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BK B.A.D. Awards 2017 announces Bangkok's absolute best bars

BK's debut B.A.D. (Bangkok After Dark) guide launched with an awards night on Nov 22 at Mojjo rooftop bar, Compass Skyview Hotel, in an event that welcomed over 200 guests comprised of bar-owners, mixology talents, drink industry professionals and BK Magazine partners. Find out which bars come out top in Bangkok’s newest drinking bible.

By BK staff | Nov 22, 2017

  • BK B.A.D. Awards 2017 announces Bangkok's absolute best bars
    Teens of Thailand
So, how does a practically unknown bar tucked below someone’s house end up being named Best on Thonglor? What made us arrive at a list of the top four Silom drinking spots that puts swanky cocktail joints on equal terms with smoky izakayas? Well, we’ll tell you. Because of an arduous, month-long voting process that, when completed, resulted in a spreadsheet of data that looked more impenetrable than the Enigma Code. 
 
Unlike most of the bar awards out there, we didn’t just look at drinks and who makes the best cocktails. We looked at everything: the crowd; the music; where serves spirits for less than their neighbors; which places make you feel effortlessly at home. In an age when everyone has a carefully curated list of craft beers or a bartender who knows his Manhattan from his Brooklyn, bars need something truly special if they’re going to stand out. They need atmosphere.
 
We’re confident that every name in the debut BK B.A.D. Awards has just that, whether they’re a winner or a runner up. Like any awards, there are bound to be some controversies, and even we’re sad that a few of our favorite watering holes didn’t make the cut. But that’s just testament to how awesome the bar scene in Bangkok has become.

So whether you’re after a wild night clubbing, the best drinks in town, or simply to sit with a stogie and a good single-malt, rest assured that the BK B.A.D. Awards has you covered.

We’ll see you at the bar!


Jump to:

Bar of the Year  |  Best New Bar  |   Best Drinks  |   Best Thonglor/Ekkamai Bar  |  Best Sukhumvit Bar   |  Best Charoenkrung/Chinatown Bar   |  Best Siam/Phloen Chit Bar  |  Best Silom Bar Best Sathorn Bar  |  Best Ari Bar  |  Best Jazz Bar  |  Best Nightclub  |  Best Cigar Lounge  |  Best Wine Bar  |  Best Dive Bar  |  Best Beer Bar  |  Best Speakeasy  |  Best Single Spirit Bar  |  Most Creative Drinks  |  Best Bar Food  |  Best Happy Hour  |  Best Design  |  Best Live Music Venue  |  Best Rooftop Bar


Key

 = The Crowd

 = The Decor 

 = The Drinks

 = The Prices

 = The Music


BAR OF THE YEAR

Teens of Thailand

4 3.5 4 3.5 3.5

Soi Nana was buzzing well before Teens of Thailand opened its doors, but no venue on the street has made as much impact on Bangkok’s bar scene. Built from the remains of a near-crumbling shop-house, the venue’s haunting Indian-style door and sticker-starred exterior concrete walls are a loud-andproud counter to speakeasy cocktail culture. Co-owner and mixologist Niks Anuman-Rajadhon stockpiles an apocalypse-ready supply of gin, while venue’s small, dimly-lit room gets rammed every weekend.

76 Soi Nana, 081-443-3784, 096-846- 0506. Open Mon-Thu, Sun 7pm-midnight, Fri-Sat 7pm-1am

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BEST NEW BAR

Blaq Lyte

4 3 2.5 3 4.5

Here to give Bangkok’s clubbing scene a fresh, turnt look, Blaq Lyte foregoes the Bangkok obsession with techno or crappy EDM, playing only modern hip-hop (no mellow, old-school stuff). You can also forget glamorous, hi-so decor. Playfully underground, Blaq Lyte defines the vibe for a new generation of bright-haired Bangkok clubbers decked out in lit sportwear. The 28-year-old owner, Nick Supreda, also donates his profits to 32 Foundation, an initiative he created to help Thai orphans.

2/F, Badmotel, 331/4-5 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 098-253-9356. Open Tue-Sun 9pm-2am

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BEST DRINKS

Locker Room

3 2.5 4 3 2

Once you’ve figured out how to open the door, you will be blessed with a drink list set in the “Past, Present and Future.” Hidetsugo Ueno from Bar High Five in Tokyo took part choosing six of his favorite classic cocktails for the menu, while Colin Chia from Nutmeg & Clove (Singapore) collaborated with Nick Wu (third in the World Class Cocktail Competition 2016) to add their “Present” versions with infusion twists. Ronnaporn “Neung” Kanivichaporn from our own Backstage Bar (see Most Creative Drink List), meanwhile, graced the drinks with high-wire methods like sous-vide in his “Future” adaptations. Plus, they taste so outstanding that you don’t have to be a cocktail-snob to enjoy them.

JIA Thonglor, 225/15 Thonglor Soi 10, 092-895-3689. Open daily 8pm-2am

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BEST THONGLOR / EKKAMAI BAR

12x12 | WINNER!

4 4 3 3.5 4

Once you’ve squeezed yourself through the low side entrance into what was once someone’s home, you’ll be greeted with a post-apocalyptic world of low-lit bric-a-brac that somehow all works. You can thank Japanese owner Hiroshi Matsui for the organic style and music lineup of world beats mixed with electronic sounds and disco vinyl. With an energy that beats most of the bars we’ve visited in Bangkok, 12x12 defines what makes a good dive bar—eclectic crowd, cheap, no-nonsense drinks, and tunes that dare to be different.

810/22 Thonglor Soi Thararom 2, 094- 260-4713. Open Tue-Sat 8pm-2am

Blaq Lyte

4 3 2.5 3 4.5

Breathing new life into the Bangkok club scene by playing only straight-up hip-hop, Blaq Lyte still manages to draw one of the most eclectic crowds on Thonglor. With cheap drinks and access to the good old Badmotel drinking terrace, it’s no surprise it’s one of the most packed, and diverse, spots on the strip.

