The best savory cocktails in Bangkok
It may sound cliché, but it’s probably a good idea to begin your savory cocktail journey with a Bloody Mary, particularly the one created by Natakorn “Thumb” Chang-rew, the winner of Diageo World Class’ Southeast Asian Best Bloody Mary in 2015. Thumb’s version of this beloved drink combines bits and bobs he learned from cooking and food science—from MSG-making to incorporating the likes of Japanese dashi stock and bisque—to inject an umami taste to the mixture. Come by his restaurant Vapor during its monthly “Boat to Belly” event, and get the chance tofeast on fresh catch (fished by Thumb himself) paired with his signature drinks. His Bloody Mary may not always be on the menu each time—the fun part is, you get to try his other savory mixes.
Various prices. 39/1257, Nichada Thani, Pak Kret, Nonthaburi, 0 2832 0055. Open daily 10:00-23:45
The “classic with a savory twist” example, Backstage Cocktail Bar infuses tequila with some earthy vegetables – like beetroots – before adding vermouth and Campari for complexions, and garnished with torched dehydrated corn slice. The drink itself is already bitter, while beetroots give a vegetal-and-earthy touch to the classic sip.
B390. PlayHaus Thonglor, 205/22-23, Soi Thonglor 11, Sukhumvit 55, Thonglor, 06 1519 5891. Open daily 19:00-2:00
Similar to the Beetroot Negroni above, this tiny Chinese-themed bar has adopted the same approach by adding up a spicy twist to the classic mixture. The Bakkwa Old Fashioned is based on rosemary-infused Bourbon mixes with orange bitter, served garnished with bakkwa (Chinese salty-sweet dried meat) and drop of dried chili-infused sesame oil.
B340. 27/1 Soi Sukhumvit 33, Sukhumvit Road, 0 2085 2788. Open Tue-Sun 18:30-1:00
Rabbit Hole’s Suwincha “Chacha” Singsuwan gave us a sneak peek of their new drinks menu before it’s officially launched later this month. The new menu highlights eight savory cocktails that reflect the use of shrubs, vinegar and many other unexpected ingredients found in the kitchen. Try 9:45 PM, which mixes bourbon, pandan coconut shrub, vinegar kombu dashi and lime juice. Bonito flakes and green apple are used to garnish the drink. Another classic cocktail, the Penicillin, is also given a savory twist.
B400. 125, Sukhumvit 55, Thonglor, 09 8969 1335. Open 19:00-2:00
Following the footsteps of its sisters, Vesper and Il Fumo, which are famously known for a extensive list of spirit-forward, forgotten classic and barrel-aged drinks, as well as an impressive Martini menu, the newly-opened La Dotta rolls out the drink that features the best of both highlights. Dubbed La Dotta Martini, its group bar manager Supawit Muttarattana cold-infuses gin with strawberries and cherry tomatoes for (at least) five days before stirring together with ice and vermouth.
B340. 161/6 Soi Thonglor 9, 0 2392 8688. Open Tue-Sun 11:00-14:30, 17:30-23:00
There’s a good reason to check out this speakeasy in the Prasumen neighborhood. Underrated, talented barman Anupas “Kong” Premanuwat is a genius when it comes to churning out drinks with well-balanced flavors, and the refreshing Khuenchai Melon is no exception. Here, Kong mixes tequila with Chinese celery and honeydew melon juice with Tabasco sauce and absinthe spray. Ku Bar’s drinks menu changes on a monthly basis, however, so thank your lucky stars if you chance upon it when you visit.
B350. 469 Prasemen Road, 0 2607 6731. Open Thu-Sun 19:00-24:00
Eat Me has just launched an impressive set of eight new cocktails called Sip SomeThai, which borrows inspirations from eight dishes from different parts of Thailand. One drink, the Kaeng- Khiao-Wan (“green curry” in Thai) sees the clever use of green curry paste mixed with Diplomatico Blanco rum, lime, basil, shallots, kaffir lime leaf and milk. The creative concoction is served ice-cold in a beautiful ceramic soup bowl and garnished with Turkey berries. For a more exotic slurp, try the equally satisfying Kaeng-Tai- Pla, inspired by the southern-style spicy soup or Som Tum Pu Pla Ra, inspired by the popular papaya salad with fermented fish.
B320. 1/6 Soi Pipat 2, Convent Road, Silom. 0 2238 0931. Open daily 15:00-1:00
Q&A’s Attapon De-Silva, who has a background in cooking, truly believes that appropriating kitchen techniques into cocktails are the new basics of mixology. Q&A has a section dedicated to savory cocktails on its new menu. Called Umami, this selection infuses straight-from-the-kitchen ingredients into creative cocktails, including parmesan cheese and kombu seaweed. Gurih is a sweet and smoky drink that mixes mezcal with malic acid, seaweed and almond syrup. It sounds like a strange combination, but the result isan umami-packed drink that’s ultimately satisfying.
B450. 235/13 Sukhumvit 21, Asok, 0 2664 1445. Open Mon-Sat 19:00-2:00