Fresh, simple and devoid of gimmicks, head chef Arnold Marcella’s small plates showcase New American cuisine at its most inventive. Then there’s Bunker’s brutalist concrete building itself, whose many angles and alcoves spread across three levels all roll into one another.
The drinks: While dinner here comes at “special-occasion” prices, the cocktails have proven a real reason for returning frequently. New concoctions make it onto the menu every month or so, with bartenders looking to make the most out of the same ingredients currently in use in the kitchen. Fresh flavors abound in the likes of the Yuzu Whiskey Sour (B320), made using Suntory Kakubin whiskey, yuzu puree, passion fruit juice and lemon juice, and the Siam Sipper (B280), which sees Plantation Silver Rum enhanced with lime, aloe vera juice and pandan syrup.
118/2 Sathorn Soi 12, 092-563-9991, 02-234-7749. Open Sun-Wed 5:30pm-1am; Thu-Sat 5:30pm-2am
The team from Thonglor speakeasy Rabbit Hole presents creative locavore flavors at Bangkok’s most exciting new kitchen. Here, Texas-hailing chef Riley Sanders heads a kitchen that paints with the flavors of Thailand as inspired by world cuisine.
The drinks: Head bartender Naphat “Yod” Natchachon keeps standards on a par with Rabbit Hole while complementing the local flavors of the restaurant. Sooth Your Soul (B450) utilizes a rare Chiang Mai leaf called bai nium which our grandparents used to burn and eat with Hong Thong Rum back in the day. Here they infuse the leaves with coffee beans in cognac, mix that with sweet vermouth then serve it with star anise smoke. Tropical botanicals also star in the Canvas Martini (B450): gin, aloe vera vinegar, dry vermouth, ylang-ylang flowers, black olive and coriander flower.
113/9-10 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 099-614-1158. Open Mon-Fri 6pm-midnight; Sat-Sun 6-12:30pm
Now a regular in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, Eat Me has managed to remain relevant for nearly 20 years as a buzzing spot for cocktails and dinner. Chalk it up to its mid-century concrete decor or the sexy staff, but chef Tim Butler’s reliably delicious brand of Pacific Rim and Mediterranean cuisine deserves credit, too.
The drinks: The latest concoctions from mixologist Buntanes “Pop” Direkrittikul take Thai flavors to another level. Much like a chef, he uses only fresh ingredients resulting in flavors that are almost too real: the Gaeng Kaew Wan (green curry, B320) cocktail comes fully loaded with garlic. Personally, we drink the Laab Moo (B320), which interprets the minty Northern salad with a crispy strip of Serrano ham and a rim flecked with a crunchy mix of cilantro, rice and mint flakes. Saep!
1/6 Soi Phiphat 2, Convent Rd., 02-238-0931. Open daily 3pm-1am
This grand old villa reborn as an Italian grill restaurant boasts some of Bangkok’s most prized beef. The on-site dry-aging cabinet brims with premium European cuts, while simple Italian-influenced dishes cooked on wood-fired ovens complete the food menu.
The drinks: Husband-and-wife restaurateurs Choti Leenutaphong and Debby Tang, of Vesper, have enlisted their Soi Convent cocktail institution’s team to create a drinks list that’s far more traditional than Vesper’s. A 10-strong list of “vintage” cocktails draws on old recipe books and classical inspiration, resulting in a Louis Old Fashioned (Bulleit Rye, Licor 43 and orange bitters, B420) devised circa 1906. They’ve also unveiled a new martini line, mixed and served table-side on a trolley—try the Stuzzichino (B490), which features vodka, vermouth, orange bitters, sausage oil and a blue cheese-stuffed olive.
1098/2 Rama 4 Rd., 02-286-8833. Open Mon-Sat 6pm-1am; Sun 6pm-midnight. MRT Khlong Toei
Sitting in a contemporized wooden house with a luxurious edge (those richly azure, button-backed leather sofas), this restaurant specializes in one of the lesser-known regions of Thai cuisine: the eastern provinces, especially Trat.
The drinks: Chennarong “Jan” Bhumichitr, Thailand’s senior brand ambassador at Diageo Moet Hennessy, looks to ensure that cocktails live up to the regional integrity of the food. The purple-tinged Salacca Fizz (B360) features the pungent, sour taste of salak (aka snake fruit), along with butterfly pea-infused gin, while The Garden (B340) is a mix of Pimm’s No. 1 Cup, lychee liqueur, lime juice, elderflower and rambutan syrup. Bursting with freshness, the results are a full-on and aromatic experience.
90 Sukhumvit Soi 33, 02-088-0968. Open Sun-Mon noon-11pm; Wed noon-11pm; Thu noon-11pm; Fri-Sat noon-1am
The glam rooftop bar and restaurant at MahaNakhon doesn’t just have chic, ‘20s-meets-modern decor going for it. The kitchen does a super-tasty line of fancy burgers (get the teriyaki burger with wasabi mayo).
The drinks: The cocktails here taste as good as they look, mostly taking a floral and refreshing route. One drink with considerable kick is the Aged Aroma Negroni (B360), a blend of gin, coffee bean-infused Campari, Vermouth Rosso, chocolate bitters and vanilla oil infused with Italian herbs, aged in an oak barrel for two months. Despite the glitzy setting, drinking here is actually pretty affordable. Every day from 5-9pm, Fashion Hour gets you buy-one-get-one-free on all standard drinks. There are also 500ml jugs to share between 2-3 people—we recommend the Vogue Lounge Tonic (B850), a mix of chamomile tea-infused gin, apple juice, vermouth, lemon juice and cardamom syrup.
6/F, Mahanakhon Cube, Narathiwat Ratchanakarin Rd., 02-001-0697. Open daily 5pm-2am
Upscale tapas bar or restaurant that happens to serve great cocktails? However you view Vesper, you can’t leave without splashing out on some serious drinks as well as Mediterranean cuisine.
The drinks: Launched in February by former bartender Milk Palin, the cocktail menu here is called The Art Book and takes the form of a ring-bound tome styled after Phaidon’s cult publication of the same name. This ambitious undertaking charts an ever-growing list of boozy creations inspired by famous works of art. New head bartender Supawit “Palm” Muttarattana, Thailand champion of the World Class Cocktail Competition in 2012 and co-owner of Backstage Bar in Thonglor, has made his own mark on the menu, with must-tries like A Lawn Being Sprinkled (B420), a strong yet refreshing mix of rosemary, thyme and black pepper vodka, rose water, orange blossom, vermouth and celery bitters.
10/15 Convent Rd., 02-235-2777. Open Mon-Fri noon-2:30pm; Mon-Sat 6pm-1am; Sun 6pm-midnight