2/F, Badmotel, 331/4-5 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 098-253-9356. Open Tue-Sun 9pm-2am

WTF

4 3.5 3 3.5 4

Years after Somrak Sila and Christopher Wise kickstarted the bar-meets-gallery shop-house thing, WTF remains the go-to place around Thonglor for a cultured but hard-drinking crowd. Low-level indie tunes hum amid Portuguese-inspired decor, though most of the patrons tend to smoke, chat and drink out on the street.

7 Sukhumvit Soi 51, 02-662-6246. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-1am

Studio Lam

4 4 3 3 5

Live molam and ya dong make a potent pairing at this barebones enclave tucked off Sukhumvit. With nights dedicated to everything from Ethio-jazz to modern boogie, you won’t find a more esoteric soundtrack in town—nor a cooler crowd, who when not cutting shapes on the cramped dancefloor can be found smoking streetside, Beerlao in hand.

3/1 Sukhumvit Soi 51, 02-261-6661. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-2am

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BEST SUKHUMVIT BAR

Havana Social | WINNER!

3 3.5 3 3 3

Providing Bangkokians with a reason to still go down Sukhumvit Soi 11, the Cuba-referencing salsa speakeasy pulls in the neighborhood’s best crowd. Latin beats make way for foot-tapping chart fodder as the night wears on—and the telephone entry thingy has gotten old very quickly—but there’s still nowhere we’d rather drink around Nana-Asoke.

Sukhumvit Soi 11, 061-450-3750. Open daily 6pm-2am

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Coastal

4 3 3.5 3 4

Basically just a bamboo shack on the lawn of Kram restaurant, Coastal serves tropical cocktails that demand you to get drunk in the daytime while spread out on one of their easygoing lawn chairs—perfect for curing your hangover and quietly catching up with friends from Blaq Lyte the night before.

113 Sukhumvit Soi 39, 098-253-9356. Open Tue-Fri 6pm-midnight, Sat-Sun 3pm-1am

Q&A

2.5 4 4 2 3.5

Head barman Vipop Jinaphan (also see Sugar Ray, Best Speakeasy) pours drinks to be genuflected on at his gloriously polished bar. That might mean burning seaweed over mezcal and mixing the results with almond syrup for an intensely umami taste sensation, or cognac blended with cloves and ginger for something sweet and spicy.

235/13 Sukhumvit Soi 21, 02-664-1445. Open daily 7pm-2am

Hanakaruta

3.5 3.5 4 3.5 2.5

Hanakaruta provides one of Bangkok’s ultimate Japanese whiskey experiences. If 21-year-old Hibiki is too rich for your blood, try some of the house-infused plum wines—or the hundreds of sakes and shochus that line one of the city’s most imposing (and beautifully wood-paneled) back bars.

Sathorn Soi 10, 097-140-7403. Open Mon-Sat 6pm-2am

36/4 Sukhumvit Soi 39, 02-662-7339. Open daily 6pm-2am

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BEST CHAROENKRUNG / CHINATOWN BAR

Teens of Thailand | WINNER!

4.5 3.5 4 3.5 3.5

Teens of Thailand put Bangkok’s Chinatown on the map—plain and simple. Inspired by the mayhem-causing teenagers who rumbled through the area’s backstreets for decades, the bar’s gloomy dark wood front door, bare brick walls and vintage knick-knacks create an edgy, no-frills vibe. Its collection of gin and nightly-rotating cocktail menu are among Bangkok’s best.

76 Soi Nana, 081-443-3784, 096- 846-0506. Open Mon-Thu, Sun 7pm-midnight, Fri-Sat 7pm-1am

FooJohn

3.5 4 3.5 3 3.5

This beautifully eclectic hub of creative types offers three unique experiences: pull up a seat in the Hong Kong diner-referencing downstairs booths to knock back the best-priced vin de pays in town; head to the second floor for live lounge music amid moody, neo-noir lighting; or book a seat at the rooftop smokehouse for Texas-style barbecue.

831 Charoenkrung Soi 31, 085-527-3511. Open Wed-Sun 6pm-midnight

Soulbar

4 3.5 3 3.5 4

Drinking at Talad Noi’s bohemian live music bar feels like being invited into a band’s recording studio. As you knock back gin sours or bottles of Beerlao, the best soul musicians in the city jam on a stage that puts audience and artists on equal turf—little surprise it’s packed every weekend.

945 Charoenkrung Rd., 093-220- 0441, 095-593-9661. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-midnight

Tropic City

3 4 3.5 3 4

Two guys formerly from swanky Sathorn cocktail joints make a splash with a menu that’s all about rum and tropical flavors. With its white-washed bricks, mid-century furniture and colorful Portuguese tiles, Tropic City is a lesson in “now”—tasteful trends pulled together by genuinely under-theradar edge, as well as awesome new-school tropical cocktails without a pina colada in sight. Charoenkrung Soi 28, 091-870- 9825. Open Wed-Sun 7pm-1am

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BEST SIAM / PHLOEN CHIT BAR

Penthouse | WINNER!

2.5 4 4 4.5 3.5

Walnut woods, marble, tufted leathers and cut mirrors paint a very masculine picture at the Park Hyatt hotel’s sky-high cocktail lounge. What we truly love, though, are the prices. At about B300 for a South Side (gin, lime, simple syrup and mint), you’re looking at sub-Thonglor cocktail lounge prices at a five-star hotel rooftop.

34-36/F, Park Hyatt, 88 Wireless Rd., 02-012-1234. Open daily noon-2:30pm, 5:30pm-midnight

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Riedel

2.5 3 4 3.5 3

Gaysorn’s ultra-fancy wine bar boasts one of Bangkok’s largest selections by the glass thanks to a state-of-the-art wine dispenser. Its lavish interior, with elegant open-pore wooden tables and swooping circular booths, stirs well with the prim-and-proper types who drink and eat here. With that said, the wine list isn’t as wallet-damaging as you might expect.

