The 21 best new reasons to drink in Bangkok 曼谷21間值得開喝得好所在
1. Drinking in Malls
1881 Water Library
At last, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of a mall to get sloshed. Groove @ CentralWorld
is another spot to get a drink after work with the opening of booze franchise like HOBS
and Wine I Love You
. The lofty 1881 Water Library
, meanwhile, offers an edgier array of cocktails. Joining later is the second branch of cocktails veterans Hyde and Seek
, dubbed Hyde and Seek Peek-A-Boo, which offers American-meets-British comfort dishes together with cocktails set in a playground-like décor.
Groove@ CentralWorld, Rama 1 Rd
2. Nightlife Gods
Namsaah Bottling Trust
Justine Dunne was manager of the beloved Bed Supperclub, then Ku De Ta. Fred Meyer manages a whole bunch of world-class DJs. And Ian Kittichai is Thailand’s most globally recognized chef. The three of them joined forces and opened the Namsaah Bottling Trust
just last month. Set in a 100-year-old house painted pink, the food menu is all about twists on Asian comfort food, like pad Thai with duck and foie gras (B430) or salmon tartare wonton tacos (B260). The long list of cocktails, too, spans recognizable classics with local twists: Sex on the BTS (vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry and orange, B290) and Krungthep Cosmo (Absolut mandarin, triple sec, cranberry and citrus, B340), Chinese 5-Spice Bubbletini (sparkling wine, amaretto, five Chinese spices, B360) and Thai Basil Gimlet (gin, Thai basil and lime, B290).
401 Silom Soi 7. 02-636-6622. BTS Chong Nonsi
3. Even More Homemade Infused-Spirit
Joining our old favorites Smith, Escapade Burgers & Shakes and Junker & Bar, is Barka
, which opened in April and is the latest small, cozy spot to focus on homemade, infused spirits. Located inside the hip bike café Aran Bicicietta, this homey restaurant and bar boasts a welcoming ambience that thankfully goes for a softer, warmer vibe than the usual industrial-looking venues. The kitchen churns out a brief selection of global favorites while the cocktail list is carefully crafted, including such treats as the Man Thing (honey-infused whiskey, orange, lemon, Peychaud's bitter, B280) and Tea Dance (earl grey-infused gin, lemon, honey, ginger ale and organic rose, B300). The bar also offers weekly, limited cocktails that they will post on their Facebook page a day in advance, so make sure you follow them to get such oddities as a whisky infused with Chinese spices or gin infused with Waydhana-dried Chinese plum and Jolly Bear.
128/10 Paholyothin Soi 2. 081-783-4070. BTS Ari
4. Southeast Asia’s Best Bartender
This April, co-owner and mixologist of Roof Hideaway Ronnaporn Kanivichaporn won the Diageo World Class competition 2014 for Southeast Asia. He’ll be competing in London this September for the world finals. His cocktails are playful and inventive, such as the awarded Play On! (vodka, blanc vermouth, peppermint tea, cranberry syrup, Berocca tablet and ginger ale).
Try them at Roof Hideaway 3/F, Muse Thonglor, 159/8 Thonglor Soi 10. 087-888-5599. BTS Thonglor
5. Shisha with LED Lights
Taking over the space on the second floor of Opus Building (what used to be Spot On Beach Bar & Lounge), Glam
is run by a group of fresh graduates from Chulalongkorn University who like to get a little crazy with their shisha. The clear shisha bottles glow in the dark thanks to LED lights, while the inside is packed with ice and fresh fruit, with some choices mixed just like a cocktail, to top up the flavor. Prices start from B600.
2/F, Opus Building, 139 Thonglor Soi 10. 02-714-8946
6. Gypsy Beers
Yeah, yeah, craft beers are everywhere now. But the arrival of gypsy brewery Mikkeller
late last year is still cause to celebrate. The old-house-turned-bar-meets-brewery serves up plenty of crazy flavors (Crooked Moon IPA, Beer Geek Brunch Weasel and George, to name but a few), with alcohol levels as high as 11%. What’s more, they have recently been holding many “meet the brewer" events, flying in crazy beer magicians for you to meet in person.
26 Ekkamai Soi 10 Yaek 2. 02-381-9891. BTS Ekkamai
7. Champagne Served with Ice
We’re not sure this is such a good idea but Moet Ice Imperial is a Champagne by Moet & Chandon that is designed especially to be served with ice. It’s a bit sweeter than your usual stuff, and is meant to reach its optimal balance when poured with the ice, although the whole thing ends up feeling a bit like a fizzy soda. Curious? Get it at Rotunda Bar.
