The Old Town's secret bar is a minimalist marvel.
The buzz: Hidden far from sight in the Old Town, this cocktail bar helmed by Anupas "Kong" Premanuwat, who worked as a mixologist at New York's acclaimed Angel's Share speakeasy (a former stomping ground of Bronx's Hideyuki Saito and home to the current Bacardi Legacy global champion, Gn Chan) for five years, carries an alluring air of mystery.
The decor: This bar takes some finding. You'll have to traverse a narrow and dark alley running alongside Brown Sugar jazz bar on Phra Sumen Road. Spot the spirit house that guards a little brown door and you're at the entrance. Inside is a dusty concrete staircase that leads you past some pretty decrepit scenes before you reach the bar on the third floor. Behind the sliding wooden door is a minimalist mix of wood, raw concrete and marble counter that conjures an atmosphere that's cozy if slightly eerie, a little like an abandoned omakase restaurant. Candles give off light here and there, while behind the bar is a very limited lineup of bottles (that doesn’t resemble what’s on the menu at all). A light installation in one corner gives off a purple glow.
The drinks: With a menu that changes monthly, cocktails (starting at B350) spotlight local ingredients plucked from the fresh market. In keeping with the minimalist theme, names are functional rather than flowery: "Banana," "Gooseberry," "Roasted Corn." Kong shows off Japanese-like attention to detail and well-honed techniques in sophisticated concoctions like the "10 Herb" (B360), which mixes jub liang (a herbal tea containing herbs like arhat fruit, chrysanthemum, grass jelly and ginkgo) with gin, honey, egg white, lime and burnt sugar on top for a drink that's heady and potent, yet easy on the palate. They also offer natural wines (made without chemical intervention) from cult wineries, including “orange wine” (white wine made using the same method as red wine) like Matias Michelini "Via Revolucionaria" Torrantes (B370/glass, B1,750/bottle) from Argentina. Come after a meal as they only offer simple snacks like nuts (B40) and taro chips (B60).
The crowd: Like Q&A's hip young things, only even hipper. Think arty types in round-shaped glasses and ripped denim lining the bar and speaking in hushed tones.
The music: Minimal, ambient pieces that set the scene so well you may not even notice they're playing.
Why you should care: Mysterious yet fun, this "secret" bar strikes a nice balance without being too pretentious. Do note: This is only a two-person operation (Kong and his wine-loving partner, Elaine Sun) and there's a strict no-standing policy, so you might want to book ahead. If anything, it's a great place to try a couple of creative cocktails before launching into a long night of live music at Brown Sugar.