Bangkok’s Top Four Bars

These days, cocktails and the establishments that make them are serious business. From hotel bars steeped in history to mysterious Shanghainese –themed hole-in-the-walls, here are a couple of spots in the Thai capital on the inaugural list of Asia’s Best Bars Awards 2016 .

1. Vesper

In the business of bars, a strategic location along with fantastic drinks almost always assures a venue’s popularity. Judging by its central Silom address, half-hidden away on busy Soi Convent, Vesper , ranked 17th on the Asia’s Best Bars Awards list, the highest Thai entry, has nailed these basics. Owners Choti Leenutaphong and Debby Tang have assigned bar duties to manager Wareewan and her team, all of whom are pretty adept at rolling out crowd-pleasing cocktails like the Secret Earl Grey composed of Earl Grey, Tanqueray, egg white, grapefruit bitters; as well as the seductively named Tanqueray and Kettle One vodka-based Silver Vesper that goes straight to the head as one sits by the window, watching the constant street traffic swish past.

2. Maggie Choo's

Designer Ashley Sutton’s aesthetic is often unconventional and always worthy of a grasp or two. One of his most renowned creations, the legendary Maggie Choo’s , purportedly named after a Shanghainese lady who fled to Bangkok in the 30s, tucked beneath the Novotel Bangkok Fenix Silom , unearths Sutton’s predilection towards Shanghai of that era replete with opium dens, underworld atmosphere, and jazz bars that open till late. Capping the Asia’s Best Bars Awards list at number 50, Maggie Choo’s has its drinks devised by master bartender Joseph Boroski who incidentally, owns J. Boroski, a hidden bar down a Sukhumvit lane, which is not on this year’s list. But perhaps it should have been.

3. Hyde & Seek

Placed at 41 on the Asia’s Best Bars Awards list is Hyde & Seek, a spot responsible for stoking the city’s penchant for extended weekend brunches.  Both the food by chefs Ian Kittichai and Peter Pitakwong and the drinks at this gastro bar including the cheekily named ‘Bang Coax’, made from rock candy and floral-infused Tanqueray, fernet branca, and citrus, have be racking up column inches in the city’s glossiest publications.

4. The Bamboo Bar

The illustrious Bamboo Bar at Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok requires no introduction; its pedigree forged by the thousands of tales retold by international visitors to the Thai capital since the bar’s opening back in 1947. Ranked 34th  on Asia’s Best Bars Awards list for 2016, this grand dame recently underwent some cosmetic refreshment; its interiors retaining a sophisticated yet primal vibe. Bartender Sompong Boonsri, who has worked here for over 30 years, and one imagines, probably has a couple of legendary anecdotes up his sleeve, continues to create classic drinks like the Thaijito, a potent mix of Mekhong rum, brown sugar cane, lemongrass, lime and fresh ginger.

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Published 7th April 2016