The buzz: At the height of its popularity, Salon Du Japonisant was the cocktail bar on everyone’s lips. Helmed by the same bartender, Kei Sawada’s Frog Bar acts as a peaceful lily pad untouched by the rippling streets of Sukhumvit. Disguised with Japanese literary and pop culture references familiar to Thai customers, the drinks take from Japanese beats and blend it with local ingredients. 
The vibe: In Japanese culture, the frog is a symbol of good fortune. It can also refer to homecoming as frog, kaeru, is a homonym for the verb “to go back” or “to go home”. Kei likens his bar to the experience of Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Following the frog symbol at the front door, the warm dimly lit interiors engulf visitors in a view from underneath an emerald pond—with chrome lily pads refracting lights up above. A mix of chill, jazz, and Japanese hip-hop pumps through the speakers. 
The drinks: The first welcome shot is a Nikolaschka which appeared in the 2024 anime of the popular “Bartender” manga. With cognac at the bottom, the rim is closed with a single disk of lemon and generously sprinkled with sugar. Pop the top first to down the drink more easily and get a refreshing brown sugar cola flavor. Leaping from one art form to another, the main portion of the drink takes a couple of pages from Haruki Murakami’s award winning “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.” The dual narrative in the novel splits the cocktail menu in half. The Hard-Boil section focuses on classics with a twist and the fantastical Wonderland allows the bartenders to flex their creative mixology skills. 
Photo: Midnight Cruise / BK Magazine
Take the Midnight Cruise (B480) from the Hard-Boiled segment; the drink is inspired by cruising for women at night. Ditching the sunny disposition of the gimlet, the zesty gin based classic is given the Japanese treatment with squeezes of yuzu. And the pitch black color comes from bamboo charcoal. Overall, the drink teeters on the edge of sweet and sour with a waft of aromatic infused elder flower.
Photo: Frog Negroni / BK Magazine 
Another Hard-Boiled pick is The Complication / Frog Negroni (B480). The ritual starts off by smoking the glass with cinnamon. For fans of caffeine in their drink, you’ll get a kick out of the Vietnamese drip coffee base which has been mixed with homemade campari and a secret ingredient that provides a slight waxy coating on the tongue. Adding to the complexity, their chocolate boiled in earl gray releases a slight acridness to the palate, and the dark chocolate side is reminiscent of the famous melty Japanese Royce.
From the Wonderland side, we selected the savory umami Blue Cheese Salty Dog (B480). You won’t have to worry about the blue cheese overpowering your palate as the shiso leaves on the rim provide an herby contrast.
The food: Small in portion and mild in taste, the food is here to enhance the drinking experience. Opt for the baby tomato salad with basil and onion puree (B180) or the well-done quail eggs with one half marinated in shoyu for 24 hours and the other half smoked. If you’re craving something sweet, they’ve also got refreshing ice cream made from the fruits shaken in the cocktails.
Why you should come back: Apart from the laid back energy and the easy-to-down booze, the second floor is a private bar area and cigar lounge boasting a collection of 200 brandy bottles for the hard core drinkers.
237, Sukhumvit, 084-093-9993, Open Tues-Sun 6-11:30pm.