So many cocktails, so little time. Head to these bars for mixologists whipping up masterpieces in a glass.
BK's annual B.A.D. Awards celebrate all that's good in Bangkok nightlife. With the 2019 awards fast approaching, we take a look at some of Bangkok's very best cocktail bars in an attempt to narrow down the "Best Cocktail Bar" category to just three bars. At a time when bartenders are outgunning each other with advanced new ingredients, techniques and twists, the local cocktail scene has never been more vibrant.
This November, we're also giving our readers the chance to try out some of the awesome bars we write about with our new bar-hopping event, BAD Night Out—book now to secure your spot.
How many times have you been to a hotel rooftop bar and found the great views and service are let down by average drinks? That’s not the case here. The top floor specializes in gin, the floor below dark spirits.
38/F, Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, 199 Sukhumvit Soi 22, 02-059-5999. Open daily 5pm-1am.
Exclusively for Citi credit card members: :
A joint venture between the teams behind Ku Bar and the rapidly expanding Sugar Ray empire (Q&A, Thaipioka, Sugar Ray, Sugarray Apartment), this two-story, speakeasy keeps it classy with stiff cocktails, live jazz and cigars. The bar team focuses on the classics, often giving them a subtle twist with local ingredients.
29 Sukhumvit Soi 31, 02-163-4778. Open daily 6pm-2am.
Fancy a bit of baccaurea kunstleri in that gin sour? How about a hint of champedak? If you don’t know what we’re talking about, then you need to go plant yourself at the crumbling, neon-lit counter of Chinatown’s local ingredients-championing watering hole.
35 Soi Maitri Chit, 097-134-4704. Open Tue-Sun 7pm-1am.
One of Bangkok’s cocktail pioneers still remains an industry favorite. Here, you will find bartenders from around town coming to wind down with after-shift drinks—if it’s good enough for those guys, it’s good enough for you.
L/F, Playhaus Thonglor, 205/22-23 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 061-519-5891. Open daily 7pm-2am
Take Bangkok’s oldest jazz bar (open since 1953), lavish it with a respectful new interior of lacquered bamboo and animal print, install a head barkeep (Jamie Rhind) who earned his stripes at London’s Artesian Bar, and you have a damn fine place to knock back a Manhattan and watch the live performances.
1/F, Mandarin Oriental, 48 Charoenkrung Soi 40 (Oriental Avenue), 02-659-9000. Open Sun-Thu 5pm-1am; Fri-Sat 5pm-2am.
Yen Akat's leafy, chilled out cocktail bar remains one of Bangkok's hottest openings. The drinks are tasty and easy to down, which goes hand-in-hand with the easy-going vibe that the bar’s got going on. Expect fruity concoctions with nods to local ingredients like chili and mango.
15 Yen Akat Rd., 083-437-3515. Open Tue-Sun 5pm-2am.
This new experimental bar comes from craft cocktail guru Fabio Brugnolaro (formerly of Sul and Vogue Lounge). Pull up an elegant gold bar stool at the sweeping curved bar to sample well-balanced fruity concoctions, or request a customized cocktail. Many of Fabio's ingredients are homemade—spirits, vermouths, syrups, garnishes, liquors—while a soon-to-launch menu promises a zero-waste bent.
49/9 Sukhumvit Rd., 083-072-2770. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-1am.
Tim Butler’s ever-evolving, transcontinental cuisine has made Eat Me a fixture on regional restaurant lists, and in mixologist Buntanes “Pop” Direkrittikul he has a worthy ally. Pop’s gastronomy-inspired creations don’t shy away from bold Thai flavors (khao mun kai in cocktail form, anyone?), ensuring this is far more than a run-of-the-mill watering hole.
1/6 Soi Phiphat 2, Convent Rd., 02-238-0931. Open daily 3pm-1am.
Bartenders labor over serious, booze-heavy cocktails amid a photogenic mix of wood, marble, brass and neon at this sexy little cocktail lounge. Funk, old-school hip-hop and r'n’b provide the soundtrack as you knock back glass after glass of potent stuff like the Jet Lagged, which sees bourbon, coffee liqueur, sweet vermouth, black walnut bitters and Grand Marnier poured into one very powerful wake-me-up.
G/F, 72 Courtyard, 72 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 02-392-7740, Open daily 6pm-2am.
Yes, this cocktail bar is located on Sukhumvit Soi 11, but don’t worry, you won’t be drinking Long Island Ice Teas here. Coming from the team behind The Locker Room, they keep up the speakeasy gimmick and definitely bring a touch of class to Nana.
Exclusively for Citi credit card members: :
This shady Saphan Khwai speakeasy conjures the Shanghai mafia era with its fake Chinese pawnshop entrance and old-school mahjong table lit up by neon red Chinese signs. Its Chinese ingredient-laden concoctions come in three styles: sweet, sour, and complex—we're all about the latter.
