Bartenders in Bangkok are calling the shots once again, which is welcome news for cocktail connoisseurs and vino aficionados. We round up the best new bars to check out in Bangkok this month.
The bar scene in Bangkok has had it rough the past couple of months. Not only did the Covid crisis lockdown deal everyone in the business a near fatal blow, but the subsequent – though thankfully short-lived – booze ban at restaurants was definitely not good news for bartenders. However, time passes and during July and August many new and interesting drink spots began to appear, popping up like champagne corks across the previously dry metropolis. And there’s not much sign of things slowing down either. Here now are seven great new watering holes for you, dear readers, to pore over.
Bar.Yard + Craft
The Kimpton Maa-Lai Hotel Bangkok has fast become the new in spot to see and be seen, and there’s no better place to do both than at Bar.Yard, the glorious rooftop space high up on the 40th floor. Tiki drinks and tropical cocktails are certainly a big draw here, but don’t miss the selection of Moscow Mules, blended with homemade ginger beer, and ingenious concoctions like the Brown Coconut: a mix of toasted coconut water, San Luis Mezcal, and Hazelnut cordial. In addition to the drinks, the food menu offers eclectic Latin American fare – the chef is from Mexico – including tasty seared Andaman snapper fish tacos, addictively delicious Ancho dark beer smoked BBQ baby pork ribs, and superb smoked chicken quesadillas. If rooftops aren’t your thing, you can also get superb coffees, great gin cocktails and more at Craft, on the lobby floor (hint: try the bourbon-based ‘White Russian’, a specialty creation from the hotel’s bars and beverage manager Aaron Feder).
Wasteland + Must Have Wine
In a bold move, Bo.Lan restaurant recently revamped their whole operation, changing this former Michelin-starred dining spot into a series of five separate but organically connected mini-venues all under one roof. Two of these newly created F&B stations are drink-related, starting with Wasteland, a small bar area – referred to as a “community sipping space” – which repurposes unused ingredients from the Bo.lan kitchen and the space’s outdoor edible garden. This recycling mindset not only creatively reduces waste, but also champions overlooked flavours. Also under the wing of the new Bo.Lan is Must Have Wine, a cozy, couch-filled wine bar operated by the team behind FIN (Fabulous Is Needed) wine importers and distributors. The focus here is on boutique organic and biodynamic wines, and the list offers a healthy selection of bottles alongside an ever-changing list of wines by the glass. In addition, the knowledgeable staff are also happy to organise more in depth tastings, exploring wines from all around the world. Diners are also welcome to purchase bottles and enjoy them with their meal at either Err or Bo.lan Chef’s Table, the two new on-site dining venues.
There’s been a lot of buzz lately surrounding Paradise Lost, the new rooftop bar on the 25th floor of the Siam@Siam Deign Hotel, which officially opens on September 4th Alongside innovative cocktails and eclectic music, the space features a dazzling 360-degree skyline view and a life-affirming neo-tropical design – conceptualised by Singapore-based Proof & Company – that combines lush greenery with striking pink and yellow hues. The star power behind the bar includes Mohawk-sporting head bartender Gabriel Lowe, the San Francisco-native behind the Black Bear in Bogata. Highlights from his lengthy list of craft cocktails include: Static Sunset (Widges gin, compressed watermelon, cucumber, citrus, sparkling wine); ’Til the Moon Sets (Diplomatico Reserva, St. George Nola coffee liqueur, Lairds apple brandy, mint, chocolate and orange bitters); and Can’t Burn Concrete (Dewar’s 12 year scotch, yellow chartreuse, young mango, and chrysanthemum honey). The food menu, meanwhile, comes courtesy of chef Monthep “Thep” Kamolsilp, of the modern Thai restaurant Taan, located one flight below.
Cooling Tower Rooftop Bar
If you still haven’t been to the Carlton Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit, which opened shortly before the Covid-19 lockdown, then the recent opening of the Cooling Tower Rooftop Bar should provide a good excuse to visit. Located on the 34th floor, this new tippling spot affords beautiful skyline views, enhanced by sophisticated cocktails – courtesy of the resident mixologist – and superior craft beers. The open-air setting features a variety of seating options, including cozy spaces for couples, large tables for groups, and room at the bar for simply leaning back and taking in the sights. Complementing the drinks is a food menu with a focus on sharing plates, tasty tapas, and grilled favourites. Currently, Happy Hour is from 5:30pm to 7:30pm (buy 1 get 1 free on select cocktails, wine by the glass, and local bottled and draught beer), and during the opening promotion period guests will receive 20% discount on food and beverage.
Although the building is right on Sukhumvit Soi 31, the entrance to Pin 31 is somewhat obscure, and once you’re in the right building you have to venture up to the 6th floor and down some narrow hallways. However, the trek is worth it if you’re looking for something a little offbeat when cocktail hour arrives. The retro-mod interior here is like something out of an East Village indie art gallery, which is fitting as this space doubles as an art space of sorts. The main lounge area is flanked on three sides by projection mapping malls, which take guests on virtual tours of far-flung destinations like Paris, Egypt, Tokyo, etc. But the real journey lies in the creative beverage menu, in which head bartender Christopher Menning takes artistic license to new heights. Try, if you dare, the Pla Muek Yang, with seafood sauce liqueur, Ketel One vodka, lime and a dried squid garnish, or play it safe with a coconut gin martini or a pandan Negroni. Finally, if you have a slight sweet tooth, ask for the cocktail containing peanut butter, Kad Kokoa Thai chocolate, cognac, and popcorn – it’s fantastic! Currently, Pin 31 is still in its soft opening phase, but it will open officially on Friday, September 11th.
Tre Bar & Bistro
There’s a swank new nighttime hangout on Sukhumvit Soi 53, where “three” really is the magic number. The man behind it all is Vinthai Dusdeesurapoj, of Clement Apparel, who has swapped his fashion industry lifestyle for a new role as restaurateur. At his Tre Bar & Bistro you’ll encounter a three-story building, with ultra-glam Art Deco interiors, where three concepts comingle; namely restaurant, bar, and rooftop lounge. Creative cocktails from the oversize bar are a huge part of the draw here, with thematically appropriate names such as The Three Musketeers (rosé vermouth, homemade elderflower cordial, and gin-infused saffron) and The Three Dots (tequila, homemade salted calamansi juice, and honey-coated bay leaf). To add to the enjoyment, the dining selections feature dishes inspired by a trio of cuisines, namely Japanese, Peruvian and Italian. Oh, and tre is “three” in Italian, just so you know.
It’s unlikely you’ve seen anything quite like Bar Thewda (Angel Bar), a newly launched project located on the first floor of the Liberty Plaza in Thong Lor. Here the staff dress like Thai deities, and the “divinely” decorated bar’s signature cocktails take their inspiration from Thai and Hindu myths. Other-worldly “spirit” concoctions include: the Rattana Naka (inspired by the Naga of the Himmapan forest), made with Mekhong rum, pampelle ruby apero, and homemade sparkling mango sangria; the smoking bubble Manee Mekhala (goddess of the ocean), made with Thai crafted rum infused pandan, jasmine sweet vermouth, pomelo, lychee, citrus, and orgeat syrup; the dramatic Winarn Kinnaree, (inspired by the human/bird Thai deva), with pandan spirit, calvados, Thai guava, yuzu, and apple cider vinegar; the Suban Hernhol (flying Garuda), with Hong Thong infused Thai spiced spirit, Thai tea sweet vermouth, Angostura bitter, ginger, and cinnamon; and the Arkom Vitiyathorn, a sweet and sour cocktail that takes its name from one of the Thai angels who live in the highest level of heaven.