The "going local" trend in mixology is still strong
Local ingredients have been trending in Thailand's mixology scene for the past year now, with some bartenders traveling deep into Thailand’s rural areas in search of hard-to-find, homegrown cocktail elements. That’s given us a wealth of delicious, locally-driven drinks to enjoy in 2018—bravo!
Another key to this movement recently has been Mekhong’s “The Spirit of Thailand” cocktail competition. The contest pitted several of the country’s best bartenders against each other to craft a selection of drinks that draw inspiration and ingredients from Thai culinary traditions. The event featured 11 bartenders, and two winners got to showcase their skills during the Michelin Guide 2019 gala dinner. Taking home top prizes were the drinks “Rin Kam Lam Khong” from Aekachai Khongsri of Glen Bar, Pullman Bangkok King Power, and “Nuan”, from Watchara Warodom of Tep Bar. You can still find all 11 cocktails around Bangkok and beyond if you want to give them a shot. Here’s the details:
Tep Bar – “Nuan"
The price: B350
The Bartender: Watchara Warodom
The Drink: The word “Nuan” refers to the off-white color of a milled rice grain, a food source that's fed generations of Thais for over 5,000 years. This cocktail takes inspiration from the traditional ceremonies and the sacredness of the rice growing season in Thailand. The Nuan cocktail delivers the subtle flavors of rice milk made from Thailand's most celebrated hom mali 105 jasmine rice. The Mekhong add also follows this theme, as it is made from broken milled glutinous rice. Balancing out the rest of the drink is some Stevia for natural sweetness TEP kitchen's rice vinegar for some stabs of acidity. The drink comes served in a tall glass rimmed with rice crackers and puffed rice crackers.
67 Soi Nana near Chinatown, Bangkok Tel.098-467-2944
Glen Bar, Pullman Bangkok King Power – “Rin Kam Lum Khong”
The price: B249++
The Bartender: Aekachai Khongsri
The Drink: Drawing inspiration from the Mekhong river itself, head bartender Aekachai Khongsri uses herbal tea—a blend of galangal, lemongrass and pandan leaves—as a base to represent to earthy flavors representative of the region’s iconic river. From there, sweet tamarind juice from the province of Loei and syrup made with premium Ubon bananas are used to add sweetness.
8/2 Rangnam Road, Bangkok Tel.02-680-9999
Café Chilli Rustic Esan Bangkok - Mak-Dong
The price: B260
The bartender: Nontawat Kaewsod
The drink: All about Thai-style pickling here. Local fruits, such as madan, mayom, talingping and tamarind are pickled in Mekhong and pounded with young ginger. Mekhong and syrup are then added, shaken and poured into a martini glass rimmed with pickled plum, Mekhong and brown sugar. The drink is finished with a splash of soda water and pieces of pickled fruits.
65/1 Athenee Residence, Soi Ruam Ruedee, Wireless Road, Bangkok Tel.02-003-6291
Baan Suriyasai Content Bar Bangkok – Koon Nang
The price: B395
The bartender: Chutipong Rujirasirikul
The drink: Koon Nang is a sequel cocktail to Koon Suek, one of the two winning drinks from last year's Mekhong Thai Spirit Cocktails competition. The main ingredient here is Mahachanok mango, known and loved for its golden color and floral, sweet flesh. Combined with Mekhong and Western ingredients such as Mancino Secco, peach and vanilla squash, citrus syrup and grapefruit bitters, the drink tries to depict a time in history when Thailand was first experiencing European influences.
Baan Suriyasai Content Bar Bangkok, 174 Surawong Road, Bangkok Tel.095-949-1952, 02-237-8889
The Service 1921 Restaurant & Bar Chiang Mai – Kaow Niew Mamuang
The price: B299
The bartender: Nattapakorn Srijantab
The drink: Inspired by the sight of tourists lining up in front of mango sticky rice stalls throughout Chiang Mai, Kaow Niew Mamuang (which means mango sticky rice) aims to recreate the perfectly balanced flavors of the world-famous dessert with characteristically Thai ingredients. Namely, sticky rice, mango and coconut milk.
Anantara Chiang Mai Resort, 123-123/1 Charoen Prathet Road, Chiang Mai Tel.053-253-333
Kiew Kai Ka Bangkok – Pollen
The price: B180
The bartender: Kirati Klongkitjakarn
The drink: Pollen' takes its inspiration from two of Kirati’s least favorite fruits—ripe mangoes and papayas. By mixing them with Orange jessamine flowers and Mekhong, he's crafted an unexpectedly flavorsome combination tinged with floral aromas and a sour notes.
33 Nak Niwas Road, Ladprao, Bangkok Tel.02-102-6388
The House Lounge Chaing Mai – Labh
The price: B250
The bartender: Tinnakorn Sonsee
The drink: Labh is inspired by labh muanga, a popular Northern Thai dish typically eaten on important occasions. The drink opens with refreshing sour notes from rosella, followed by the fragrance of wild honey and the numbing spiciness of Makwaen seeds. It’s garnished with a Vietnamese coriander leaf, giving its herbaceous Mekhong base an extra boost.
199 Moonmuang Road, Chiang Mai Tel.053-287-681
Tantitium Phuket – Oong Lai
The price: B300
The bartender: Jansanin Inndecha
The drink: Some say that the “holy trinity” of flavors down in Phuket is this: sweet, sour, and damn spicy. With that in mind, Oong Lai Swing reflects on this tradition by using some of Phuket’s best ingredients, like mango juice and pineapple syrup, to embody the flavors of Phuket without melting your face off.
84 Dibuk Road, Phuket Tel.076-510-411
Saneh Jaan – The Ruby of Siam
The price: B320
The bartender: Thanawat Trairat
The drink: The Ruby of Siam pays homage to Thailand’s rich abundance of fruits and vegetables year-round. The drink features some of the country’s most iconic fruits, herbs and spices (think dragon fruit, roasted coconut, jasmine syrup and chilies). Here, the zesty nature of bitter orange combined with the lush red color of dragon fruit gives the drink its reddish-purple hue that resembles a ruby.
130 Wireless Road, Lumpini, Patumwan, Bangkok Tel.02-650-9880
Osha Thai Bangkok – Ma Lai
The price: B355
The bartender: Wichat Junsuk
The drink: Mai lai means “garland” in English, and obviously carries pretty profound significance in Thailand. With Mekhong as a base, 'MA LAI' cocktail offers a sweet and sour flavor profile with Thai floral notes, thanks to Champee- Champa blossom syrup, roasted coconut water, and Christ's thorn puree. Simply a fragrant and refreshing drink.
99 Wireless Road, Royal Residence Park Soi Ruam Ruedi, Bangkok Tel.02-256-6555
Dibuka Phuket – Roy Thai
The price: B320
The bartender: Kamonpon Chaimoon
The drink: Focusing on the textures and flavors of Thai herbs (galangal, lemongrass, kaffir leaves, coriander leaf and Vietnamese coriander) as well as spices (long pepper, clove, cinnamon, and Makwaen seed), the cocktail embodies Thai flavors about as much as any drink could. It also contains a laab-flavored syrup, a unique element inspired by the well-loved Northen and Northeastern spicy salad of the same name.
2/13 Dibuk road, Phuket Tel.076-606-666