Like most big cities, Bangkok is a great drinking town. Want a cheap beer to beat the heat, there’s plenty of Chang. But there are also plenty of other kicked-up cocktails to be discovered.
Before heading to Thailand, I had read a lot about how Bangkok has a thriving cocktail scene. On our first night, we ended up going to two of the most innovative bars – Tep Bar and Teens of Thailand. Tep is a neighborhood bar full of locals, with a few of us foreigners sneaking in. There we got to experience Mekhong, aka Thai whiskey, which, as you can see below, has some very inventive names. If you like stronger liquors as we do, the Mekhong makes some great cocktails.
Our server encouraged us to check out Teens of Thailand, which I had heard about, but hadn’t realized was nearby. We loved the first couple of drinks at TOT, but as we neared the end, our sweet, gentle giant server approached us and asked if he could make us something special.
I had no idea that Gin and Tonics were such a force in Thailand. I spent most of my early drinking years believing Gin and Tonics were these horrific, overly junipery things that I hated – until I experienced DC’s Jaleo and Estadio and learned what a real G&T was like.
Back at TOT, our server brought me a Thai Tea Gin & Tonic, which was one of the most delightful drinks I’ve ever had. It had the citrus notes of a thai tea, but was herbal and just a tad sweet. I loved this drink so much. Namsaah Bottling Trust, which served great food, also had some herbaceous and fragrant Gin and Tonics as well, including a lavender infused drink which was incredibly refreshing during the hot Bangkok nights.
We spent a couple of nights at the enjoyable Hyde and Seek which has one of the largest cocktail menus I’ve ever seen. Close to our hotel, it was the perfect spot for a nightcap. Vesper also has a delightful cocktail scene and we loved Smalls‘ atmosphere (and they had Titos!).
One of the most fun cocktails I had was the Tom Yum Cocktail at Sri Panwa in Phuket. Our Phuket hotel was one of the most beautiful places on earth, and while it had some great food, I found many of the cocktails a bit too sweet. That was until I discovered the Tom Yum cocktail, which was a play off of tom yum soup. When I ordered this, I didn’t realize it’d take 10 minutes to make, but it was worth every second. The cocktail packed a spicy punch, as they used real chilies, with hints of lime and a little bit of sweetness. It was the perfect poolside vacation drink.
So, have no fear, discerning drinkers! A lot of vacation spots have a bad reputation of fruity, boozeless concoctions that leave you with a headache and not much else. Thailand, fortunately, is not one of those places. Whatever you are looking for to whet your whistle, you’ll be able to find it in the Land of Smiles.