2/F, Gaysorn Village, 999 Phloen Chit Rd., 02- 656-1133. Open daily 10am-midnight

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Hyde & Seek

2.5 2.5 3.5 3 3

The cocktail space that looks more like a pub is still one of Bangkok’s best spots for the golden hours when a boozy brunch transforms into a big night out. That sun-dappled terrace made for shucking oysters in the daylight gives way to a dark and club-like restaurant come nightfall. Given this place has launched dozens of mixology talents, rest assured the drinks pack a punch.

Athenee Residence, 65/1 Soi Ruamrudee, Wireless Rd., 02-168- 5152-3. Open Mon-Fri 11am-2pm, 5pm-1am; Sat-Sun 5pm-1am

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Hair of the Dog

2.5 2.5 4.5 4 2

If you ever wanted to drink craft beer from the comfort of a surgical table, this is your chance. Don’t let the haunted hospital vibe fool you—this is a respectable beer-guzzling alcove. You’ll run into heaps of US expats thanks to a solid on-tap selection, beer-friendly American food and blaring ’90s rock.

2/F, Mahatun Plaza, 888/26 Phloen Chit Rd.; 02-650- 7589. Open daily 5pm-midnight

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BEST SILOM BAR

Whiteline | WINNER!

3 3 2.5 3 3.5

Four stories of abandoned warehouse cool welcome a lineup that goes big on underground UK acts, as well as the best local DJs. Chill and drink downstairs amid stereotypically urban graffiti murals and raw concrete walls, before later heading up to the second floor’s Safe Room—a nightclub hidden in the bowels of the crumbling building.

Silom Soi 8, 087-061-1117. Open Thu-Sun 7pm-midnight

Vesper

3.5 3.5 4 3 3.5

This tasteful balance between gentlemen’s club and European bistro has long held appeal among Silom’s serious cocktail crowd. The arrival of head bartender Supawit “Palm” Muttarattana brought welcome additions to the renowned “Art Book” drink menu, which includes must-try barrel-aged cocktails, while the elegant atmosphere and produce-driven food are as good as ever.

10/15 Convent Rd., 02-235-2777. Open daily 5:30pm-2am

Maggie Choo’s

2.5 4 2.5 2.5 3

The groups of European tourists in tight colored trousers may detract from the underground Chinoiserie mystique somewhat, but this is still Silom’s most visually stunning bar. With an up-to-the-minute soundtrack and a solid cocktail list of reinvented classics, those button-tufted leather couches are as tempting as ever. Every Sunday, shirtless six-pack men take to the upholstered swings for what’s become one of the city’s most swinging gay nights.

Hotel Novotel Bangkok Fenix Silom, 320 Silom Rd., 091- 772-2144. Open Daily 7:30pm-2am

Shakariki 432

4 3 3 4 N/A

Book in advance to beat Soi Thaniya’s hard-drinking Japanese expats to a seat at the neighborhood’s most happening izakaya (Japanese tavern). With delicious drinking snacks (decadent octopus dumplings, steaming hot pots, thick-cut sashimi) and beer deals that’ll get you drunk on a budget, there’s no surprise that Shakariki’s rickety wood interior always roars with life.

Surawong Rd., 02-637-0927. Open Sun-Thu 5pm-3am, Fri-Sat 5pm-5am

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BEST SATHORN BAR

Smalls | WINNER!

4.5 4.5 3 2.5 4

Where did Harry Styles and that one off Narcos prop up the bar when in Bangkok? The answer: nightlife kingpin David Jacobson’s bohemian drinking den, where eclectic music roars, guests knock back absinthe, and Bangkok’s hospitality industry has basically set up a gin-soaked home-from-home for itself. Last-Thursday-of-the-month pho night is a must-book event, while Wednesdays welcome some of the best jazz musicians in town.

186/3 Suan Phlu Soi 1, 095-585-1398. Open Mon, Wed-Sun 7:30pm-2am

Vogue Lounge

2.5 4.5 4 3.5 3

The neighborhood’s most luxurious cocktail bar channels ‘20s glamour through plum leathers, acres of brass and marble paneling. Outdoors, the air-conditioned terrace sits in the midst of downtown Bangkok’s skyscrapers, where well-heeled guests sip on boozy, floral punches and eat fancified comfort food like teriyaki sliders and premium cold cuts.

6/F, MahaNakhon Cube, 96 Narathiwat Ratchanakarin Rd., 02-001-0697. Open daily 5pm-2am

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Junker and Bar

4 2.5 3.5 5 3.5

A renovation saw this Suan Phlu staple double in size, but don’t expect an easy time getting a table. It remains packed most nights with neighborhood drinkers looking to run through a gin-leaning cocktail list designed by owner Bard Passapong, or knock back Thai craft beers and chow down on hefty, no-nonsense burgers.

454 Suan Phlu Soi 1, 085-100-3608. Open Tue-Sun 9am-midnight

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Marcel Bar & Bistro

3.5 3 3.5 3 3

This slender Gallic bistro is often buzzing with a mix of locals and foreigners, many of whom are Francophones looking to sip on its solid collection of wines and rotating cocktail list. At night, the electro house soundtrack turns up and the central bar becomes a lively hearth for the rest of the house.

28/12 Sathorn Soi 10, 02-635-353. Open Mon-Fri 6pm-midnight, Sat-Sun noon-midnight

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BEST ARI BAR

O’glee | WINNER!

4.5 3 5 4 4.5

The typical Irish bar exterior hides a hipster haven that has Ari’s coolest residents packing in every night for the vast selection of beers. Treacle-like black porters from Mikkeller stand alongside Beervana’s hoppiest new American imports on an ever-rotating lineup of beer taps, while the upbeat soundtrack hits all the right pre-party notes—as do the garlic fries and affordable beef steak.

Ari Soi 1, 064-146-4983. Open Mon-Sat 5:30pm-midnight.

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Dok Kaew House Bar

3.5 4 4 4 2

As well as a selection of craft beers rivaled only by O’glee (see above) in this part of town, Baan Dok Kaew has an amazing back story. Creepy claims of ghost sightings haunt the 80-year-old wooden house, which retains all its rickety charm. The spicy Thai comfort food isn’t bad, either.

