Our primary mode of consumption in Bangkok was eating food, but occasionally we would get a cocktail at one of Bangkok’s many bars. While we primarily ate on the streets, Bangkok is also a cosmopolitan world city — you can eat Thai food at fancy places, spend the evening at a wine bar, or have a nightcap at one of the many cocktail bars. Many cocktail bars do have a dress code or at least prefer you look polished, so try to avoid wearing flip-flops or sneakers, and, at some bars, shorts (for men) may not be permitted. A quick internet search about a specific bar should provide more information.
While the dollar is very strong in Thailand, allowing us to consume delicious street food for around $1, cocktail prices matched those of New York City, most often because of the high import taxes. Meghan was in training for a half marathon while we were there, so luckily that usually limited us to one drink each, keeping our expenses down.
All of the cocktail bars we went to accept credit cards. Make sure to double check the bill, as service charge is sometimes included.
Scroll down to see all of the bars on a map.
Depending on how you see it, Q&A could be a train car, a shipping vessel, or neither. Regardless, you have to find it first. Located on an alley off busy Soi Sukhumvit, the discreetly marked entrance might pose a bit of a visual challenge, but just ask any of the street food vendors at the edge of the alley for directions if you’re not sure.
Q&A was quiet for a Saturday, but we were also there at 6pm, which isn’t exactly party time for most folks in Bangkok. (Good for us!) I had a well-made Negroni and Meghan had a pink sparkling drink that wasn’t quite her jam. The staff is lovely, drinks are well-made and they give you free potato chips.
Located down an alley in Chinatown, Tep Bar exudes a sophisticated tiki bar vibe — not necessarily a bad thing, as you will discover. The cocktail list is very inventive, consisting of several cocktails made with a local herb-infused liqueur called Ya Dong (or Yadong) and others heavily skewed toward rum-based drinks. I had a Ya Dong-based drink called Pichai Songkram (450 baht or just under $13) and Meghan had a rum drink, Like A Virgin (350 baht or about $10), made with homemade lemongrass syrup and ginger in a bamboo tiki glass. We both enjoyed our drinks, while munching on charcoal grilled turmeric chicken and spicy mixed nuts while trying to enjoy the traditional music we didn’t understand.
Teens of Thailand
“Doesn’t matter how old you are, when you enter our bar, you are a teen again.” Something may have gotten lost in translation, but that’s how the name was explained to us by one of the bartenders. No matter, because Teens of Thailand is a gin-leaning serious cocktail bar that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There is a rotating list of cocktails, but there is almost always a Negroni, which is what I had (320 baht or just over $9). Meghan had a chrysanthemum infused Gin and Tonic (340 baht or just under $10). There are always freshly roasted chestnuts to munch on, “the finest in Chinatown”.
The Iron Fairies
From the outside you may not notice the dark windows at all and walk right past; or you just may stop for a second because of its distinctive discreteness (like we did).
A jazz bar that comes alive on weekend nights, The Iron Fairies is an intriguing space: dark, with a lot of wood and iron, it feels like a big tree house. The walls are lined with comfy and cozy chairs and there are vials of fairy dust scattered throughout. Of note are also the bathrooms: gargoyles and candles on the floor; cloth hand towels and the curiosity known as Toilet Paper.
Meghan had a Burning Bush (280 baht or about $8): Cointreau, lime, honey, chipotle salt and rosemary, which they lit on fire upon delivering the drink to the table. While I had — wait for it — a Negroni (also 280 baht)! The peanuts on the table were a nice pre-dinner snack.
J. Boroski Mixology
We decided to check this place out after noting that the cocktails at The Iron Fairies were created by a mysterious sounding “J. Boroski”. Located down an alley in Thonglor, a primly dressed doorman greets you and shows you in. The dark, long bar along one side of the narrow room paraded high back chairs. At the back of the bar and along the wall were low comfy plush chairs and tables. The classic rock playing in the background made for an odd incongruity. The dimly lit bathroom seemed to be playing recordings of old news in English.
There are no menus here; you simply tell the bartender what you like or feel like. My words — “Negroni, bourbon, not sweet” — yielded an incredible drink made with Rebel Yell bourbon, a mix of sweet and dry vermouth and Aphrodite Bitters (470 baht or almost $13.50). Meghan’s “Old Fashioned, bourbon, not too sweet” metamorphosed into a drink made with Maker’s Mark, Cointreau, Aperol and Bitter Man bitters (510 baht or about $14.60). Amongst the cocktail places we ventured to, this was the priciest, but the cocktails were also some of the most well-crafted.
See all of these cocktail bars, as well as food and coffee, on our Bangkok map