The buzz: Ashley Sutton’s themed bars range from the orientalist fantasy of Maggie Choo’s to the Dickensian magic of Iron Fairies. His latest creation has a back story that conjures up 1940s America, its pin-up girls, love of chrome, and the young nation’s newfound capacity to drop very, very heavy bombs wherever it pleased. Hence, Bangkok Betty is a bar meant to evoke a bomb factory, with deadly chrome cylinders of all sizes its recurring motif.
The décor: We’re definitely still smack bang in industrial territory with this assortment of heavy machinery and soot-covered brick columns, but the tall floor-to-ceiling bay windows are a far-cry from the subterranean vibe of Maggie Choo’s or Iron Fairies. The plump, shiny chrome bombs, too, feel oddly jovial in contrast with Sutton’s normal preference for black steel—as does the painting of a pin-up looming over the bar. The biggest weapon of mass destruction has landed right in the middle of the bar, making it large enough for a living, breathing 50s-groomed beauty to straddle. Towards the back of the bar, the leather seating, earth-tone walls and darkened corners offer a more intimate vibe.
The drinks/food: As per tradition, drinks are by mixologist Joseph Boroski and are designed to match the Allied Forces vibe with names like Kickapoo Joy Juice (vodka, black currant liqueur, fresh pineapple, watermelon, palm tree sugar, B290), Final Approach (scotch, fresh ginger, lime, lemongrass syrup, B350) and Cyanide for Hitler (absinthe, fresh pineapple, lime, palm tree sugar, griottine cherry, B350). There’s also a full food menu with dishes like flank steak with fire roasted peppers, Portobello mushrooms, pesto and demiglace (B720), heirloom tomato with burrata cheese, Italian basil and pesto (B450) and scallop carpaccio with avocado, bacon crumb, pickled onion and lime oil (B420).
The crowd: Sukhumvit Soi 22 tends to attract its fair share of single white men. But the Holiday Inn (of all hotels) has brought a bit of glamor to this otherwise slightly seedy street ever since the chic and tasty Maya opened, a striking cantilevered Indian restaurant with sweeping views. The area’s future could be more Soi 11 than Soi Cowboy: a mix of expats and cosmopolitan Thais who don’t feel comfortable with the slightly pretentious fashion-driven nightlife scenes of Thonglor and Ari.