71 Rama 6 Soi 28, 096-886-4104. Open Thu-Tue 5pm-midnight

Pakalolo

3.5 3.5 4 3.5 3.5

One of Bangkok’s first new-school tropical bars, Pakalolo takes its Hawaiian theme and adds a dose of the Florida Keys. If you hadn’t guessed from the look, this place isn’t for beardy, spirit-forward bores. Order the Lilia for a sweet, elderflower-and-thyme hit spiked with pear vodka and gin.

Ari Soi 4, 02-075-0939. Open SunWed 5pm-midnight, Thu-Sat 5pm-1am

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Salt

3.5 4.5 3.5 3 3

These things we know: the sun will rise, the sun will set and Salt’s glass box, alfresco terrace and wooden house will be packed with Ari’s beautiful 20-somethings. A meal of sushi and wood-fired pizza sets the foundation for deceptively strong fruity cocktails and well-priced wine, all served up to an of-the-minute, popsanova-free soundtrack. This cool season, there are few other places we’d rather be.

Ari Soi 4, 02-619-6886. Open daily 5pm-midnight

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BEST JAZZ BAR

Saxophone | WINNER!

3.5 3.5 3 3 4.5

Steps away from the frantic bustle of Victory Monument’s street vendors, this three-decade-old jazz bar is no less lively inside. Surrounded by red brick walls and with barely a window in sight, the city’s jazz and reggae old guard—Koh Mr. Saxman (Mon), T-Bone (Fri)—perform face-to-face to a rapt audience who sip on draft beer poured into the bar’s signature saxophone-shaped ceramic tankards.

3/8 Phaya Thai Rd., 02-245-3592, 02-246-5472. Open daily 6pm-2am

Bamboo Bar

2 4.5 4.5 2 3.5

Since it opened in 1953, Mick Jagger, Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn have all pulled up a rattan chair amid its stylish jungle motifs and seductively tropical decor to enjoy the smoky sounds of visiting jazz legends (who take the stage at 8pm nightly). Even Ray Charles is rumored to have jammed with the house band in 1977.

1/F, Mandarin Oriental, 48 Charoenkrung Soi 40 (Oriental Avenue), 02-659-9000. Open Sun-Thu 5pm- 1am, Fri-Sat 5pm-2am

Brown Sugar

3.5 3 3 3 4

The Phra Sumen institution offers classic Western comfort food and cocktails, and live performances by quality local jazz bands dominated by finalists of The Voice Thailand like Tissue Paper and Attention Please. Performances run from 8:30pm from Tue-Sun.

469 Phra Sumen Rd., 081-805- 7759. Open Tue-Thu 5pm- 1am, FriSat 5pm-2am, Sun 5pm-1am

Black

2.5 2.5 2 3.5 4

There’s no arguing with the trumpet-playing chops of owner Idris Dawud, whose father played with Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk. Complementing the smoky voices and moody tunes is decor whose blue lighting and raw brick walls channel New York jazz cliches.

8 Thonglor Soi 25, 096-989-1820. Tue-Sun 8:30pm-2am

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BEST NIGHTCLUB

Beam | WINNER!

3 3.5 2 1.5 4

Despite some new competition across the street, this is still Bangkok’s showpiece nightclub. The main room upstairs features a “body kinetic” dance floor that pumps vibrations into dancers’ feet while live DJs push booming deep house and techno tracks through a world-class sound system. The inside feels minimal and raw with exposed rafters, simple concrete walls and tons of dance room. Don’t expect anything more than standard club mixers in the drinks department, though.

72 Courtyard, 72 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 02-392-7750. Open Wed-Sat 9pm-2am

Blaq Lyte

4 3 2.5 3 4.5

Where did the crowd at Dark Bar go when Ekkamai’s underground institution closed? Here, where they were greeted by new, young Millennial clubbers who know what real hip-hop should sound like. If you’re looking to dance around a bottle of Johnnie Black, go back to Arena 10.

2/F, Badmotel, 331/4-5 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 098-253-9356. Open Tue-Sun 9pm-2am

Sing Sing

2.5 4 3 2 3

Stepping inside Ashley Sutton’s nightclub creation conjures feelings of classic Shanghai—at least as the Western world imagines it. Wander outside its tiny dance floor through a maze of staircases, secret passages and sunken floors to find one of its bars, which serve, among other things, drinks containing Iron Balls, Sutton’s own gin.

Sukhumvit Soi 45 (next to Quince), 063-225-1331. Open Tue-Thu, Sun 9pm-2am, Fri-Sat 9pm-3am

Glow

3 2 2 2.5 4

With its tight, dark quarters, swooping neon lights and crushing bass-heavy music, Glow feels trapped in an early 2000s rave time capsule. But it’s a winning recipe for scores of locals, expats and tourists thanks to its late hours and consistent lineup of solid electronic acts.

96/4-5 Sukhumvit Soi 23, 086-614- 3355. Open Wed-Sun 9:30pm-3am

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BEST CIGAR LOUNGE

Duke | WINNER!

2.5 3.5 4 2.5 3

Whether you want cigars from Cuba, the Dominican Republic or other prominent producers, they’ll have it. It’s also an art gallery, showcasing local talent whose work stretches from eye-catching papier-mache sculptures to grand, statement oil paintings. Big-spenders take out membership packages, which run into the hundreds of thousands and furnish you with ample credit at the bar.

1/F, Gaysorn Village, 999 Phloen Chit Rd., 080-587-9520, 094-647- 8888. Open daily 11am-midnight

Character

2.5 3 4 2 2

As if Aqua weren’t exclusive enough, it’s now also home to this Oriental Express-inspired den of cigars and single malts. From servers who feel more like personal butlers, order up South American smokes to go with your favorite decades-old Scotch.

