Craft-cocktail lounges, booming beer bar culture and the return of Thonglor... It’s the best of Bangkok nightlife in 2016!
Best New Bar Before 10PM
The Italian mixologist who used to be at W Bangkok, Michele Montauti, brought nightlife to Pan Road when he opened Mikys—a space which, though a bit too plain for a crazy night, pitches things just right for pre-drinks with friends. Most of the drinks are priced at B340, for which you get the likes of “Julie”—a heady mix of Broker’s gin, Mancino Bianco vermouth, Earl Grey tea, jasmine syrup, lime and egg white. Best of all, it’s only a drunken stumble away from the nightlife civilization on Sathorn 10-12.
64 Pan Rd., 02-637-8368. Open Mon-Sat 5:30pm-1am
Best New Bar After 10PM
Think this place is a restaurant? Think again. This Mexican bar and tapas joint really comes to life later (and stays open through till two in the morning) thanks to some of the best hip-hop played anywhere in town. Drinks cut it alongside the best craft-cocktails despite often coming in at under B300, while the location right in front of Beam is perfect if you really want to get the party going.
1/F, 72 Courtyard, 72 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 061-550-6346. Open Sun 6pm-1am; Tue-Thu 6pm-1am; Fri-Sat 6pm-2am
Best New Nightclub
The Thonglor nightclub with its fancy laser lightings and expensive sound systems is easy to love (bar the drink prices) thanks to music that’s nowhere near as cheesy as Levels or Demo. Reasonably late opening hours, a credible lineup of international DJs and a fresh-faced crowd make it not just the best nightclub of 2016, but the best nightclub full stop.
1/F, 72 Courtyard, Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 02-392-7750. Open Wed-Sat 9pm-2am
Original and sophisticated yet playful and edgy, Kelly Wheatley’s design of Bunker makes us want to drink there as much as the cocktails from Diageo World Class 2015 finalist Natakorn Changrew (try the Bourbon Maple Sour, B360). We pity you if you need to do your makeup in the bathroom mirror made from strips of bronze, but boy, does it look good.
118/2 Sathorn Soi 12, 092-563-9991. Open Tue-Sun 6pm-1am
At Bottles of Beer, the drinks come from all corners of the globe and even include gluten-free options as well as ciders. The best part? If you buy six bottles you get wholesale prices, which most often sit at B150-200. Taproom also gets a nod thanks to the sheer volume of draughts—26 taps with something new to try with practically every visit.
Taproom, 51 Sukhumvit Soi 26, 087-460-2626. Open daily 5pm-midnight
Bottles of Beer, Sukhumvit Soi 34, 02-040-0473. Open daily 5pm-12:30am
Best New Cocktails
Behind a set of industrial, steel-rimmed glass doors and a rich velvet curtain sits this sultry den of high-class cocktail cliches from Japanese bartender Hidekuyi Saito. Our top picks include “Sei”—a deliciously rich blend of Bacardi Ocho, umeshu (plum wine), cacao, port wine, molasses and matcha, with a side treat of housemade rum yokan (Japanese dessert jelly)—and "The Butter," which sees the classic Sazerac mix of absinthe, cognac and American whiskey infused with melted butter.
Thonglor Soi 25, 02-036-6071. Open Tue-Sun 7pm-2am
Best Happy Hour
They call it “Fashion Hour,” we call it the best damn drinks deal in the city: two-for-one on all standard drinks, every night of the week, for three hours (5-9pm). Count B400 net for two drinks. And this being Vogue Lounge, bear in mind their idea of “standard” drinks are anything but.
6/F, Mahanakhon Cube, Narathiwat Ratchanakarin Rd., 02-001-0697. Open daily 5pm-2am
Best Bar Food
Fun and experimental, the recently-added bar snacks at Rabbit Hole are anything but ordinary. Chef Riley Sanders uses the bar as a practice space for his upcoming restaurant project, Canvas, rolling out small plates that are big on flavors and complexity. His uni toast, for example, bursts with flavors of shoyu, brown butter, roast garlic and slices of kaffir lime leaf.
125 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 081-822-3392, 098-969-1335. Open daily 7pm-2am
Best New Rooftop Bar
It sits 26 floors above the Chao Phraya River, so instead of just a sky-high view of tall buildings, you also get a clear sight of the river as it meanders through the city. To drink, French mixologist Alexandre Hersent rolls out refreshing signature cocktails like the Bora Bora Paradise Island (Absolut pear vodka, curacao, Joseph Cartron banana liqueur, apple juice and coconut ice cream, B380).
Avani Riverside, 257 Charoen Nakorn Rd., 02-431-9100. Open daily 5:30pm-1am
Focusing more on home-infusions than pricey spirits means that the follow up to Sathorn’s UNCLE manages to sell all its cocktails for less than B200 while guaranteeing a taste that still packs a punch. In fact, we can’t tell the difference between drinks here and some places charging double that.
72 Courtyard, 72 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 02-392-7637. Open daily 6pm-2am
UPDATE: We just discovered UNCLE at 72 Courtyard has shut down, which doesn't bode well for the future of cheap drinks.
