The bar started out in 1953 in what is currently Khun Ankana’s study in the hotel, and has cemented its place as a beloved institution in the city, visited by celebrities around the world and Thailand’s high society.
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Taste the best of Bangkok’s cocktails and spirits, in themed bars often hidden under a shroud of secrecy.
The Bamboo Bar at Mandarin Oriental
The bar started out in 1953 in what is currently Khun Ankana’s study in the hotel, and has cemented its place as a beloved institution in the city, visited by celebrities around the world and Thailand’s high society. The award-winning bar takes guests on a journey around Thailand, using locally available rums and alcohols, such as the signature cocktail Hang Lay, made with Phraya Rum from North Thailand, turmeric, ginger, tamarind and lime. Otherwise, indulge in the 30gm Oscietra Caviar and Hennessy Richard Cognac. The Bamboo Bar
Backstage Cocktail Bar
Located next to the reception area in the Playhaus Thonglor Hotel, the bar is designed to resemble the backstage of a theatre. During the day it offers light refreshments, coffee and tea, while at night it showcases the finest cocktails and mocktails created by experienced bartenders. The Prepare for Glory signature cocktail, inspired by 300, features fennel infused Wild Turkey Rye, sweet vermouth, cacao white, orange bitters, soda and raspberry apple cider shrub, while The Mouth of Truth is a red wine, orange, lemon, pineapple aperol, Licor43 and rose lemonade concoction that was derived from Roman Holiday. facebook.com/backstagecocktailbarbkk
The name is derived from James Bond’s favourite martini, and the design of classy London bars influences the interiors. Their menu depicts some of the greatest paintings, like Campbell soup cans by Andy Warhol, Automat by Edward Hopper, and their associated drinks. The latter is a mix of Tanqueray London Dry, mint, chamomile, cinnamon, lemon, honey and chocolate bitters, while the former is roasted corn infused bourbon with sherry, almond, apple and popcorn. Cocktails like the Vesper, Penicillin and Ramos Gin Fizz are also on the menu. For a splurge, consider the Patron Gran Platinum. vesperbar.co
Designed to reflect a Parisian feel, Smalls—a collaboration between David Jacobson of the former Q Bar and Bruno Tanquerel, whom David worked with on Le Derriere—is located on SuanPhluSoi. Aside from the usual suspects like the classic pina colada, Cosmopolitan and Martini, Smalls also has a fairly extensive whiskey menu featuring the Johnnie Walker Blue. For a real indulgence, try the VeuveCliquot champagne. If you’re feeling peckish, choose from an array of bar bites like the seared tuna on fried wonton with wasabi mayo or the smoked salmon on toast with caviar, capers and sour cream. facebook.com/smallsbkk
Teens of Thailand
Located on the edge of Chinatown, you’ll find this bar behind an Indian-style door. A dimly-lit space using the original shophouse’s architecture remains, and is accented by vintage Thai furniture. The team features co-founder of Barka, and mixologist NiksAnuman-Rajadhon, who also owns Drink Academy, seasoned photographer KachainWonglamthong—who took the racy photographs on the cement walls, and Sqweez Animal guitarist SinghaMusikapong. Choose from the extensive collection of gin that includes Tanqueray, Ashley Sutton’s Iron Balls and the house pour Hanami gin or try the drink of the day. facebook.com/teensofthailand
Don’t be put off by the façade of the bar—it may look abandoned and located behind a spirit house that seems straight out of a Thai horror film—but once you get to the third floor you’ll be greeted by the bar behind a long white marble surface, with just a few bottles on display. Try the signature cocktails, named after the local ingredients, like Egg Yolk, where Japanese whisky is paired with coffee, hazelnut liqueur, yadong bitters and egg yolk custard, or Banana, a concoction of banana spirit, vermouth classic, cynar, fernetbranca, cocoa powder and Abbott’s Bitters. For a splurge, try the Hakushu 18 year whisky. facebook.com/ku.bangkok
The Bar, The House of Sathorn
Located in the building that used to be the Russian embassy and now a part of W Hotel Bangkok, The Bar can be transformed from a day space, to host meetings and afternoon tea, to a bar serving Asian-inspired bar bites, crafted season cocktails, wines, champagnes and sakes. Splurge on a Hennessy Paradis, or try one of the signature cocktails like the Flying Pig, which is crafted with Johnnie Walker Black Label whiskey, Grand Marnier, passionfruit, cinnamon syrup and a pomegranate reduction, together with an egg white. Pair this with a cigar, either a Montecristo Edmundo or an H. Upmann Magnum 46. thehouseonsathorn.com/en
At Vogue Lounge on the sixth floor of the MahaNakon Cube, expect 1920s glamour–perfect for Instagram shots of that carefully curated outfit. The interiors feature burgundy leather sofas, marble details on the bars, and bronze bar stools. Of course, the stars are the cocktails, where guests can choose from Pre-Prohibition, Prohibition, and Post-War cocktails, featuring the classic favourites such as Mallow’s. Otherwise choose from one of the signature cocktails, which use the house-infused gins, such as the Magnifique, a twist on a French 75 with a smooth, floral and herbal flavour. voguelounge.com
This 1940s themed speakeasy requires some preparation beforehand. Call ahead to get your secret code and once you’ve traipsed down to Sukhumvit Rd at Soi 11, look for a telephone booth—that’s the entrance to the bar. Cigar lovers will love the cigar bar and lounge one floor up, and should try the CohibaSiglo 2. In true Cuban fashion, one should try one of the rums on the extensive list, like the Diplomatico Ambassador, or one of the cocktails from either the Pre-Revolution or Post-Revolution period, such as the Fidel’s Nightcap, with Alpus San BaltazarJovenMeccal, house espresso syrup, cherry juice, lime and fresh rosemary. facebook.com/havanasocialbkk
Designed to recreate the 1930’s splendour of Shanghai, Maggie Choo’s is hidden behind a black curtain in a Cantonese restaurant, revealing a bar ten times the size of the restaurant, with private vault doors along dark, old brick walls. This sits in the basement of the Novotel Bangkok Fenix Silom hotel. Be entertained by the themed Corset Cabaret & Ladies’ Night and Chinese Theater Night, and if you choose to splurge, we recommend the Moët &ChandonImpérial. Otherwise, try their signature cocktails like Shanghai Fever, which is a mix of light rum, Grand Marnier, lime juice, homemade coconut cream, Pandanus Orgeat and fresh pineapple juice. maggiechoos.com
©This article was first published in Aug 2018 – World Travel Magazine Online.
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