Anantara Siam, 153/2 Mahatlek Luang Soi 1, 02-254-4726. Open MonSat 1pm-midnight

Whisgars

2 2.5 3.5 3 2.5

With exposed brick walls, imitation chesterfields and an interior that’s every shade of dark brown possible, this cigar lounge is like a modern take on the classic gentleman’s club. It packs out with professionals and moneyed big shots who come to down fine single malts from across all the major Scottish whiskey regions and puff on quality non-Cubans plucked from its walk-in humidor.

16 Sukhumvit Soi 23, 02-661-3220, 02-664-4252. Open daily 1pm-2am

The Balvenie Bar

2 3 4 3 2

Lurking in the rafters above a cigar and spirits-specializing boutique, this offshoot bar from the renowned Speyside whiskey lets you pull up a rich, tobacco-leather wingback and knock back 35-year-old single malts with some of the best smokes from Latin America.

2/F, Cohiba Atmosphere, 63/3 Soi Ruamrudee, Phloen Chit Rd., 02-650-9009. Open Mon-Sat noon-midnight

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BEST WINE BAR

Riedel | WINNER!

2.5 3 4 3.5 3
 
Don’t be too intimidated by the astronomically expensive-looking decor and classy Austrian glassware from which the venue gets its name—mere mortals can afford to drink here without sending their credit card into panic mode. There are more than 40 by-the-glass options thanks to a fancy, high-tech wine dispenser by the entrance. A respectable medley of old-school cocktails and Italian-Mediterranean tapas also elevate things above pure wine-and-cheese territory. 
 
2/F, Gaysorn Village, 999 Phloen Chit Rd., 02-656-1133. Open daily 10am-midnight
 

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About Eatery

3 3 4 3 2.5
 
With its phonebook-thick menu and chalkboards scrawled with notes on viniculture, aging processes and pairing tips, this rusticated wine bistro is as much about getting educated as it is about getting sozzled. Working only with organic, biodynamic and sustainable producers means rare tastes abound, as in the selection of “orange” wine, an ancient tradition that’s having a resurgence.
 
G/F, Ocean Tower 2, Asoke Soi 3, 02-665-2772. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm, Sun-Thu 5:30-11pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-midnight
 

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Quince

3 3.5 4 3.5 3.5
 
Is there anything Quince can’t do well? Mediterranean dinners, coffee dates, complex cocktails, lazy brunches and, yes, awesome wines at the right price. Partner Kim Wachtveitl’s day job sees him fraternizing with the best small-batch producers in the world to bring their prod-ucts to Bangkok, making Quince a hub for local oenophiles.
 
Sukhumvit Soi 45, 02-662-4478. Open Sun-Thu 11:30am-mid-night, Fri-Sat 11:30am-1am
 

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La Casa Nostra

3.5 3.5 4 4 3
 
Coming from the team that supplies wine to L’Atelier, Suhring and Gaggan, it’s little surprise that this finely polished Italian restaurant has an incredible cellar at unbeatable prices. Don’t let the luxurious, sophisticated surroundings fool you into thinking it’s for dinner guests only—the beautiful stone bar is perfect for nursing a knock-out Burgundy.

22 Sathorn Soi 1 Yaek 2 (Soi Goethe), 02-287-2402. Open daily 11:30am-midnight

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BEST DIVE BAR

Jam | WINNER!

4 3.5 2.5 5 4.5

Drinking next to an expressway is rarely as fun as at this ramshackle Surasak shop-house, where subversive art lines the walls, cheap wine pours from the cardboard cask and two chill resident dogs patrol the vicinity. Cult movie screenings, retro gaming nights and gigs from young up and comers add to the arty outsider vibes.

41 Charoen Rat Soi 1, 089-889- 8059. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-midnight

12x12

4 4 3 3.5 4

Hidden down a secluded soi off Thonglor, this Japanese-run bar is basically a hipster’s wet dream—super-cool without even trying. Two vintage motorbikes mark the entrance. Duck inside and you’ll be greeted by achingly hip world music and shots of potent, vodka-and-Tabasco concoctions. 

810/22 Thonglor Soi Thararom 2, 094- 260-4713. Open Tue-Sat 8pm-2am

Fatty’s Bar and Diner

4 3.5 3.5 4 3.5

Burnt orange walls crawling with band posters, Polaroid snaps and the odd musical instrument set the scene for this most American of American diners way out on Rama 9. Fatty’s burgers, craft beers and rocking soundtrack have found a fervent following among expats well accustomed to arguing loudly over such things.

598/66 Asoke Din Daeng Rd., 081- 438-7221, 02-245-2965. Open Tue-Sun 11am-midnight

Wong’s

2 1.5 2.5 3.5 3.5

Nights out in Wong’s red-lit corridor of drunken expats and party boys are a Bangkok rite of passage, the after-dark, bleary-eyed equivalent to visiting Wat Pho. Make sure you have a drink in your hands at all times, since the staff are quick to kick out anyone who’s glass is empty.

Soi Sribumphen, Rama 4 Rd., 081-901-0235, 02-286-1558. Open daily 9pm-late

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BEST BEER BAR

Mikkeller | WINNER!

3.5 4 4 3.5 4

While its younger counterpart upstairs is known as one of the fancier restaurants in town, the original beer house on the bottom floor is about as casual as it gets, with unassuming blond wood tables, bare white walls and lots of space to move around. Its 30-strong on-tap selection of craft beer is one of Bangkok’s largest, as is the menu of 250-plus bottled beers.

26 Ekkamai Soi 10, 091-713-9034, 02- 381-9891. Open daily 5pm-midnight

Bottles of Beer

3.5 2.5 4 4 2.5

A wall of fridges holds just about the biggest selection of brews in town at this bottle-shop-meets-beer-bar. And the best bit? Buy any six bottles and you get takewaway prices even if you’re drinking at the bar. Make sure you order up some of the awesome grilled chicken to go with.

