Travel: Chin-chin in Bangkok

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 12, 2018.

Cloud9 offers awesome aerial views of bustling Sathorn area.

Eat Me has a well-stocked bar and serves Thai cuisine-inspired drinks.

Namsaah Bottling Trust’s cocktails are interpretations of classic concoctions.

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A dynamic metropolitan, Bangkok is constantly evolving, surprising visitors with new highlights. In the evenings, it is heaving with greater action, especially at the bars and clubs found all over the capital. As each of these hotspots offers a unique experience, you will be spoilt for choice. Here are our recommendations on where to pull up at a table, kick back and chin-chin (bottoms up) with inimitable drinks in hand.  

 

Namsaah Bottling Trust

401 Silom Soi 7, Bangkok

Housed in a shocking pink, 100-year-old bungalow, the two-storey structure was originally given to an aide-de-camp at the royal court. It then served as a clubhouse for a bank before being an office for a soda water company, hence the name.

The premises’ latest reincarnation has been spruced up with bright reds, yellows and blues, and decorated with antique mirrors, erotic lithography, Chinese parchments and old brass fans. The result: a look akin to a colonial-style gentlemen’s club and an opium den.

Namsaah Bottling Trust is renowned for cocktails, many of which are unique interpretations of classics such as the Sex on the BTS made using vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry and orange. Must-tries include the Krungthep Cosmo — filled with Absolut mandarin, triple sec, cranberry and citrus; and Sangsom Salted Caramel Whisky Sour with flavours aptly described by its moniker.

 

Cloud9

9/F, 188-188/1 Soi Pipat Silom 2, Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Road, Bangkok

This no-frills rooftop bar at the Haven’t Met Hotel offers awesome aerial views of bustling Sathorn area. The best seats in the house are those facing an entire street with high-rise buildings and a BTS rail line.

The beverage menu includes signature cocktails such as the perky Red Velvet combining tequila with triple sec, pomegranate syrup and a sour mix, complete with a rim of salt and rosemary and topped with pomegranate. For something mellower, the Last Serenade — a blend of gin, elderflower and cucumber syrups, lime juice, angostura bitters and Schweppes tonic, topped with a garnish of cucumber — is recommended.

The music here changes daily, but it is usually soul, hip-hop, techno, mainstream pop or all of the aforementioned.

 

Eat Me

20m off Convent Road (in Soi Pipat 2), Silom, Bangkok

This 20-year-old place predated the rise of Bangkok’s cocktail bar trend. The three-floor restaurant and bar not only offers delicious food but also Thai cuisine-inspired drinks such as the Laab-Moo, a vodka cocktail with shallot, mint, cilantro, roasted rice and Serrano ham. We couldn’t resist signature cocktails such as the delightful Passion Fruit Caipiroska and the refreshing Ginger and  Longan Mojito

Amid the outlet’s exposed industrial beams, dark wood, muted lighting and a downtempo soundtrack, the cosy dining room upstairs has a well-stocked bar at the front, flanked by an outdoor patio for those preferring an al fresco experience. Eat Me also caters to wine lovers with impressive selections from Down Under and Napa Valley, all with a nod to the outlet’s owners’ backgrounds.

 

Vesper

10/15 Convent Road, Silom, Bangkok

Named after James Bonds’ famous Martini, this swish cocktail bar’s attention-grabbing interior combines bare bricks, marble and dark wood. However, the retro-chic look does not distract from the outlet’s cocktail menu called “The Book of Botanicals”, with each drink described according to liquor and specific botanicals used.

The outstanding concoctions available feature local ingredients. For instance, the Ginger Gimlet uses freshly grated ginger cooked sous vide with gin for four hours before serving. The result is a robust ginger counterbalanced by the use of lime and Tanqueray gin, further enhanced with kaffir lime leaf.

The namesake cocktail, the Silver Vesper — a staple in the menu — will appeal to purists with its punchy yet clean flavours. This strong vodka Martini tipple is infused with chamomile and orange bitters, and served with pageantry — it comes in a single-serve crystal decanter, along with a scroll inscribed with the recipe.

Other masculine cocktails include a barrel-aged negroni and a refined Vieux Carre made from Bulleit rye whisky, Hennessy VS, DOM Benedictine liqueur, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters, Peychaud’s bitters and served in a crystal tumbler with a thick piece of ice.  

 

Bottles of Booze

178 Narathiwat Ratchanakarin Road, Silom, Bangkok

Packed with excellent brews, and regular drink deals, this craft beer bar built in the form of a little box emphasises quality offerings, whether those found in the refrigerator or on the shelves. A slender counter with 12 seats line the centre of the outlet, and another counter with six seats along a large window facing the Chong Nonsi BTS station. A food truck parked next to the bar serves as an external kitchen.

Drink your way around the world with cult favourites such as Oskar Blues IPA, Stone Go To IPA and Heretic Lager sold alongside local names including Yod Beer Bearnana Stout and Chalawan Pale Ale. Try Thai-made spirits such as Lamoon and Lamai rums — officially “white spirits” — made from sugar cane in Lamphun province. There’s a 50 Thai baht (RM6.21) surcharge for every brew you buy to drink inside, but the fee is waived when you order up to any six bottles.