Ratchatewi welcomes an arty shop-house bar.
The buzz: You could easily walk past Figure 8’s unassuming exterior, if it weren’t for an outside speaker playing ambient electro tunes and a soft red glow beckoning you inside. Located around the corner from Ratchathewi BTS, this new cocktail bar-slash-gallery's daring gothic decor and inventive cocktails are a marker of the neighborhood's increasing edginess.
The decor: With its large suspended cross, waxy candles and mason jars filled with homemade ya dong (Thai herbal whiskey), the shop-house's neon-illuminated interior conjures up a feeling that's at once eerie and risque (one of the partners also owns an erotica shop in Thonglor). A red leather booth takes up most of the intimate wedge of space, alongside a scattering of bamboo stools and tables, each of which come with heavy black curtains that can be drawn for more privacy. Figure 8 also champions aspiring artists and plans to rotate thought-provoking exhibitions every three months, with the first featuring Japanese shibari rope bondage-inspired pieces.
The drinks: The brainchild of former Sugar Ray mixologist, Prince Armornkunathum, Figure 8’s signature cocktail list (all B330) is exciting, inventive and extremely tasty. Each drink is named after an influential artist, for example the Yayoi, which mixes umeshu (Japanese plum wine) and dry vermouth with a dash of natural yogurt for extra creaminess and tang. The dangerously easy to drink Rusty Nut blends sweet Frangelico with vodka, Angostura bitters, lime and egg white, and is finished off with a smoking cinnamon stick. Our favorite was the gin, Campari and grapefruit-based Imagine (Yoko)—with what looks like a miniature garden delicately balanced on top, the drink packs a powerfully herby aroma. Classic cocktails are a more pocket-friendly options, costing between B200 and B260, while Thai craft beers are B200.
The food: Figure 8 doesn’t have a kitchen, but there's a barbecue parked out front that's available to use. Plus, plans are in the pipeline to pair up with Fatty’s Bar and Diner, Rama 9's longtime favorite for late-night American drinking grub.
The music: The soundtrack sits somewhere between jazz, soul and electro. While the place is tiny, that won't stop it hosting live acoustic performances and DJ sets.
The crowd: Artists and art-inclined young professionals searching for somewhere a bit different.
Why we’d go back: With ever-changing exhibitions and live music, each visit to Figure 8 promises something new and exciting—not to mention exquisite cocktails. Rowan Usher