2/7 Sukhumvit Soi 34, 02-040- 0473. Open daily 5pm-midnight

Taproom

3 3 3.5 3.5 2.5

Duck behind Sukhumvit Soi 26’s Casa Lapin to find this buzzing temple of niche brews, its 26 taps always hooked up to something new and fresh. The environment is friendly, weekdays see live acoustic bands take the stage, and come the weekend the place kicks into party atmosphere with DJs. 

51 Sukhumvit Soi 26, 087-460-2626. Open daily 5pm-midnight

Hair of the Dog

2.5 2.5 4.5 4 2

The somewhat creepy-feeling hospital decor might seem strange from the perch of social media, but hordes of scrutinous Bangkok beer-heads count this as one of the city’s best brew haunts. Its modest but well-curated selection features globe-spanning flavors, like the wobble-causing Selassie stout and a homebrew turned international success called Nebuchadnezzar IPA.

2/F, Mahatun Plaza, 888/26 Phloen Chit Rd.; 02-650- 7589. Open daily 5pm-midnight.

Other branch: 593/27 Sukhumvit Soi 33/1 (Phrom Phong), 02-258-1461

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BEST SPEAKEASY

Locker Room | WINNER!

3 2.5 4 3 2

As far as “speakeasy” gimmicks go, the wall of gym lockers that hides this meticulous little den of craft libations stands apart. Once you’ve found your way in, prop up the bar and partake in boozy concoctions designed by four of Asia’s top bartenders, including our own Ronnaporn “Neung” Kanivichaporn from Backstage Bar 

JIA Thonglor, 225/15 Thonglor Soi 10, 092-895-3689. Open daily 8pm-2am

Q&A

2.5 4 4 2 3.5

With its devilishly discreet entrance (first visit we made, we spent 10 minutes ringing the neighboring apartment’s doorbell), Q&A perfectly captures the off-the-radar aura of any good speakeasy—which it then complements with truly sensational cocktails made to the most demanding specifications.

235/13 Sukhumvit Soi 21, 02-664-1445. Open daily 7pm-2am

Sugar Ray

2.5 4 3 2 3

By doing away with any formal bar, Sugar Ray feels more like drinking at a friend’s dining room table—one who lives in a moody, candlelit loft dripping with eclectic bric-a-brac. Fridays see chauffeured minivans pulling up to drop off Thonglor’s beau monde, who come to sip on serious, spirit-heavy concoctions.

Baan Ekkamai, Ekkamai Soi 21, 094-417-9898. Open Wed, Fri-Sat 7pm-2am

Ku Bar

2.5 4 3.5 4 3.5

Other bartenders whose opinions we have a lot of time for tell us that nowhere else in Bangkok man-ages to pack such intense flavors into their house infusions than Ku Bar. The results speak for themselves, poured from a meticulously crafted marble and blond-wood bar that playfully contrasts the otherwise stark, concrete space.

3/F, 469 Phra Sumen Rd., 02-067-6731. Open Thu-Sun 7pm-midnight

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BEST SINGLE SPIRIT BAR

Teens of Thailand | WINNER!

4 3.5 4 3.5 3.5
 
Niks Anuman-Rajadhon’s ground-breaking venue in Soi Nana also made history as the city’s first gin bar. Competition among Bangkok’s single-spirit players has intensified since, but the breadth of options here (classics like Hendrick’s and rarer finds like Hanami) makes for one of the most impressive collections in town. The venue’s small, dimly-lit room gets packed quickly, but the bar team seems to never have off nights and flex their creativity with a rotating cocktail menu.
 
76 Soi Nana, Charoenkrung Rd., 081-443- 3784, 096-846-0506. Open Mon-Thu, Sun 7pm-midnight, Fri-Sat 7pm-1am

Orihara Shoten

2.5 4 3 2 3
 
At Ekkamai’s sleek sake bar, Japanese salary-men in full suit and tie drink alongside a more creative, though equally hard-partying, expat crowd. While the recurring Sake + Sound events add a pop of color to the blond-wood surrounds, the real reason to visit is the mouthwatering rice wine selection—some 100 bottles and counting. The yakitori (chicken skewers) at adjoining sister restaurant Tori Tama is to-die-for, too. 
 
Park Lane, Sukhumvit Soi 63 (Ekkamai), 02-382- 0131. Open Mon-Sat 5pm-midnight
 

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Just a Drink (Maybe)

4 3 2.5 3 4.5
 
Back in April, Taiwanese expat Herman Wu was a totally new name on the Bangkok cocktail bar scene. At his friendly Thonglor gin bar, you can find a collection of over 100 labels from around the world. If you don’t see your favorite behind the bar then show him a picture—he hides plenty more bottles upstairs. 
 
44/3 Thonglor Soi 1, 02-023-7285. Open Tue-Sun 5pm-1am

Tropic City

3 2 2 2.5 4
 
Amid floral motifs, this bar deals in hard-hitting rum concoctions. Their KL to BKK is made from ferment-ing pineapple and clove into an ungodly delicious syr-up then mixing it with dark rum and Campari. Equally spicy but lighter, the Jamaican Spice Bowl hits you with a whack of vanilla and five-spice infused Apple-ton Estate VX.

Charoenkrung Soi 28, 091-870-9825. Open Wed-Sun 7pm-1am

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MOST CREATIVE DRINK LIST

Eat Me | WINNER!

3.5 4 4.5 3.5 3

“Thai cocktails” used to mean kitsch, sugary stuff fixed with cheap local booze and a chili sticking out the top. Not at Eat Me, where mixologist Bun-tanes “Pop” Direkrittikul’s creations are on a whole other level. He uses actual green chili paste, toasted rice, roasted chili and shallots for flavors so powerful they can be almost too real. Our favorite, the Laab Moo (a spicy, herbal Isaan dish made with minced pork), comes topped with a crispy strip of Serrano ham, its rim flecked with a crunchy mix of cilantro, rice and mint flakes. Saep!