Siam Kempinski, 991/9 Rama 1 Rd. 02-162-9000
8. Booze and Brunch
After its big renovation, Crave Restaurant
is back with a new Sunday Brunch promotion, Sunday Re:Hab, with free-flow hangover-friendly drinks (Bloody Mary and mojito). Every last Sunday of the month at B1,490 per person from 1-5pm.
8/F Aloft Hotel, 35 Sukhumvit Soi 11. 02-207-7000
9. Barrel-aged Cocktails
Well it took a while! With Bangkok so enamored with every trend coming out of Brooklyn, New York, barrel-aged cocktails were bound to pop up here at some point. See what all the fuss is about at cocktail-centric bar and restaurant, Vesper
. Not only is their mixologist Colin Tait from the UK a formidable presence behind the bar (warm, but not too chatty, and brutally efficient), but he’s been aging some of his classic cocktails—Negroni, Manhattan, Bobby Burns—in barrels. We tried the Negroni (B380) and it's smoother and mellower than one that’s freshly mixed, with the Campari losing its harsh edge.
10/15 Convent Rd. 02-235-2777. BTS Sala Daeng
10. Dessert Cafes that Serve Wine
The opening of Central Embassy has not only brought scores of high-end fashion brands to Bangkok but also welcomed some new food franchises. Hot on Instagram right now is the New York-based Chikalicious
(5/F Central Embassy, 1031 Ploenchit Rd. 02-160-5892. BTS Ploenchit), whose three-course sweets set (B400) can be enjoyed with a wine pairing for a mere B250 for one glass. Another sweet n’ boozy arrival is from Zurich, Teuscher
, who make chocolate mousse cake, chocolate macarons, hot chocolate and will have wine on their menu, soon. Now get hot chocolate with manulea or gramania at B200.
3/F, Central Embassy, 1031 Ploenchit Rd. BTS Ploenchit
11. Joseph Boroski’s Secret Bar
is a bit of an institution at this point. He’s trained and done the cocktails lists for a lot of the five-star hotels in town, for all of Ashley Sutton’s bars, for Quince, etc. But the mixology mercenary has finally set up his own shop at the end of a dark, damp alley. In fact, we’re not allowed to tell you exactly where. (Thonglor, odd numbers side, single digit soi, girls in red at the corner.) But you can chat him up on Facebook and he might send you a map. Is it worth the effort? Well, at B620 it better be. But how does this sound: a Sazerac made with XO cognac and Hudson rye, with a dash of Hella citrus bitters from Brooklyn. You can’t even find half those ingredients in this town! Nor can you really order this drink: each cocktail here is handcrafted for you only and there is no menu. (In case you’re hyperventilating, a belvedere fizz made with a homemade red basil syrup, fresh lemon, vanilla, and house-made bitter pineapple soda is “only” B360.) One last thing: the place’s design is by Ashley Sutton, and it’s absolutely stunning.
12. Q Bar 2: Jazz Edition
David Jacobson, the founder of Q Bar in Vietnam, then Bangkok, is a nightlife legend. Q Bar brought in many big-name DJs for their first shows in Bangkok, and always had the latest and best liquor stocked in its bar. Anyway, he’s sold off that institution and left Soi 11. You can now find him at Smalls in Suan Phlu, a short walk from Junker & Bar. The décor is more Le Derriere (the absinthe bar he opened behind Q Bar) than, well, Q Bar. So order some green fairy (from B350-700) and take in the blues band performing every Thursday and jazz bands on Friday.
186/3 Suan Phlu Soi 1. 081-819-6808
13. Locally-made Syrups Now Have a Home
Socrates are famous for their syrups, which they supply to many bars and restaurants around the Thonglor-Ekkamai area. Now, the boys have turned their small office on Ekkamai Soi 21 into an ultra-hip bar called Sugar Ray
. It opens only three days a week (Wed, Fri-Sat) and serves classics, like their delicious Old-Fashioned (B350). Their collection of syrups is also proudly on display. Just have it with soda (B160), or with a shot of vodka (B260). The outdoor terrace is now under renovation and will reopen in August. Baan Ekkamai,
Ekkamai Soi 21. 081-750-8385. BTS Ekkamai
14. British Ales in Supermarkets
Even supermarkets have better booze these days. We’re seeing Greene King Brewery labels at our local Villa like Abbot Ale, Belhaven and Speckled Hen (from B179). Greene King are evil and in danger of becoming a beer monopoly in England. Over here, we’re just happy to drink their stuff, though.
