Lockdown is over. The booze ban is over(ish). So where should you go out for a drink? Here's a primere to Bangkok's nightlife scene right now.
Image courtesy of 008 Bar
Grab your Lee-Enfield and gas mask—we’re going to war. As you push open the unmarked door of this hotel bar, you’ll be immersed by the sound of the trenches. Next, journey through time to the Roaring Twenties with live jazz, leather armchairs, and nuanced cocktails that will make your mouth sing (although your wallet might groan).
11/F, Akyra Hotel, Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 02-392-8959
Image courtesy of Asia Today.
Neon signage, walls hung with evocative photography, and a giant hammerhead shark looming overhead set the scene at this quirky Chinatown shophouse, where revelers regularly spill out onto the street. Take it all in while owner Niks Anuman-Rajadhon regales you with hair-raising tales of his foraging missions to gather wild honey for the unique cocktails—and perhaps stories about his tumultuous past two years speaking out against Thailand’s alcohol restrictions.
35 Soi Maitri Chit, 097-134-4704
A joint venture between Ku Bar and the Sugar Ray empire, this two-story venue keeps it classy with stiff cocktails, live jazz, and cigars. Sip on classics with subtle, local twists—like the coffee-infused gin fizz—as you jive to live jazz on the ground floor, or head upstairs to puff on a cigar in the vinyl listening room.
29 Sukhumvit Soi 31, 02-163-4778
Image courtesy of Junker and Bar.
This compact bar has long been known for its unusual combination of hearty burgers and awesome G&Ts. After a year-plus of forced closure, it’s back in business, but a little smaller (one room closed) and with a new food menu. Suan Phlu, rejoice! Your neighborhood bar is back.
454 Suan Phlu Soi 1, 085-100-3608
Image courtesy of Mutual Bar.
Phrom Phong’s thriving speakeasy stayed busy with unex- pected collaboration last year—e.g., a fashion line (which was meant to be paired with unique cocktails, until things went haywire in Bangkok) and drinks made with the director of The Medium. Now that they’re back in business, seek out the tucked-away elevator next to Ramen Ichiban and head to the fifth floor, where you’ll find cocktails spanning from floral and easy drinking to more complex concoctions.
5/F, 3/7 Sukhumvit Soi 24, 02-550-6820
You’re sure to meet some friendly faces at this dimly lit Thonglor speakeasy, which has annually earned a spot on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list for its hip vibe and innovative cocktails. The fun-loving bar staff—who have won their own fair share of accolades—put sophisticated ingredients, like lavender syrup, chrysanthemum smoke, and white truffle oil fat-washed gin, to good use in libations that range from “fragrant” to “spirit-forward.”
125 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 098-532-3500
Inside this low-key cocktail haunt, from the same people who run a couple others on this list, a long, warmly lit bar invites you to sit and watch the bartenders work their magic on—you guessed it—Thai-inspired creations that taste and look the part. If drinking turmeric-, red bean-, or cow fat-laced cocktails doesn’t appeal, you can always play it safe with a highball.
Salil Hotel, 44/7 Thonglor Soi 1, 087-713-6943
We’ve lost count of how many times we’ve awoken to discover blurry photos of neon pink flamingos and tropical wallpaper on our phones—solid evidence that we, yet again, ended our night with a-few-too-many potent rum cocktails at Charoenkrung’s enduringly popular party enclave. The nights we do remember are always filled with solid music, good vibes, and new friends.
672/65 Charoenkrung Soi 28, 083-838-2750
Cracking the top 50 in the latest edition of the World’s 50 Best Bars—despite it being closed for so many months in 2020 and 2021... thanks, Thailand—Silom’s debonair cocktail lounge takes its cues from London’s most serious drinking dens. Long-term head barman Suppawit “Palm” Muttaratana recently left, but in his place comes yet another pedigreed bar manager: Federico Balzarini, formerly of the American Bar at the Savoy in London.
10/15 Convent Rd., 02-235-2777
This modern izakaya fuels nights out in Talad Noi with perfectly juicy charcoal grilled skew- ers, an effortlessly cool vibe, and ample sake, shochu, and umeshu. The one-page menu is nice and tight, featuring all of the above plus cocktails made with Japanese spirits.
672/49 Charoenkrung Soi 28, 02-103-6598
If you’re not au fait with Japan’s national drink, this bar’s friendly owner will be more than happy to walk you through his impressive sake collection. Before you dig in, order some happy hour highballs and comforting bites like korokke (croquettes), wagyu don, and gyoza. On weekends, the chilled-out bar regularly takes a lively turn with the addition of guest DJs.
