This city’s cocktail scene has come a long way since the days of the plain old Manhattan. The menus keep evolving, the lists of ingredients expanding, the methods getting more complex.
In Thong Lo alone, there’s no shortage of great cocktail bars anymore, but the best among them don’t settle for simple mixes—they’ve gone craft, each ingredient, method, and even piece of glassware chosen for specific purposes. Here are the some of the top spots to visit.
Bronx Liquid Parlour
This handsome new space on sleepy Thong Lo 25 occupies the first two floors of a building that once housed a Thai-Chinese restaurant. While award-winning barman Hideyuki Saito, or Hide for short, may tell you he hasn’t changed much since he moved in, don’t be misled: Bronx Liquid Parlour is clearly his brainchild.
Bebop and jazz blast through the speakers, vintage alcohol ads hang on the walls, and dangling Edison bulbs stay dimly lit all night, all nods to the cocktail bar scenes in London, Manhattan, and Tokyo, where Hide cut his teeth before a stint at Vogue Lounge in Sathorn.
But it’s the drinks that set this bar apart. For instance, the Sei, a complex mix of Bacardi Ocho, umeshu, port wine, cacao, molasses, and matcha that tastes strikingly similar to the aromatic green tea sweets found throughout Kyoto.
Bronx Liquid Parlour, G Floor, 8 Thong Lo Soi 25, Bangkok, +66 (02 036 6071, bronxbkk.com
Inspired by Singapore’s 28 Hong Kong Street, Rabbit Hole stays hidden in plain sight. Behind a massive wooden door (without signage) on Thong Lo’s main drag lies one of Bangkok’s best designed bars, three narrow floors of dark leather and exposed beams, accented by a brilliant red-and-gold bottle rack. Looks aren’t everything, of course, but Rabbit Hole hits all the marks in the drinks department, too.
Try the Truffle Martini, a no-nonsense mix of dry vermouth and truffle fat-washed gin, served with an olive. Fat-washing spirits is a time-intensive pursuit, but it gives the martini that deeply earthy aroma that Italian food traditionalists go nuts for, as well as the smooth, dry finish that distinguishes a good martini from an average one.
Rabbit Hole, 125 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thong Lo), Bangkok, +66 (0)98 969 1335, facebook/rabbitholebkk
J. Boroski Mixology
Self-styled “mixsultant” Joseph Boroski is either an icon or an urban legend. He’s been abroad quite a bit lately, opening another speakeasy in Hong Kong, and the location of his namesake Bangkok hideaway remains unpublished, even if it isn’t really that hard to find (odd-numbered single-digit soi on Thong Lo).
Regardless of Mr. Boroski’s clandestine behaviour, those who venture into this low-lit, impeccably designed cocktail haven are treated to some of the most scrupulously crafted drinks in town, where there is no menu and each customer gets only personalised creations.
Although the cocktails are rooftop-level pricy, they’re worth it. Not only are many of the ingredients and methods especially rare—Hudson Rye Whiskey and homemade sous-vide liqueurs, for example—the precision and preparation are always on point.
Building on the bar’s hideaway appeal, Mr. Boroski still keeps the actual location a secret, but here’s a tip: Thong Lo, even-number single-digit soi.
Evil Man Blues
Evil Man Blues, found in Thong Lo’s popular 72 Courtyard, is essentially a silver tube dressed up in purple neon, a sort of post-modern throwback to the 1950s American diner. The cocktails here feature only top-shelf spirits, as well as a handful of the bar’s own infusions.
The bar is led by Liam Baer, a tattooed and bearded bartending veteran from the US, whose Honey Badger, a mix of rosemary-infused bourbon, Chartreuse, honey syrup, ginger, and lemon bitters (available in Bangkok, too), earned a spot on the 101 Best Cocktails list, put out every year by industry giant Gaz Regan. Baer prefers his drinks stiff, and so just about all the cocktails here have some bite to them, but without sacrificing balance.
Evil Man Blues, G/F, 72 Courtyard, 72 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thong Lo), Bangkok, +66 (0)2 392 7740, facebook/EvilManBlues
Ask just about any bartender at the above venues where they go for drinks and they’ll tell you Backstage Bar. That should be reason enough to visit, but sceptics need not worry: the bar is run by six award-winning Thai bartenders, and, at least with their drinks, they mean business.
Beyond classic cocktails with a twist, the team offers frequent specials written on the mirror behind the bar. And the place doesn’t take itself too seriously, either. The design is bombastically Broadway, with bright round bulbs and burlesque-style trappings.
Between the quality of the cocktails, the light-hearted nature of the bartenders, and the playful design, it’s no wonder Playhaus Thong Lo’s theatrical little bar is such a big hit.
Backstage Bar, L/F, Playhaus Thong Lo, 205/22-23 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thong Lo), Bangkok, +66 (0)2 712 5747, facebook/backstagecocktailbarbkk