488 Phahonyothin Rd., 062-490-5126. Open daily 7pm-2am.
Iron Balls Distillery
Ashley Sutton (of Iron Fairies and Sing Sing Theater) is behind this stunning steampunk gin distillery in Ekkamai. Until lately, it was about about concoctions made using Iron Balls gin, but this year, they threw their own vodka into the mix, too.
G/F, Parklane, Sukhumvit Soi 63, 02-714-2269. Open daily 6pm-midnight.
Second branch: Iron Balls Parlour, Sukhumvit Soi 45, 063-225-1331. Open daily 8pm-2am.
Phloen Chit’s elegant new cocktail joint takes influence from former First Lady, ‘60s style icon and rumored gin-tonic lover Jackie Kennedy. It also comes from nightlife impresario Sanya Souvanna Phouma (Cactus, Sing Sing), who’s this time partnered with property developer Sansiri to take over the top floor of its shiny new Siri House, a kind of hi-so members club where you don’t need membership.
1/F, Siri House, 14/2 Soi Somkid, 094-868-2639. Open daily 5pm-midnight.
Run by Joseph Boroski, creator of cocktail lists for sophisticated bars and many five-star hotels, this is a hidden gem among Bangkok's countless bars—and by hidden, we really mean it. Turn left down a dark, damp alley near the start of Soi Thonglor. Once inside, you’ll be served cocktails tailored to your requirements (there’s no menu) using ingredients you can’t find anywhere else in town.
Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 02-712-6025. Open Sun-Thu 7pm-2am, Fri-Sat 7pm-3am
By our reckoning, still the absolute cheapest place in Bangkok to find superlative gin, poured as it should be (stiffly) and with a decent tonic to boot. Owner Bard Passapon serves 20 of his own infusions on the menu, which accounts for much of the bar’s unbelievable Friday night popularity. That, and the burgers.
454 Suanphlu Soi 1, 085-100-3608. Open Tue-Sun 3pm-midnight.
Exclusively for Citi credit card members: :
Here, Thonglor gets on board with Bangkok’s gin boom—and they’re serious about their selection, stocking over 50 gins from around the world. This comfortable, friendly spot is neatly tucked away on the residential Thonglor Soi 1, yet still within reach of Sukhumvit Soi 55’s shenanigans, making it the ultimate choice for pre-gaming.
44/3 Thonglor Soi 1, 095-341-9056. Open Tue-Sun 5pm-1am.
If you think Ari cocktails are all simple and easy-drinking, think again, as this opening’s (very) spirit-forward concoctions are proof that quality, crafted cocktails are no longer reserved for Sukhumvit only. Keeping up with the speakeasy trend, the ‘20s-style bar is hidden away in a secret room, only accessible after obtaining a keycard.
G/F, Josh Hotel, 19/2 Ari Soi 4 (Nua), 02-102-4999. Open daily 6pm-2am.
Other bartenders whose opinions we have a lot of time for tell us that nowhere else in Bangkok man-ages to pack such intense flavors into their house infusions than Ku Bar. The results speak for themselves, poured from a meticulously crafted marble and blond-wood bar that playfully contrasts the otherwise stark, concrete space.
3/F, 469 Phra Sumen Rd., 091-731-9752, Open Wed-Sun 7pm-midnight.
Exiting the lift on the 30th floor of the Rosewood hotel, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled into something between a Tokyo record bar and a mid-century recording studio. The entrance hall is lined with 6,000 records that visitors can browse, play and even buy. Tear yourself away, because inside, a stunning speakeasy awaits, replete with sultry Art Deco light fixtures, retro brown leather sofas, music-themed drinks and a spiral staircase leading up to a clandestine cigar lounge.
30/F, Rosewood, 1041/38 Phloen Chit Rd., 02-080-0088. Open daily 7pm-midnight.
The team that brought us Rabbit Hole and Canvas teamed up with Kitibordee “Gov” Chortubtim of Backstage and Krit “Joey” Parkobdee of Tropic City to bring us one of the most advanced cocktail menus we’ve ever come across. Cocktails range from WWII-inspired concoctions, to zero waste, to single ingredient explorations.
Piman 49, Sukhumvit Soi 49, 093-654-2500. Open daily 7pm-1:30am.
Hidden away behind a wall of grungy looking lockers, this speakeasy showcases some of Asia's top mixology talents. Ronnaporn “Neung” Kanivichaporn, two time winner of Diageo's national World Class cocktail competition, joins forces with Hidetsugo Ueno from Bar High Five in Tokyo, Colin Chia from Nutmeg & Clover and Nick Wu (third in the World Class Cocktail Competition 2016). Find the secret entrance, pull up a counter seat by the bar staff, and try one of their Bloodless Marias, a clear martini-like drink that uses mezcal and tomato sous-vide vermouth. Powerful stuff.
406 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor). 061-524-2689. Open daily 6pm-2am.