124 Sukhumvit Soi 53, 02-115-2944
Tucked away in a dead-end soi, Jidori has all the authenticity and log-cabin charm of a great izakaya, not to mention awesome, charcoal-grilled chicken skewers—crisp exterior, very little charring, and a moist, perfectly cooked interior. They serve both draft beer and Japanese highballs, plus enough sake—by glass or bottle—to float a small ship.
10/12 Sukhumvit Soi 26, 02-661-3457
Taking the underground aboveground, Baan Bangkok deals in beers that may or may not be officially sanctioned by the Thai government. No matter. This spacious, second-story set in Dusit, of all places, pours 20 taps of arguably the best craft beer from Thai brewers you’ll find in the city.
253/1 Si Ayutthaya Rd., 081-734-2725
Image courtesy of Duke Beerington
Thonglor’s quasi-tucked away bottle shop- slash-bar boasts an enviable, ever-rotating selection of beer that keeps the regulars coming back to pay their respects to the Duke. Drink-in prices are a little more than they are for takeaway, but even then the beer is competitively priced, super fresh, and worth every satang.
G/F, SK Tower, 858 Sukhumvit Rd. (Thonglor), 092-887-7141
Putting Thai craft beer in the spotlight, this one-room bar and restaurant gathers local labels like Maalstroom, Mahanakhon, Water on Mars, and Samata to accompany its juicy burgers. You can also expect to find international names like Toppling Goliath (USA) and Feral Brewing (Aus). If Lad Phrao isn’t on the right side of the river for you, know that there’s a branch in Bang Wa, too.
765 Lat Phrao Rd., 092-556-2876
Gorge on cheese curds, beer, Bloody Mary’s, and burgers at Din Daeng’s mini ode to Wisconsin, where garage bands and walls plastered in Americana will give you those flyover state feels. Be sure to wear your finest flannel shirt and cargo shorts to blend in with the crowd.
598/66 Asoke Din Daeng Rd., 02-245-2965
Backed by a pair of Canadian beer geeks, both branches of this medical asylum-themed craft beer bar (Phloen Chit and Phrom Phong) feature a maddening selection of bottles, plus (plus) double figures of rotating taps featuring familiar names like Evil Twin and Stone.
2/F, Mahatun Plaza, 888/26 Phloen Chit Rd., 02-650-7589; 593/27 Sukhumvit Soi 33/1, 02-258-1461
Haze takes over the space once occupied by Let the Boy Die and thankfully carries on the tradition, if you will, set by its predecessor: live music, tasty bar snacks, and lots of beer. As far as the latter goes, expect big, bold-flavored craft beer from local brands like Puma and Baan Bangkok as well as the best of the best imported to Thailand.
425 Luang Rd., 083-603-6911
We’re not in Denmark anymore, not that you’d know it from the selections (or prices) at Ekkamai’s craft beer stronghold. Regular tap takeovers, weekly beer-and-burger specials, an apocalypse-ready stash of labels, and backyard keggers take the sting out and keep us coming back to this bar’s charming backstreet house.
26 Ekkamai Soi 10, 02-381-9891
RAZING THE BAR
Lockdown restriction may have eased, but some bars aren't back to business as usual just yet. These places have (temporarily, we hope) changed tack.
Image courtesy of Just a Drink Maybe
The relocated gin bar, now serving Sathorn’s office crowds in the shadows of the Mahanakhon building, isn’t pouring G&Ts at the moment. But it is serving breakfast-friendly dishes like avocado toast and spinach alongside heavier meals like fish and chips and wagyu ragu, as well as top-notch coffee.
37 Soi Suksa Witthaya (BTS Chong Nonsi), 095-341-9056
Masked behind an unmarked door, this intimate cocktail bar acts as a showroom for Japanese sake and spirit importer Bacchus Global. Since the beginning of this year, the bar has been converted to a cafe, swapping their boozy Japanese cocktails with latte art made from a variety of beans.
36/5 Sukhumvit Soi 3, 092-294-4457
Image courtesy of Q&A Bar
This Asoke bar revamped itself into a chic ice cream parlor during lockdown, whipping up scrumptious, homemade frozen desserts ranging from creamy vanilla ice cream to yuzu and booze-infused G&T sorbets. Bartender Attapon De Silva says they are doing it all from scratch, too, using locally sourced and house-made ingredients.
235/13 Sukhumvit Soi 21, 02-664-1445