It's been a couple of years since Swedish bartenders Sebastian de la Cruz and Philip Stefanescu met at a bar in Bangkok. Sharing a passion for tiki (tropical-inspired, juice-heavy) cocktails), the two created drinks menus for hotspots UNCLE and Lady Brett. Over the years, tiki cocktails became their signature. So, soon as they announced their new project last year, you knew it had to involve rum- and fruit juice-infused drinks.
Sat in the same compound that also houses Luke Satoru’s Black Pig tattoo studio on the currently-happening Soi Charoenkrung 28 (same soi as Little Market and Jua), Tropic City brings summer vibes to an old house-turnedbar. The walls are painted with parrots and pink flamingos, and set off with wooden furniture, a vintage sofa and fresh orchids. Come opening hours, a dimly-lit setting is played up with cheeky pineapple and flamingo neon signs, and toe-tapping hip hop beats. Just to make it clear: this is not a tiki bar. Rather, the concept embraces a mix of everything “tropical.”
“To be a tiki bar, you’ll need to have 99% of your drinks list based with rum, specific decor, which is basically a Polynesian theme, and music has to be exotic, like you’re walking into the rainforest. We didn’t tap into all that criteria since we have more than just rum drinks. Our decor is modern, and music is something we like, from hiphop and soul to tropical house,” explains De la Cruz. “But we love tiki bars and do think tiki is the best drink in the world so that’s why you’ll see a lot of tiki-inspired drinks and a lot of tiki techniques here.”
A lot of rum-based mixtures are, of course, what to expect. But the core thing about being tropical is to use fresh juice and syrup made from local fruits, and to focus on the what’s available for the season. The piña colada-style Cane Suggah (B350), for one, mixes sugar apple with coconut, Pisco Demonios, Chalong Bay Cinnamon, agave syrup, orange juice and lemon juice. The sugar apple contributes a lot of texture and aroma to the drink, and its sweet, gelatinous taste will sorely be missed when the duo replaces it with something else when the fruit goes out of season.
Other spirits are also onboard. Jungle Letter 23 has Monkey Shoulder whiskey mixed with Plantation Pineapple rum, Yellow Chartreuse, banana-infused dry sherry and a dash of housemade Tropic City bitters #1. If you’re not a big fan of juices, the menu also lists down spiritsforward fixes like the intense KL to BKK (B340). A twist on the classic Jungle Bird cocktail, the drink combines Jamaican rum with Campari, lime juice and reduced pineapple infused with spices.
De la Cruz hints that a food menu, powered by the 80/20 team, will be dropping by the end of the year. Like the drinks, the food will come from various places along the equator. So you can expect something like Malaysian oxtail curry and Peruvian fish cakes, but all with an 80/20 twist. Sign us up.