Best New Jazz Bar
Every Friday and Saturday night, the three-piece jazz act—guitar/vocals, snare and double bass—set a sultry mood to go with the gypsy-meets-occult-meets-voodoo theme.
Sukhumvit Soi 29, 02-662-3060. Open daily 5:30pm-midnight
Best Tiny Bar
It’s not just the vintage train cabin decor that wins us over at this petite drinking den at the Commons. A drinks menu which travels the world looking for new inspiration every three months also makes repeat visits a joy. Through Dec you can get a taste of Mumbai, India, through heady, spice-laden concoctions like Sweet Bandra (safflower-infused Tanqueray gin, coconut water, house-made cardamom and rose syrup, raspberry liqueur, milk and creole bitters, B385).
1/F, The Commons, 355 Thonglor Soi 17, 02-101-4525. Open daily 5pm-1am
Scariest New Bar
At the second spot of the asylum-themed beer bar you’ll find hospital beds, doctor’s equipment, surgery room-like lighting and a strong smell of disinfectant. Apart from that, they serve a wide selection of craft beers from every corner of the world.
593/27 Sukhumvit Soi 33/1, 02-258-1461. Open daily 5pm-midnight
Best Bar for Selfies
It’s not just the spangly mix of wood, marble, brass and neon that make this bar an Instagram hit. Mixologist Liam Baer’s drinks also have somethig to do with it. For the ultimate in vanity, go with the Self(ie)-Adored (B440)—a sweet-and-sour mix of Bison Grass flavored vodka, elderflower liqueur, raspberry and egg white that comes served with your very own Polaroid.
G/F, 72 Courtyard, 72 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), 02-392-7740. Open daily 6pm-2am
Best New Cocktail Menu
Called the Art Book, it charts 14 boozy creations each inspired by a famous work of art. Our favorites see Rene Magritte’s “The Treachery of Images” interpreted as a smoky, potent blend of Moonshine unaged whiskey, Alipus San Baltazar mescal, Carpano Bianco and tonic bitters (B390), and Frida Kahlo’s “Self-Portrait with Necklace of Thorns” blended into a bitter-sweet mix of Tanqueray, Campari, kombu beer reduction and green Chartreuse (B390).
10/15 Convent Rd., 02-235-2777. Open Mon-Fri noon-2:30pm; Mon-Sat 6pm-1am; Sun 6am-midnight
Most Happening Area
It’s back! After letting Sathorn and Chinatown steal the limelight for two years on the trot, Thonglor hit back in 2016 with a vengence. The Commons and 72 Courtyard were just the start of a big year for Bangkok’s original high-end party strip.
Best Old Town Bar
This follow-up to burger sensation Escapade takes its Isaan-inspired dishes more seriously than any other bar in Bangkok thanks to the Isaan native chef-partner Chalermpon "Van" Rohitratana. Larb (B140 for pork/B180 for beef), deep-fried beef skirt (B240) and stewed pig cartilage with rotating vegetables (B160) are all must-tries, while mixologist Karn Liangsrisuk rolls out a rotating list of signature drinks together with his daily special written on a chalkboard pole or limited items announced on Instagram.
49 Phra Athit Rd., 081-406-3773. Open Tue-Sun 5pm-midnight
Best Whiskey Selection
The Owl Society Whiskey Saloon and Malt & Salt (tied)
The Owl Society doesn’t just have some 100 odd bottles for you to try. They’ve also brought in one of the best bartenders in town, Suchada “Fahbeer” Sopajaree, to whip up some amazing whiskey cocktails like The Great Grey (Johnnie Walker Black Label, Cynar, Port Cherry and patron XO Cafe, B360). Malt & Salt might not be as ambitious, but it makes a great place to start your whiskey education thanks to tasting flights like Royal Flight (Glenfiddich 21 year old, Singleton 18 year old, Glenlivet 21 year old, B1,490). They do have some rare bottles try try as well, like Johnnie Walker King George V. (B1,750/35ml glass).
The Owl Society Whiskey Saloon, Sukhumvit Soi 61, 02-046-3798. Open daily 5pm-2am
Malt & Salt, G/F, Ekamai Mall, Ekkamai Soi 10, 02-714-4249. Open daily 5pm-1am
Pailin "Milk" Sajjanit
Who are we to disagree with the judges from World Class 2016, who voted the head bartender at Vesper and Il Fumo the best in Southeast Asia back in June? Find her behind the bar at Vesper (Convent Rd., Silom) from Thu-Sat, and Il Fumo (Rama 4 Rd.) from Tue-Wed.
The Team at Bronx
This was tough. Strong words were thrown around the office between Camp Hide and Camp Miky, but in the end there could only be one winner... And it's basically everyone behind the bar at Bronx.
Thonglor Soi 25, 02-036-6071. Open Tue-Sun 7pm-2am
The 2016 Bangkok Drinking Power Chart
See Also: The Bangkok Booze Awards 2015