Craft beer bars vied with 1920s speakeasy cocktail lounges while a new generation of drinkers started taking over Chinatown shop-houses. Here’s what else we loved about Bangkok’s drinking scene this year.
Sing Sing

Best Design

Q&A and Sing Sing (tied)
The latest creation from prolific Bangkok-based Aussie designer Ashley Sutton (Maggie Choo’s and Iron Fairies) sees him work that colonial Shanghai fetish we know from Maggie Choo’s into something even more ambitious. It’s a clear winner with the crowd, since any given weekend you’ll find standing room only. But if you’d prefer something  more low-key, head over to Q&A, where a vintage railway dining car-inspired space offers just 10 leather-upholstered seats lined up along a deeply polished bar. 
Q&A: 235/13 Sukhumvit Soi 21, 02-664-1445. Open Mon-Sat 7pm-2am. 
Sing Sing Theatre: Sukhumvit Soi 45 (next to Quince), 097-285-6888. Open daily 8pm-2am. BTS Phrom Phong.

Best New Beer Bar

Craft beer kept trending this year, but this is the one spot where you can break away from the American bottled import mainstays and find something really exciting: local brews, by the bottle and on tap, that take prices back to basics. Architect-turned-brewer Pieak Pipattanaphon of Golden Coins brewery runs the spot, aided by Avi Yashaya of the Brewtopia beer meetups. Together they host regular live music and serve a short list of classic pub grub amid rustic-meets-indoor-garden decor.
542 Luang Rd., 096-695-6281. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-midnight   

Best New Event Space

Events like last month’s Dudesweet anniversary have been some of the rowdiest of the year, attracting the attention of local cops to this six-story shop-house on Silom Soi 8. But regardless, other happenings including Comet Records concerts, Brewtopia craft beer meetups and a concert from Cali alt-punk darlings The Garden have kept Bangkok’s party scene piling in virtually every weekend.  
Silom Soi 8, 087-061-1117. Open Thu-Sun 7pm-midnight. 

Best Survivor

The owners of Grass Thonglor called time on this community of bars, restaurants and shops in order to make way for a new condo. But the group of young owners behind Myst didn’t waste any time in moving their operation over to Thonglor Soi 10 and opening on an even bigger scale, with a spacious outdoor terrace and dancing room with daily live bands. They’ve got more in the works too, with a third branch planned for La Villa Ari early next year.
171 Thonglor Soi 10, 080-770-9800. Open Mon-Sun 5pm-2am.
Teens of Thailand

Best New Cocktails

First on the scene was Q&A, the slick, speakeasy-style follow-up to defunct Sugar Ray and run by the guys behind many of the best drinks lists in town. Personalized cocktails, rare bottles, uncommon ingredients, infusions, smoke—they offer it all, and we’d be happy to crown them top of the cocktail pile if it weren’t for the more laidback Teens of Thailand. Not only do you feel less compelled to dress up at this Chinatown bolt hole, but they also have a guy behind the bar who seriously knows his stuff—especially when it comes to gin. 
Q&A: 235/13 Sukhumvit Soi 21, 02-664-1445. Open Mon-sat 7pm-2am.
Teens of Thailand: 76 Soi Nana, 081443-3784. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-12:30am.

Best Comeback

If you’re over 30, you’ll know Tapas as a survivor of the late-'90s sangria and salsa days; the Silom Soi 4 bar where you could take your gay and straight friends and all have a good time. But this year, a whole other generation of Bangkok nightlife shakers stepped in to save it from the doldrums when Dudesweet took over the second floor and brought with them the likes of Knatz, Wrong Disco collective and Club Soma’s Go Grrrls party.
Silom Soi 4, 02-656-4249. Open daily 7pm-2am. BTS Sala Daeng. www.tapasbangkok

Best Bar Worth Traveling For

There are many reasons why you should go a bit out of town to try this new bar. First, it’s run by the people behind Chiang Mai’s Mixology, a bar which pours some serious drinks. Second, it’s themed after the Three Little Pigs fairytale, with whimsical rustic decor and signature cocktails like the Huff & Puff (which is no joke). Also expect perfectly poured personalized cocktails and creative inter-Thai food that actually works.
Phahon Yothin Soi 20, 098-965-4356. Open Mon-Sat 5pm-midnight.

Best Bar Food

What are undoubtedly the best ribs in town come from this low-and-slow Southern-style grill and cocktail hotspot on Surawong. Order up some super tender baby backs (B825/full and B575/ half-rack) or the equally amazing pulled-pork chili (B365) to go with that smoky bourbon-based cocktail. Oh, and save space for the nachos!
88 Surawong Rd., 083-029-7598. Open Tue-Sun 5pm-midnight.

Best New Rooftop Bar

We could take or leave most of the new rooftops from 2015, but this one really lived up to its name: “friend’s house.” Head to the rooftop of the long-standing-yet-always-happening Ekamai Mall to be entertained by Thai and international covers performed acoustically along with simple spicy dishes whipped up by one of the partner’s aunts. Try the khao maew (fried rice with chili paste and mackerel).
3/F, Ekamai Mall, Ekkamai Soi 10, 061-824-1747. Open daily 6pm-2am.

