For a while, getting together for drinks in Bangkok meant nights out at a trendy rooftop bar overlooking the city — with 360-degree views that sometimes proved more memorable than the cocktails. The past few years, however, have seen a booming craft cocktail scene, and now the locavore concept — celebrating Thai culture, flavours and ingredients — is proudly showcased at some of the city’s most popular bars. Here’s a list of some of our favorite Thai-inspired cocktails to sip on your next night in Bangkok.
Where to have it: At Vesper, a sleek bar along Convent Road in Silom, that’s currently at number 19 in the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list
What’s in it: For starters, 11 Tigers spices, an all-natural dried herbal bar traditionally used in Thailand in the preparation of herbal liquor. “It has properties that improve blood circulation and gives you energy,” says owner Choti Leenutaphong. “We infuse this with vodka until the dried spices are dissolved, and then mix in the ginger syrup, lychee juice, lime juice, and finally, egg white to give the drink a smooth, fluffy texture. We shake all the ingredients together with ice and serve in a coupe glass.” Its real tribute to the Thai capital can be read on the edible custom-made sheet garnish, emblazoned with the words ‘Bangkok, City of Life’. This old slogan was used by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. Leenutaphong adds, “Bangkok is a city full of life and energy, constantly on the move and never really sleeps. The 11 Tiger Spices is supposed to give you energy, so we think it’s a fitting ingredient to this cocktail.” Just the kind of pick-me-up we like.
Where to have it: Tep Bar, conceptualized by Asawin Rojmethatawee in 2015, specifically to highlight Thai spirits, beverages, ingredients and flavors
What’s in it: Thai moonshine — made from a local Thai white spirit infused with 20 kinds of local herbs — mixed with passion fruit, lemon and homemade syrup. “It’s refreshing, sweet and sour with the aromatic kick of Thai herbs,” says Rojmethatawee. Inspired by the spirited Thai water festival, it’s even served in the traditional hand-hammered aluminium water bowl.
3. Milk, Tea & Coco
Where to have it: At the brand-new Villa Frantzén Cocktail Bar, opened in June 2022, offering Nordic and Asian-inspired cocktails. It’s the first standalone bar venture by Swedish chef Björn Frantzén, whose namesake empire, the Frantzen Group, includes three-Michelin-starred restaurants in Stockholm and Singapore.
What’s in it: Chalong Bay rum, aged Akvavit, arrack, coconut milk, Ceylon tea and lavender. “It’s inspired by tea and the Thai tea culture and Thai’s love for all things coconut,” says bar manager Gabriel Valdés. “The base of this drink constitutes rum from a highly respected rum producer from Phuket [Chalong Bay]. We then used the clarification technique to bring the smooth and silky finish to the end-texture of the drink in order to let the coconut milk stand out. The result? An unexpected, completely transparent drink, served in a coupette glass over spheric ice.”
4. Issan Coco
Where to have it: Asia Today, Teens of Thailand’s sister bar. From the name to the menu, the bar is owner Niks Anuman-Rajadhon’s way of celebrating present-day Asia — its enduring traditions, evolving tastes, local ingredients — and of supporting farmers and local producers by changing the perception that local ingredients are somehow of lesser value.
What’s in it: “It’s a classic local drink made with Issan Rum (distilled from fresh sugarcane juice in Nongkhai province) mixed with fresh coconut water,” says Anuman-Rajadhon. Simple, straightforward, and so good.
5. After Kaprao Highball by Wasteland
Where to have it: You’ll have to make this one at home, following the recipe by Wasteland, the zero-waste cocktail concept by Dharath Hoonchamlong (Tot), Kitibordee Chortubtim (Gov) and Suchada Sopajaree (Fahbeer)
While working as environmental manager at Bo.lan, Tot noticed cuts and portions of ingredients that the kitchen had yet to find a way to manage. He then began collecting data and samples, and with his new partners founded Wasteland as a pop-up/ event, which operated at Bo.lan’s community space during the pandemic. When the restaurant closed, they moved out as well. While Wasteland doesn’t currently have a physical space — they still do appear at events, workshops and pop-ups. They also offer craft sodas available at Homeland Grocer, The Food Trust Bangkok, The Food Trust Chiang Mai Kad Kokoa, Kohi Roastery & Coffee Bar, Maadae Slow Fish Kitchen, Cuisine de Garden Chiang Mai, and Blackitch Artisan Kitchen.