1/6 Phiphat Soi 2, Convent Rd., 02-238- 0931. Open daily 3pm-1am

Locker Room

3.5 2.5 4 3 2

Have you ever wanted to taste “the savory flavors of foie gras” in your drink? We hadn’t until stumping up about B400 for this dev-ilishly secretive cocktail joint’s “Nuts Over Michelin,” which mixes goose liver with co-gnac, almond, lemon, sesame and egg white. If that doesn’t land somewhere a place in Most Creative Drinks category, we don’t know what does.

JIA Thonglor, 225/15 Thonglor Soi 10, 092-895- 3689. Open daily 8pm-2am

Vesper

3.5 3.5 4 3 3.5

Originally crafted by Milk Pailin (now at Zuma) and later improved by current barkeep Supawit “Palm” Muttarattana, Vesper’s “Art Book” is one of the most widely-recognized cocktail menus in town. Highlighted by six-week barrel-aged classics, the lengthy menu’s remaining pages pay homage to some of the world’s immortal artwork—pairing boozy inspirations with each piece.

10/15 Convent Rd., 02-235-2777. Open Daily 5pm-1am

Backstage Bar

3 4 3.5 3.5 3

The main hub of action for Ronnaporn “Neung” Kanivichaporn, the 2014 and 2017 winner of Diageo World Class who also appears here with his second project, Locker Room (see Best Drinks), is like a bartender’s playground. Last time we dropped by, he was whipping up spicy, fruity concoctions spiked with chipotle, snakefruit, cacao and agave nectar. 

L/F, Playhaus Thonglor, 205/22-23 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 02-712-5747, 061-519-5891. Open Mon-Sun 7pm-2am

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BEST BAR FOOD

Vesper | WINNER!

3.5 3.5 4 3 3.5

Chef-partner Luca Appino and Sardinian-born head chef Francesco Deiana dish out simple, hearty Mediterranean flavors that go toe-to-toe with some of the city’s best restaurants. Produce-driven plates like fileja calabrese, roasted suckling pig and pork sausage ragu really drive home that this is so much more than a cocktail joint.

10/15 Convent Rd., 02-235-2777. Open daily 5pm-1am

Teppen

4 4 3 4 3

As if the the log-cabin vibes and well-soused salarymen weren’t enough, the exemplary izakaya bites do a good job of convincing you that you’re actually in Japan. Prop up the long bar, where things get hot and heavy watching the chefs at work, and work your way through sashimi, kushiage (deep-fried everything, basically) and robatayaki (charcoal barbecue)—all made to be paired with an ice-cold Asahi, ginger highball or full bottle of sake.

14/2 Sukhumvit Soi 61, 02-714-1412. Open Mon-Fri, 6pm-midnight, Sat-Sun 5pm-11pm

Vogue Lounge

2.5 4.5 4 3.5 3

While it’s usually the happy hour (see below) that draws us here on an empty stomach, it’s the delectably delicate bar bites of chef Cyril Coccon that ensure we leave stuffed. Affordable Aussie short-rib wraps and fancy Japan-inspired sliders pack a comforting punch, while the charcuterie boards and grilled, premium proteins are perfect for sharing.

6/F, MahaNakhon Cube, 96 Narathiwat Ratchanakarin Rd., 02-001-0697. Open daily 5pm-2am

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Shakariki 432

4 3 3 4 N/A

Does Shakariki provide Bangkok’s most authentic izakaya experience? The crowds at its every venue would suggest so, with tables sagging under the weight of gloriously gooey okonomiyaki pancakes, smoky, deep-fried cutlets on sticks, and the best sashimi at this price point around.

Surawong Rd., 02-637-0927. Open Sun-Thu 5pm-3am, Fri-Sat 5pm-5am

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BEST HAPPY HOUR

Vogue Lounge | WINNER!

2.5 4.5 4 3.5 3

A look so swathed in brass and marble might trick you into thinking millionaires only need book their after-work aperitifs at MahaNakhon’s luxurious rooftop bar. Thanks to a happy hour that sees beautifully poured old fashioneds or negronis at two-for-the-price-of-one, that’s not the case. And the best bit: the offer lasts till 9pm.

6/F, MahaNakhon Cube, 96 Narathiwat Ratchanakarin Rd., 02- 001-0697. Open daily 5pm-2am

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Woobar

3 2.5 3 2.5 2.5

W Bangkok’s signature lobby bar buzzes with glitzy purple decor and chic elec-tronica. The free-flow sparkling wine—Pitars Cuvee Prestige NV—deal offers itself to gents on Wed and ladies on Thu—something that has not gone unnoticed by the Silom gay scene. Head there 7:30-9:30pm.

Lobby/F, W Bangkok, 106 Sathorn Rd., 02-344-4000. Open daily 9am-midnight

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Medinii

3 4.5 3 3.5 2

Technically an Italian restaurant, this sleek space 35 floors above Asoke lets you eat and drink to your heart’s content at just B999. That includes wine, beer, cocktails and soft drinks, as well as one main course, unlimited pizza and pasta, plus one dessert. Yours from 6-11pm every day. 

35/F, The Continent Hotel, 413 Sukhumvit Rd., 02-686- 7000. Open daily 6am-midnight

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Beer Belly

2.5 3 3 4 3

The frat house vibes—beer pong, air hockey, Jenga—are not to all tastes, but this is 72 Courtyard’s most consistently busy bar with good reason. Drop by Sunday for 120 minutes of free-flow pints at B999. That covers Vedett, Menabrea and Erdinger—not just Leo and Chang. But if Thai beer’s your thing, Mon-Sat 5-8pm gets you half-price Mahanakorn, Stone Head and Lamzing, plus all the big names.

G/F, 72 Courtyard, 72 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 02-392-7770. Open daily 5pm-2am

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BEST DESIGN

Bunker | WINNER!

3 4.5 4 3 3

A lot of respected food and drink figures played a hand in this place, but it’s designer Kelly Wheatley’s brutalist concrete lines that make the first impression. The imposing structure’s sharp angles and pinching alcoves wind and roll across three levels, softened by dashes of mustard and marine with polished stone and copper-toned mirrors playing a supporting role. Blending fancy and raw elements to-gether is no small feat, but Bunker is a knockout.

