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The 7 best new reasons to drink in Bangkok

While police are busy cracking down on booze promotions (see below), these trends prove there's no lack of drinking to be done.   

By Choltanutkun Tun-atiruj | Sep 14, 2017

  • The 7 best new reasons to drink in Bangkok
Let the Girl Kill

Charoenkrung’s new wave of bars

Since the bloom of Chinatown (Teens of Thailand, Tep Bar, El Chiringuito)  and the opening of inventive Thai restaurant 80/20 in late 2015, Charoenkrung Road has also come alive at night. And things are only just heating up. New arrivals in the neighborhood include Tropic City (672/65 Soi Charoenkrung 28, 091-870-9825), which sees Sebastian De La Cruz and Philip Stefanescu (both formerly of Sapporot Group) serve up tropical cocktails from a gorgeous old townhouse touched up with tiki references. It’s joined on the same soi by sake-specializing izakaya slash art gallery Jua (set to open shortly) by the team behind Little Market diner. Nearby you’ve also got Let the Girl Kill (747 Charoenkrung Rd., 080-599-6177), dedicated entirely to local craft beers. 
 
Blaq Lyte

The totally lit nightclubs and bars

Forget all those glammed-up clubs playing moody techno; Bangkok’s party scene is undergoing a neon revolution. From the second floor of Badmotel, Blaq Lyte (2/F, Badmotel, 331/4-5 Sukhumvit Soi 55 [Thonglor], 098-253-9356) pumps out Drake and Kendrick Lamar beats to a crowd of millennials decked out head-to-toe in on-point sportswear. Over in Chatuchak, Trailer Trash Blue Eyes (3/15 Viphavadi Rangsit Soi 36, 086-996-0095) takes things down a notch to recall a teenage bedroom circa 1987. Bad-era Michael Jackson peers at you from one wall, while the soundtrack covers synth-heavy sounds from the ‘80s. Forget fancy cocktails—it’s all about bottles of Leo beer (B90), here. Things are even weirder at Lad Phrao’s Bad Taste Cafe (24/36 Lad Phrao Soi 21, 094-290-3299), a house of beers that doubles as a garish museum of internet memes and surreal video clips looping over and over. 
 
Bottles of Booze

Awesome booze at retail prices

The city’s newest bottleshops double as bars, meaning you can pull up a stool and enjoy some of the best drink prices in town. Leading the charge is Bottles of Booze (178 Narathiwat Ratchanakarin Rd., 02-043-9085), the Sathorn spin-off of Sukhumvit Soi 34’s Bottles of Beer, which stocks an array of craft beers and spirits from around the world. There’s also Orihara Shoten (Park Lane, Sukhumvit Soi 63 [Ekkamai], 02-382-0131), a collaboration between Japanese sake exporters Orihara and local booze distributors BB&B that stocks over 80 labels of sake to have in or take out. For wine, try Warp (Market Place, Thonglor Soi 4, 065-513-8399), which offers some delicious and affordable Champagne (B1,900 for a niche, growers’ label like Goutorbe-Bouillot Brut Rose), as well as indoor and outdoor seating—management even promise they’ll stay open as late as you and your crew want to carry on drinking. 
 

More gin than ever before

Back in 2015, Teens of Thailand (76 Soi Nana, Charoenkrung Rd., 081-443-3784) arrived on Soi Nana to give Bangkok the singularly-focused gin bar it didn’t even know it needed. In newcomer Just a Drink (Maybe) (44/3 Thonglor Soi 1, 02-023-7285), TOT might now have a rival for the biggest selection of the juniper-based white spirit. Here, you’ll find over 100 gin labels spanning big names and artisanal distilleries like Gin Mare, G’vine and Martin Miller’s dry gin, as well premium tonics, all served up in an easygoing, residential setting. G&T, anyone?
 
Locker Room

Next-level speakeasies

This year sees not one, not two, but three new entries to the city’s list of “secret” bars. Hidden away behind a wall of grungy looking lockers, Locker Room (JIA Thonglor 10, 225/15 Thonglor Soi 10, 092-895-3689) showcases some of Asia’s top mixology talents. Backstage Bar’s Neung Kanivichaporn joins forces with Hidetsugo Ueno from Bar High Five in Tokyo, Colin Chia from Nutmeg & Clover and Nick Wu from East End in Taipei to serve drinks that push classics to new extremes. Try one of their Bloodless Marias (B390), a clear martini-like drink that uses mezcal and tomato sous-vide vermouth. In the Old Town, a dusty concrete staircase leads the way to Ku Bar (3/F, 469 Phra Sumen Rd., 02-067-6731), a marble counter amid a decrepit room where Anupas “Kong” Premanuwat (who worked as a mixologist at New York’s acclaimed Angel’s Share) pours a monthly rotating cocktail menu that spotlights local ingredients plucked from the fresh market. The third new speakeasy, Thaipioka (Salil Hotel, Thonglor Soi 1), is so new the drinks menu isn’t finished yet—but it’s from the guys behind Sugar Ray and Q&A, so you can rest assured it’s good. 
 
Quaint 

Craft beer festivals galore

Despite the obvious ongoing legal challenges, Bangkok’s craft beer scene keeps going from strength to strength. The big guns have taken notice, too, with Singha helping to bankroll the Bangkok Beer Fest at Oasis Outdoor Arena earlier this month. Good news is there are more festivals and meetups in the pipeline, starting with Geek Out Craft Beer Festival on Sep 30 at Quaint (23 Sukhumvit Soi 61, 02-714-1998), where seven of the coolest importers—Smiling Mad Dog, Hopsession, Pacific B&B, Drinkable, Amber Spot, Captain Barrel and Beervana—will show off their new, rare and unusual beers. Fast-forward to November and there are two more events to look forward to: The Great Thai Beer Festival, organized by Changwon Express in collaboration with Flow House on Nov 17-19, and the second edition of Smiling Mad Dog’s Thailand Brew Festival on Nov 24-25.
 

Rum is having a moment

The city’s first Rum Cocktail Week took over 16 bars in mid-August, and it looks like we’ll be getting a lot more of the spirit in the coming months. Firstly, Tropic City will bring its Tiki-inspired concoctions to Charoenkrung. Then, Niks Anuman of Teens of Thailand will lift the lid on his latest project, Asia Today, which will also be rum-oriented. It’s set to open opposite ToT by the end of Sep. 

 


How the Alcohol Control Act affects your social media game

 
In July, police announced they would be monitoring social media to stamp out posts from business owners, celebrities and any member of the public that encourage alcohol use. This renewed enforcement is backed by a 2008 law that bans any act that “induces” others to drink. Violation of the notorious law carries a fine of B50,000 for first-time offenders.
 
But there is at least some good news. The following social media crimes are actually punishable by law:
  1. Bird’s-eye photos of your French oysters and Champagne glasses during brunch, captioned “Sunday is the new Friday.”
  2. You, behind the bar, pouring drinks while the bartender looks on in fear at all the Bulleit Rye you’re wasting.
  3. Photos of insanely expensive whiskey collection with the caption “decisions decisions.”
  4. #yolo buckets filled with 50 straws on Koh Phangan.

 

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