I was out last week with my cousin who was in town on a business trip. He had heard of Pharmarium and was eager to try it... and, as it was on my list of (relatively) new places to visit, so was I! In fact, it has been high up on the lists over best cocktail bars in Stockholm since they opened a little over a year ago.
First round of cocktails...
We were actually planning on eating dinner and we both had assumed that Pharmarium was both a regular restaurant as well as cocktail bar. But after showing us to our table, the waiter explained to us what to expect for our evening in regards to food & drink. They are first and foremost a cocktail bar. When it comes to food, instead of your regular menu of starters and main dishes, they offer a series of medium-sized dishes... each designed to be paired with one of their signature cocktails. He explained that if we were interested in dinner, 2 or 3 of these dishes would satisfy our hunger. We were intrigued!
Pharmarium is located on the main square (Stortorget) in the old town (Gamla Stan), in the building that once housed Stockholm's first apothecary/pharmacy back in the 1500's. Not only does this explain their name, it explains the inspiration for their concept and interior design. The interior of the locale has elements that resemble an old apothecary... small wooden drawers along the wall, herbs growing at the bar and the black & white checkered floor.
Many of the ingredients in both the cocktails and accompanying dishes follow the "pharmaceutical" concept... spices, plants, berries and herbs with medicinal value (or, like gold, were once thought to contain such properties). We started with a cocktail-dish pairing each and then we got a little wild and chose both cocktails and dishes randomly. Everything was delicious and the flavors were very seasonal. My absolute favorite dish was the sweetbreads with puré, cauliflower crisp and apricot & raisin chutney. Favorite cocktail? Hmmm... perhaps the Philosopher's Stone (Wild Turkey, Cynar & bitters, foam of smoked maple syrup, apple and gold powder).
As I mentioned, Pharmarium is in Gamla Stan and it is just a 15 minute walk from the Rival Hotel. Currently, the square houses the Gamla Stan Christmas market. But the historic square is popular year round and buildings lining the square are some of the most photographed in the city. The entrance is a little hard to spot, but it is on the south side of the square... just opposite the Nobel Museum.