Shh... there's a drinking revolution going on behind closed doors. Here's how and where to get a taste.
The story: The city's newest clandestine drinking den comes from the team behind Nana nightlife haunts Above Eleven and Charcoal. Going for a 1940s-50s Havana high-life vibe, this is Cuban pastiche done right: shuttered windows, spare lighting and crumbling walls spruced up with colorful cement tiles, murals and live Afro-Cuban music.
The crowd: Familiar faces from Bangkok's DJ and dining crowds (and the crowds that follow them).
The poison: Rum, and lots of it, featuring the occasional creative flourish courtesy of Joseph Boroski. The Cuba Libre (Bacardi black, angostura bitters, cola and kaffir lime, B260) is served with chunky Coca-Cola ice cubes, while Between the Sheets (Bacardi Black, Hennessy VS, Grand Marnier, lime, pomegranate grenadine, B300) comes in two mismatched cocktail glasses, one sweet and one sour, and requires you to rather daintily sip at both for the full effect.
The how: The entrance is hidden down a small soi opposite Fraser Suites on Sukhumvit Soi 11, past a couple dubious massage parlors. Find the telephone booth labeled "Telefono," then call the place (on your modern-day smartphone) for the night’s unique entry code.
The story: This speakeasy-style bar comes courtesy of the local cocktail specialists behind many of the best drink menus in town (the now-defunct Sugar Ray, Barka). It succeeds where many others fail to conjure the feeling of a secret drinking society. The long, narrow space replicates a classic railway carriage dining car with a ‘20s New York vibe, with just 10 leather-upholstered seats lining the well-polished bar.
The crowd: The city's trust-fund hipsters, migrating from Ekkamai to Asoke.
The poison: The barman specializes in personalized drinks. If you want to play it safe, you can stick to the classics, here jazzed up with uncommon ingredients, as well as infusions and smoke. The Rough Negroni (B390), made from homemade gin, carries a strong hint of pine wood and citrus even though there's no orange peel for garnish, while the Comte De Monte Cristo (B420) has an interesting nutty aroma, based on port wine infused with Ethiopian coffee and toasted pecan, mixed with Amaro Montenegro and Diplomatico Exclusiva 12 Year Old rum. The owners say eventually they will offer a menu of up to 100 signature drinks.
The how: "Find the green marble wall down a little alley off Asoke Road." That's what we were told on our first visit. Easier said than done. Our advice? Keep an eye out for the abandoned-looking building before Case Coffee; you won't really notice the green marble in the dark, but you're basically there.
The story: Mixologist Joseph Boroski is a bit of an institution. He’s trained and done the cocktail lists for a lot of the five-star hotels in town, for all of Ashley Sutton’s bars, for Quince, etc. But last year he set up his own shop at the end of a dark, damp alley. The place’s design is by Sutton, and it’s absolutely stunning.
The crowd: The same as Q&A, with added expats.
The poison: Each cocktail here is handcrafted for you only and there is no menu. Is it worth the effort? Well, at B620 it better be. But how does this sound: a Sazerac made with XO cognac and Hudson rye, with a dash of Hella citrus bitters from Brooklyn. You can’t even find half those ingredients in this town!
The how: We’re not even allowed to tell you exactly where. (Thonglor, odd numbers side, single digit soi, girls in red at the corner.) But you can chat him up on Facebook and he might send you a map.
The story: First came Rocket, whose menu is little more than coffee, eggs Benedict and rye bread sandwiches. Then next door's proper restaurant Lady Brett. But Sathorn's mini-hipster enclave actually has a third feather to its cap, this wonderfully moody lounge that's all chocolate tones, leather upholstery, circular booths and warm lighting.
The crowd: A well-dressed—and surreptitious—clientele worthy of the Mad Men-esque setting .
The poison: U.N.C.L.E packs a stellar cocktail list, and is known for having some of the best—and priciest—drinks in town. Mixologist Sebastian De La Cruz's cocktails go for a decadent tiki theme with lots of artisanal rums and tequilas. They also serve some tasty steak and mussels
The how: It's located above Lady Brett, and accessible through a very speakeasy-worthy series of stairs and backdoors.
The story: At the same time as the Whisgars cigar lounge on Silom Road welcomed the second outlet of beer specialists Craft in early 2015, it also unveiled this speakeasy-style cocktail bar.
The crowd: Whisgars' usual motley crew of foreign professionals and local hotshots.
The poison: Here, you can expect tailor-made cocktails: pick your base spirit (mostly supplied by William Grant & Son, like Hendrick's gin, Sailor Jerry rum and Monkey Shoulder whiskey) and let the barman work his magic.
The how: Head to Whisgars in Upper Silom—that's the easy part. There, access is hidden behind the wooden wall of the main room with a little walkway leading you to a sizable Victorian-inspired bar.