Realm of the 52 Remedies
Posted on March 4, 2019
San Diego is officially having a cocktail moment. From the inventive and refreshing cocktail list at Jeune et Jolie to the decadent mall speakeasy that is Raised by Wolves, the past year has brought a spate of openings that have breathed new life into the county’s drinking scene. For me, the best and most exciting addition has been on Convoy, where Realm of the 52 Remedies opened last December.
The speakeasy sits in the back of Common Theory Public House, both of which are owned and operated by Cris Liang and Joon Lee. Overall, the theme is pan-Asian — at its core, the bar pays homage to mainly Chinese and Korean cultures of past and present. The name, Realm of the 52 Remedies, refers to an ancient text in Chinese medicine that is considered to be the basis for the entire practice. The décor is whimsical, all-encompassing, and, most importantly, intimate and private — every seat in the house is secluded in some way.
“We draw inspiration from our cultural backgrounds, this affluent Asian neighborhood of San Diego, and the exotic and rich ingredients associated with these ethnic regions,” says Lee. This is best exemplified in my favorite cocktail on the current menu, called the “Jade Empress.” To an unfamiliar palate, it’s a strange one on the surface. Mixed with green tea, bai jiu (a Chinese grain liquor), fresh lemon, rhum agricole, banana liqueur, and salted cream cheese, it recalls humble Chinese drinking culture while referencing current trends in East Asian desserts, like the cream cheese, at the same time. A small bites menu features grilled meats, roasted vegetables, and other dishes, such as a crab and corn croquette with tonkatsu sauce and Chinese mustard.
“Realm of the 52 Remedies transports visitors through time where secret concoctions stimulating vitality and vigor are developed, cherished, and prescribed,” Lee says when asked what makes this bar different from others in San Diego.
“This hidden speakeasy conjures up images beginning with an apothecary of the future, treasuring traditional Chinese medicinal treatments and methodologies, later to reveal a mysterious path to the past leading to where it all began. With cocktails and small plates inspired by the flavors, unique ingredients, and artistry of the Far East, guests enter a world not seen by many before and perhaps even discover the cure to what ails them,” he adds.
Photography By James Tran