A few of the top reasons why no one should go thirsty in Bangkok
by Dave Stamboulis
These days it’s not just Gaggan and Nahm making headlines in Bangkok. While the foodie scene gets much of the press, beverages deserve just as much spotlight, with some great options for drinking fine cocktails, craft beers and more, and with some master craftsmen plying their trade behind the bar. Here are a few of the top reasons why no one should go thirsty in Bangkok:
Escapades (112 Phra Athit Rd, Tel. 081 406 3773): It doesn’t look like much. This tiny hole in the wall could pass for your garage, only half the size. But inside you’ll find Karn Liangsrisuk, runner up in the Thailand Best Bartending Competition, mixing craft cocktails the likes of which you’ve never tasted before. The man is an absolute encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to alcohol, tropical fruit, syrup, infusions, and the way to mix them all to perfection. There is no drink menu at Escapades. You just tell Karn what kind of alcohol you like, what you tend to normally drink, and how strong you like it, and he will create something sublime for you. This has to be the only bar in Bangkok serving customized drinks of which two are never alike. Oh, and in case you get hungry, the hovel happens to be a gourmet hamburger joint as well.
Mikkeller (26 Ekkamai Soi 10 Yaek 2, Tel. 02 381 9891): While they aren’t mixing drinks in front of you, the guys at Mikkeller deserve to be on any purveyors of fine alcohol list. Mikkeller had its ori-gins as a gypsy brewer in Denmark, meaning it didn’t operate its own brewery, but rather collaborated with others to create experimental and avant-garde brews. With a branch in Copenhagen and San Francisco, the craft beer gourmets decided to open shop in Bangkok, and they inhabit a lovely old house and garden tucked away in one of the back alleys of Ekkamai, where they serve over 30 hard-to-find craft beers from a rotating tap, as well as run a bottle shop. Sample a bit of Vanilla Shake Imperial Stout, and you’ll be hard pressed to think that you’re drinking beer, as it tastes far more like a fine coffee with a hint of Belgian chocolate.
Regis Bar/Zuma (159 Rajadamri Road, Tel. 02 207-7826 Regis Bar, 02 252-4707 Zuma): You get two choices for sampling some outstanding drinks at the elegant St. Regis Hotel. Upstairs, you’ll find the swank Regis Bar, where they have come up with their own version of the Bloody Mary (which the St. Regis claims to have invented at its New York bar), called the Siam Mary, with spicy chilies and coriander thrown into the tomato juice based mix and served in a silver goblet. They also continue the St. Regis tradition of champagne sabering every night at sunset. Meanwhile, downstairs in the lobby is Zuma, the fusion style Japanese restaurant, whose award-winning bar-tender is constantly coming up with new concoctions. Before charting into the latest creation, make sure to sample the signature “rubabu,” which combines rhubarb infused sake and vodka that is chilled at -42 along with passion fruit and is served as a martini.
Nori’s Bar (Baan 47/1 Bldg, 3rd Fl, Sukhumvit 49, Tel. 085 147 7085): Nori Tsobouchi, the Japanese miracle worker behind Hanakaruta, which popularized handcrafted ice balls and homemade plum wine, decided to open his place and it’s worth a trip to this Soi 49 hole-in-the-wall to see the master at work. Nori makes a variety of homemade umeshu plum wines, creates whisky highball drinks using a variety of fine Japanese brands, and is a serious master craftsman when it comes to alcohol knowledge. Anyone who appreciates good bartending should make a pilgrimage here. The array of single malts and high-end whiskies here is staggering.
And again, there are just a few places to enjoy a thirst-quenching drink in Bangkok.