The Pharmacy 2.0 – Knokke’s Mixological Masterpiece

The Pharmacy 2.0 – Knokke’s Mixological Masterpiece

Knokke-Heist, a Belgian coastal gem on the North Sea, boasts beautiful beaches, culture, and luxurious charm, drawing global tourists. It’s known for upscale villas, stylish architecture, and vibrant shops. Colourful streets with well-kept promenades offer a perfect coastal dining backdrop. For cocktail enthusiasts, Knokke-Heist offers an unforgettable experience with extraordinary libations and bites too. I had a magical rendezvous of libations in Knokke accompanied by delicious bites.

My journey’s essence lies in meeting inspiring people that lead to new adventures. Noa Van Ongevalle, a spirited bartender, ignited this journey during her guest shift at Pink Pony Club in Budapest. Earlier, her brother Ran’s bar, Bar Ran, had intrigued me in Bruges. Finally, I arrived at the legendary The Pharmacy, now The Pharmacy 2.0, nestled in Knokke’s streets. Noa revealed its reopening within The Ugly Duckling restaurant, creating a cosy, enchanting experience with a unique design.

The restaurant and bar blend two concepts: Culinary craft and creative cocktails, both modern and inventive. Experience fine dining with local ingredients or indulge in playful tapas, catering to those who value exceptional quality.

Jan Van Ongevalle, the visionary entrepreneur, leads this concept with passion and innovation. He’s also a loving father to Noa, Ran, and Hannah, all self-employed in the hospitality industry. Hannah runs Tipsy Cake and Cocktail Maison, delivering vacuum-packed cocktails and catering to enthusiasts.

Enter to be welcomed by the captivating symbol of pharmacology – Hygieia’s bowl – gracefully placed at the entrance. Inside, green hues with vibrant red neon lettering create a jungle-like ambiance with soothing lighting for relaxation. It exudes a unique fusion of style and comfort, making it an inviting oasis where you can indulge in a moment of pure relaxation.

The bar area contrasts delightfully and is clean and sophisticated. Decorative bottles usually found in bars have disappeared; instead they are tastefully tucked away in spacious drawers. Finished in stainless steel, the elegant and immaculate bar station invites you to take a seat and engage in the experience. Culinary offerings include a tempting menu, while the bar serves creative finger-licking bar food with surprising elements, transforming the dining experience.

Taste the captivating fusion on your plate and in your glass at the Ugly Duckling. Welcome to the Ugly Duckling, where fun dining meets an exciting fusion of exquisite food and fantastic drinks.

The menu presents a variety of small dishes, each with a distinctive surprise that elevates the dining experience. The drink selection is influenced by Asia, evoking memories of my trips to Singapore’s bar counters. Jan confirmed this, as The Pharmacy recently explored Asia’s 50 Best Bars. Having visited numerous bars and tried diverse cocktails, I can now recognize their signature styles, which makes me proud.

I would portray the cocktail experience as a symphony of pristine flavours, gracefully accompanied by crystal-clear ice, dancing harmoniously within exquisite glassware. A good cocktail should take you on a little journey and should be a treat for taste buds and eyes alike.

My sister-in-law accompanied me on this little excursion and we started with two lighter drinks and snacks from the bar food menu such as Peking duck spring rolls, dim sum and tuna tataki. The Broken Bottle, a bubbly gin with oils of lemon and grapefruit as well as the fennel infused gin, granny smith and cucumber, very refreshing and very aromatic. We both loved the ambience and the music and the focus on the drinks. 


We embarked on our thrilling adventure towards Mezcal. I decided to opt for the Poulpe cocktail – a mesmerising fusion of Mezcal, Vodka, crystal-clear tomato, sake, all elegantly floated by squid ink. Meanwhile, my delightful companion made a daring choice, selecting the velvety concoction called Fluff Fluff. This delightful mix combined the smoky essence of Mezcal with the succulent sweetness of strawberries, all kissed by the essence of distilled tabasco. As we savoured these elixirs, our senses were awakened to a symphony of flavours, making our Mezcal escapade very pleasant.


Upon a mere glimpse at the menu, it becomes evident that this establishment thrives on contemporary cocktail craftsmanship. Curious, I inquired about the use of a rotovap and indeed there is one in the bar’s own laboratory in the cellar. The tool enables the production of alcohol distillate from a wide range of ingredients. Its primary purpose is to craft a custom cocktail that perfectly complements the dish chosen by the customer. The  idea is to serve the customer a cocktail perfectly tailored to the dish they have ordered.

The recipe of the house: a seamless process, an extremely friendly service that is relaxed and attentive at the same time. The place is characterised by professional hospitality, years of experience and hard work in the background. An impressive mix!

My last order was on the recommendation of Jan, the Classic & Clear. A distant cousin of the New York Sour, this simple recipe builds on a base of redistilled whisky topped with a foam of red wine. Foam is making a stylish comeback at high-concept bars across the globe. It originally gained popularity during the rise of molecular gastronomy in the early 2000s, but eventually faded away. However, thanks to innovative tools and techniques for aerating liquids, it’s now making a triumphant return in the cocktail scene.


Scanning through the dessert menu, my eyes caught sight of a Big Mac! Intrigued by the quirky name for a dessert, I couldn’t resist the temptation and decided to order it. And let me tell you, it turned out to be an absolutely brilliant idea. The components of this delightful dessert are nothing short of a delightful surprise, and I won’t spoil the surprise by revealing them here. It’s an extraordinary and amusing treat that somewhat resembles a gigantic macaron, and that’s all I’ll say for now!

Not promised too much, Noa. That’s very quack 😉

Visit The Pharmacy on Instagram.