15. Proper Beer Glasses
One of Bangkok’s best sources to get beers delivered right to your door, Wishbeer
now also provides the beer glasses for you to enjoy them the way they were intended to be. That massive Hoegaarden glass will set you back B480, but Erdinger comes with two bottles for that same price. There are also collectibles, such as the Kwak box set with four bottles (B1,950) and the new Duvel glass by Dutch artist Letman (B1,390). www.wishbeer.com
16. That Bar on Top of Lady Brett
We just reviewed U.N.C.L.E.
last week as, to our surprise, this sexy speakeasy also does a real (and real short) menu of steaks and mussels. But enough about food. You come here for the amazing cocktails designed by the Swedish lads that first burst onto our mixology scene with the opening of Hyde & Seek. These guys know how to fix a drink, as is evident in the all new menu they just rolled out including Bourbon N' Apple (bourbon, averna, branca menta, apple juice, vanilla syrup and lemon juice, B330) and Beer N' Passion Fruit (vodka, passion fruit, brown sugar, lager beer, B330).
2/F, 149 Sathorn Soi 12. 02-635-0406
17. Inventive Thai Food with a Damn Good Wine List
Run by young chefs Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn and Worathong “Tae” Udomchalotorn, Le Du
offers bold Asian—mostly Thai—flavors made using modern techniques worthy of the world’s hottest restaurants. Think wagyu carpaccio with pickled local veggies and an aromatic sauce with Thai herbs. The wine list is just as impressive: the bottles are sourced only from organic producers or boutique importers, and curated by Chef Ton who got his sommelier certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers in New York. Wine by the glass goes for B280-B420 and bottles from B780 with some 50 labels to choose from.
399/3 Silom Soi 7. 092-919-9969
18. Modern Izakaya
We love the dingy, smoky izakaya (Japanese taverns) in this town, whether it’s in Soi Than Tawan or around Sukhumvit Soi 24-26. But we’re also happy that Hanakaruta
is offering a modern alternative. Their recently opened second branch is in the buzzing Sathorn Soi 10, and the atmosphere feels bright and spacious compared to most Nippon bars. Added bonus: with cocktails starting from B390 at so many places these days, prices here are much more reasonable. B160 for a simple whiskey highball is not bad, especially when you get a classy barman carving ice-balls behind the counter thrown in for free. Similarly, we also recommend Walden,
located on the second floor of a furniture shop in Sukhumvit Soi 31. It’s got to be the cheapest glass of Glenfiddich in town (B220 with an option of on the rocks, soda & apple), free snacks and a vibe worthy of crafty hipster mag Kinfolk.
7/1 Sukhumvit Soi 31. 02-662-8087
19. Wine Without the Pretense
Wine Garage is a new retailer that’s got a resolutely laidback attitude towards vino, whether they’re hosting a wine picnic at Quince or a brown paper bag tasting to prove people don’t like Dom Perignon nearly as much as they think. Their wines are from boutique producers, handpicked by certified sommeliers and can be delivered to your home.
20. Sutton's Back!
A.R Sutton Engineers Siam
On the topic of Ashley Sutton, here’s the breaking news: Sutton is no longer involved in all those places he originally designed, like Iron Fairies, Mr. Jones Orphanage or Maggie Choo’s. All that now belongs to the Fico Group, a long and acrimonious story. Anyway, Sutton is starting over from scratch with A.R Sutton Engineers Siam
, a colonial-inspired bar. It’s as beautiful as his other work, less whimsical perhaps, but it feels like it’s always been there, like an old British club in Singapore or Penang. The homemade cinnamon-infused Sailor Jerry Spice Rum (B220) packs quite the punch—a few of those and you’ll be cussing worse than a pirate, if not like Sutton himself.
G/F, Park Lane Ekkamai, Sukhumvit Soi 63. BTS Ekkamai
21. More Happy Hours and Free-Flow Deals
Are you broke? Have a drink, then. Ladies should head out for free-flow sparkling wine at Woo Bar
(Fri, 7-10pm. 106 Sathorn Rd. 02-344-400. BTS Chong Nonsi) while the Thursday Gentleman’s night at Whisgars
(either at the original in Sukhumvit Soi 23 or at the new branch that just opened in Ploen Chit
) has whiskey starting from B280/glass for Glenfiddich 12 years.
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