The entrance to Pharmacia is the first thing that strikes you: through wrought-iron gates, across a lawn, to your table on the veranda. How often do you enter an urban bar across a lawn?! Good start.
Only once I had sat down did I take in the lovely spot: ahead, across the square, a distant view peeking through the trees; to left and right, Palaces. The staff were especially friendly and helpful; the barmen charismatic and skilful. Unsurprisingly the menu is full of the cocktails with pharmaceutical names, we avoided Morphine and Placebo, going for Cardiotonic, a brandy and coffee concoction and Omeprazol, a cocktail combining port and pear. You feel that the art of the cocktail is still finding its feet in Lisbon, but these were inventive and delicious, plus the ingredients were mostly Portuguese.
The staff’s white uniforms have a surgical feel; wine is served in pharmaceutical jugs; there are sweets for sale in pill-jars. In the restaurant inside, food emerges from behind white screens and there is more pharmaceutical paraphernalia. Because, of course (!), the bar and restaurant are integrated into the Museum of Pharmacology, which is adjacent to the Portuguese Pharmacies Association.
Pharmacia’s soothing ambience combines the novelty of the new function with the elegance of the old. The loos are hard to find, buried deep inside the building (good chance to ogle) - but upon arrival the posters will leave you in no doubt about how to wash your hands.