They’re made with pride,” says Shull. And many of them also have a story behind them.
The Doc Noble cocktail, for example, is named after a former Brent’s pharmacist who was known to have an affinity for whiskey. This particular “prescription cocktail,” as the menu so aptly calls the alcoholic drinks, is a variation of a classic Old Fashioned. Apothecary’s take on the drink involves rye infused with cayenne pecans, giving the drink “a quick hit of heat, then the sweetness balances out perfectly,” according to Shull.
Other drinks to look for are The Gift of ’66, signifying the year that Mississippi came out of prohibition, and the crowd favorite St. Germain Cobbler.
Also, notably, there are some non-“prescription” items on the menu. The craft temperance drinks, which are all sans liquor, are made just as carefully as the loaded cocktails, and the small plate food items incorporate locally made ingredients. The pickles on the sliders, for example, are made weekly by Shull himself.
One visit to Apothecary and it’s easy to see why Shull and Reeves are so excited to bring something like this to Jackson. Not only will visitors step back in time, they will experience something unique to the central Mississippi area. Cheers to 1966!
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