118/2 Sathorn Soi 12, 092-563-9991, 02- 234-7749. Open Mon-Sun 5:30pm-midnight

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FooJohn

3.5 4 3.5 3 3.5

For all Bangkok’s new-wave Chinese-themed bars, FooJohn manages to put you in mind of Hong Kong while avoiding the cliches of its contemporaries. Its downstairs Formica tabletops come straight from a stuck-in-time bingsut, while the middle floor’s throwback patterned wallpapers work in ways we don’t even know.

831 Charoenkrung Soi 31, 085-527-3511. Open Wed-Sun 6pm-midnight

Bamboo Bar

2 4.5 4.5 2 3.5

The only place in town that can make tiger print, bamboo furniture and mirrored ceilings work. Our hearts were in our mouths a few years back when they said they were giving it a refresh courtesy of P49 architects, but the resulting work is a spectacularly moody testament to tropical opulence.

1/F, Mandarin Oriental, 48 Charoenkrung Soi 40 (Oriental Avenue), 02-659-9000. Open Sun-Thu 5pm- 1am, Fri-Sat 5pm-2am

Tropic City

3 4 3.5 3 4

The floral paintings, the neon signs, the flamingo sculptures, the vibey king-and-queen-in-holiday-mode portrait—everything at Charoenkrung’s newest cocktail bar says “fun,” which isn’t a word often associated with places pouring drinks as serious as these ones. Order the banana-infused, rum-and-whiskey laced Jungle Letter 23 or miss out.

Charoenkrung Soi 28, 091-870-9825. Open Wed-Sun 7pm-1am

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BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE

Soulbar | WINNER!

4 3.5 3 3.5 4
From the soul band side project of Apartment Khunpa guitarist Pump Jotikasthira (who’s also a partner in the bar) to the languid, psych-charged sounds of the Lowdowns, the original Charoenkrung bar guarantees live music that hits the get-up-and-dance gene. Add in a crowd that likes to party and a fridge packed with affordable beers—as well as a location that’s jumping distance from our fave cocktail joints—and you’ve got a winning package.
 
945 Charoenkrung Rd., 093-220-0441, 095-593-9661. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-midnight

Jam

4 3.5 2.5 5 4.5
This Surasak shop-house strewn with posters and kitsch toys may look like your teen-dream bedroom, but it sure sees more ac-tion. The city’s dub, experimental electronic and reggae scenes would be in a much poorer state if not for Jam’s micro-stage. It’s not all anti-mainstream posturing, either; plenty of crowd-friendly indie acts have cut their teeth here, too.
 
41 Charoen Rat Soi 1, 089-889-8059. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-midnight

Studio Lam

4 4 3 3 5
This tiny Thonglor wedge of a bar is as hip as they come. On a good night you won’t be able to see what’s in front of you, but you’ll feel the good vibrations of the massive sound system pumping out live molam, experimental indie-rock or some limited-run psychedelic Turkish 7-inch DJ Maft Sai brought back from his travels.
 
3/1 Sukhumvit Soi 51, 02-261-6661. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-2am

Fatty’s Bar and Diner

4 3.5 3.5 4 3.5
At this Rama 9 dive bar, the full-fat burgers and American craft beers come with a high-decibel soundtrack of classic and college rock. Visit on Tuesday for open-mic night and it’s the turn of local musos to give their heartiest imitation. Though things have gone quiet on the gig front of late, few events loom so large on the local indie-rock calendar as Fatty’s Fest, an annual bender of music, barbecue and booze.

598/66 Asoke Din Daeng Rd., 081-438-7221, 02-245- 2965. Open Tue-Sun 11am-midnight

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BEST ROOFTOP BAR

Hi-So | WINNER!

3 4 3 2 2

This rooftop serves up one of Bangkok’s most stunning sunset scenes—looking straight over Lumphini Park and onto the gleaming skyscrapers of Phloen Chit. Maybe that’s why it’s one of the few spots that attracts a local crowd, one that likes to knock back Champagne and smoke cigars while reposed on the almost-too-comfy scarlet daybeds. Oh, and they give out enough complimentary cashews and olives to make you say, “let’s screw dinner.”

29/F, So Sofitel Hotel, 2 North Sathorn Rd., 02-624-0000. Open daily 5pm–1am

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Above Eleven

2.5 3.5 3 2.5 2

Leave the tequila sunsets to the hotels and head here for well-poured piscos overlooking a twinkling strip of downtown Sukhumvit—if you were smart enough to reserve the peren-nially booked-out balcony seats. As the night wears on, white dudes on dates make way for gaggles of hard-partying locals, before the whole crowd moves on to Havana Social.

33/F, Fraser Suites Sukhumvit, 38/8 Sukhumvit Soi 11, 02-038-5111. Open daily 6pm-2am

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Attitude

2.5 4 3 3 3

There is a reason to visit Thonburi. It stands 26 stories above the Chao Phraya, offers cocktails with a floral, flamboyant edge and serves Asian-influenced tapas plates at not-too-crazy prices. The vast space means it never feels super-crowded, which is just what we want when we’re taking a few well-poured sundowners.

26/F, Avani Riverside Hotel, 257 Charoennakorn Rd., 02- 431-9100. Open daily 5:30pm-1am

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Octave

2.5 3.5 3 2 1.5

A rooftop bar with the added bonus of being right by Thonglor, this place is our favorite diversion tactic to use on out-of-town friends when they start mumbling “sky-bar.” Cocktails don’t come quite at street-level prices, but you do get a stunning view of downtown Sukhumvit, coupled with an upbeat crowd of tourists.

45/F, Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit, Sukhumvit Soi 57, 02-797- 0000. Open daily 5pm-2am

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B.A.D. Awards is available as a free booklet inserted in BK Magazine issue number 715 (Nov 24) and a downloadable PDF version here

 

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One Dee

Your cheat-sheet to this year’s best new eating and drinking spots in the ever-buzzing Ari neighborhood.