Best-Priced Cocktails

Even when B350 has become the new standard price for cocktails, this French restaurant managed to open in one of the hippest downtown areas (see Most Happening Area, page 6) with prices that make sense. We highly recommend knocking back a Baudelaire (spiced rum, ginger, honey syrup and lemon, B270) or classic negroni (gin, campari, martini rouge, B220) while perusing the compact list of 18-or-so wines from France and Italy (B1,150-B2,400). Not to mention their Wednesday Men’s Night cut-price offerings and Happy Ending Saturday when cocktails are half price after 10pm.
28/12, Sathorn Soi 10, 02-635-3533. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-midnight.

Best Makeover

Bangkok's oldest jazz institution (it dates back to 1953) went through its first restyling in 18 years at the end of last year. Courtesy of hotel industry faves P49 design studio, the new look maintains lovably Orientalist touches—tiger-print upholstery, wicker chairs—but the whole thing looks a lot moodier, with acres of laquered dark wood and a mirrored ceiling. What's more, mixologist Mirko Gardelliano, formerly of Water Library, revamped the cocktail menu to include bottle-aged doozies priced from B590-1,300. Live jazz daily starts from 9pm-midnight on Sun-Thu and 9pm-1am on Fri-Sat.
1/F, Mandarin Oriental, 48 Charoen Krung Soi 40 (Oriental Avenue), 02-659-9000. Open Sun-Thu 5pm-1am and Fri-Sat 5pm-2am.

Best Secret Bar Everyone Knows About

You really have to question the whole secret bar craze when these same places fill your Facebook feed with sponsored content. But we genuinely love Havana Social’s telephone entrance thingy. And this bar’s mid-century Cuban pastiche (all shuttered windows, faded murals and crumbling walls) sure makes for a vibrant change from all the jazz-age speakeasies we’ve been subjected to in past years. 
Sukhumvit Soi 11, 087-066-7711. Open daily 6pm-2am, BTS Nana.

Best Bar That's Even Better One Year On

We write about a lot of bars. Some just don’t last. But this Chinatown soul pioneer has gone from strength to strength, as evidenced by the congregation of scenesters smoking outside its doors virtually every night. It hasn’t hurt that they’ve just introduced a weekly roster of resident food trucks—Charoenkrung is cool, but there’s not much to grub apart from guay tiew. 
945 Charoenkrung Rd., 095-521-1541. Open Tue-Sat 6pm-midnight.  

Best New Bar Before 10 PM

One of a handful of recent openings looking to play upon Thai tradition without pandering to tourist cliches, the bar draws in the same cool crowd as its Soi Nana neighbors thanks to a blend of classic Central region music, Thai tapas dishes and a good line of home-infused ya dong (Thai herbal whiskey) that they blend into some surprisingly fresh-tasting cocktails.  
69-71 Soi Nana, 098-467-2944. Open Tue-Thu 5pm-midnight and Fri-Sun 5pm-1am.

Best New Bar After 10PM

Open right at the start of the year, this tightly-packed late-night haunt didn’t take long to become the new favorite of Thonglor-Ekkamai’s more subversive cliques. Almost one year down the line and its lost none of its shine—not that the crumbling walls and makeshift bar ever had much of that to begin with. 
Ekkamai Soi 10, 090-528-4646. Open Wed, Fri-Sat 9:30pm-2am

Best New Bar That Was Worth the Wait

W Hotel’s plan to renovate the colonial house next door has been whispered about for as long as the hotel’s been open. But finally they did it this year, opening its doors as The House on Sathorn, with a bar on one side and restaurant on the other. The Bar not only looks stunning thanks to its classic architecture and gentleman’s club furniture, but also dishes out some serious cocktails thanks to Italian mixologist Michele Montauti (formerly of J.Boroski). 
106 Sathorn Rd., 02-344-400. Open daily noon-midnight. 

Best New Bar That Should Open More Often

Light Room 
Dark Bar was such a success that its owner snagged another spot in the same Ekkamai complex and opened this place; Dark Bar’s futuristic electro-loving neighbor. Sounds like a great idea until you factor in that, whenever it opens its doors, the crowd from one disappears to the other. Perhaps that’s why we’re never sure whether it’ll be open or not.
Ekkamai Soi 10,  090-528-4646. Open for events only.

Most Out-There Bar

Surgical lighting, hospital beds doubling as tables and costumes hanging in the corner make this a very different craft beer experience. But trust us, this room above La Monita Mexican restaurant is not as haunting as it sounds. So don’t let that decor distract you from trying all of the 13 rotating taps.

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



Most Happening Area

Sathorn and Soi Nana (tied)
In one corner you’ve got the darling of Bangkok’s business world, where French tapas bars like Marcel (see Best-Priced Cocktails) and Le Cafe des Staigiares (142/21 Sathorn Soi 12) rub shoulders with high-priced cocktail spots Revolucion (50 Sathorn Soi 10) and UNCLE (2/F, Lady Brett, 149 Sathorn Soi 12, 02-635-0406). In the other, you have the burgeoning indie borough, Chinatown, where the city’s art crowd is adapting Soi Nana’s crumbling row-houses into spots like Tep Bar (see Best New Bar Before 10pm), the second-coming of 23 Bar & Gallery (92 Soi Nana, 080-264-4471), and hot new cocktail joint Teens of Thailand (see Best New Cocktail Bar).


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