Bangkok’s beau monde are making a beeline up the rolling brass staircase of the Waldorf Astoria’s F&B suite and into this intimate cocktail den thanks not just to those stunning interiors by AvroKo, but also because head barman Michele Montauti has found his natural habitat: refined, spirit-forward, and with a strong nod to time-worn traditions. The original Waldorf Manhattan is superb, hough you’d be just as happy with a surprisingly affordable bottle of Cava. For something even more luxurious, seek out The Champagne Bar hidden one floor above.
56/F, Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, 151 Ratchadamri Rd., 02-846-8888. Open daily 5pm-midnight.
We love Penthouse for one simple reason: they don’t rip you off. In fact, we don’t reckon there’s a cheaper beer at a five-star rooftop in Bangkok. It also helps when the view’s this stunning, plus that name—the Park Hyatt—it just sounds good.
34-36/F, Park Hyatt, 88 Wireless Rd., 02-011-7480. Open daily 5.30pm-midnight.
235/13 Sukhumvit Soi 21, 02-664-1445. Mon-Sat 7pm-2am
Step inside this three-story shop-house and you’ll find a charming, dimly-lit, narrow bar with a huge rose gold booze rack behind a marble bar. The classic drinks with technical twists and infusions attract Thonglor’s pretty faces, as well as a lot of bar owners and veteran mixologists.
125 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 081-822-3392, 098-969-1335, Open daily 7pm-2am.
This late-night, fire-show spot on Sathorn Soi 10 served up refined and crafted cocktails like the tasty Banana Fashion, which combines banana-infused Diplomatico rum, sugar, and bitters, garnished with rum sous-vide-banana.
50 Sathorn Soi 10, 02-235-4823 ,02-235-4822, Open daily 6pm-2am.
Take a cushioned wicker armchair at the flowing wood bar and prepare to be mesmerized as head bartender Kei Sawada masterfully carves blocks of ice, blowtorches herbs and sprinkles curious ingredients from test tubes into exquisite Japanese hand-carved glasses. The result? Mind-blowingly creative cocktails that are nothing short of artwork. With alcohol importer Bacchus Global at the helm, the dizzying array of labels traverses infused shochu and sake, Japanese whiskeys galore and numerous homemade concoctions.
36/5 Sukhumvit Soi 39, 083-019-9062. Open Mon-Sat 6pm-1am.
This hidden bar near Phrom Phong comes from the team behind The Key Room No. 72, a speakeasy hidden inside Ari’s Josh Hotel. This bar is likewise located within another venue—the southern Thai restaurant, Marigold. Expect spirit-forward signatures and well-balanced, fruitier concoctions, served in a space embellished with Art Deco interiors and lots of jade green.
51 Sukhumvit Soi 26, 02-005-0226. Open daily 5pm-midnight.
This speakeasy from the masterminds also behind Q&A and Thaipioka has left its homey digs in Ekkamai for Sukhumvit Soi 24. Located inside the sprawling Octo Seafood Bar, this new incarnation of the bar (which first opened in 2014) swaps the original’s mix-and-match charm for something sleeker and more minimalist. On top of the classics, you can expect signature cocktails with Asian twists
88/2,88/9 Sukhumvit Rd. 24, 094-417-9898. Open Tue-Sun 7pm-2am.
Soi Nana was buzzing well before Teens of Thailand opened its doors, but no venue on the street has made as much impact on Bangkok’s bar scene. Built from the remains of a near-crumbling shop-house, the venue’s haunting Indian-style door and sticker-starred exterior concrete walls are a loud-andproud counter to speakeasy cocktail culture. Co-owner and mixologist Niks Anuman-Rajadhon stockpiles an apocalypse-ready supply of gin, while venue’s small, dimly-lit room gets rammed every weekend.
76 Soi Nana, Charoen Krung Rd., 096-846-0506. Sun-Thu 7pm-midnight; Fri-Sat7pm-1am.
By the same team as Q&A and Sugar Ray, this place has a similar long layout, with added Japanese coziness. The living room-like space houses a light wooden bar lined with cute chairs, where quality drinks are served up in ceramic glassware.
Salil Hotel, 44/7 Thonglor Soi 1, 087-713-6943. Open daily 7pm-2am.
672/65 Charoenkrung Soi 28, 083-838-2750. Open Tue-Sun 7pm-1am.
The Old Town’s Uncle Tim whips up signature cocktails using herb-infused vodka and Chinese medicinal ingredients—a fitting tribute to the shop-house’s former life as an apothecary. Still owned by the Tim Rueng Vej family, the property is now home to the Tim Mansion hotel upstairs and the third-generation’s latest addition: this oriental-themed bar.
337 Maha Chai Rd., 094-236-1545. Open Wed-Sun 7pm-midnight.
When it comes to cocktail bars, small is good, and Vesper’s intimate new look just goes to prove it. So long as you get there in time for a bar stool, you’re in for a carefully crafted treat of cocktail perfection and a soundtrack that’s so much more fun than the standard big-band jazz.
10/15 Convent Rd., 02-235-2777. Open Mon-Sat 5:30pm-1am; Sun 5:30pm-midnight.