Secret bars – what do I think about them? To be honest, I am a bit torn. I don’t want to go to a bar because it is hidden, I want to go because the drinks are good. Of course its a fun concept, I don’t mind that, but sometimes it attracts a bit of an odd crowd. In Bangkok though, the best bars are hidden ones, and I dare to claim that I can now give a very competitive top-3 view.
I still remember my first real “secret” bar experience – Evans and Peel Detective Agency in London. That place is not just a bar hidden behind a curtain, it is a concept and you need to figure quite many things by yourself to make it in.There is even a cool bookshelf trap-door where you enter the restaurant (which is underground btw). The drinks were good but strong and the music a little bit too loud, however, it was one of the best evenings we had in London summer 2013.
Last week in Bangkok, we had an evening dedicated solely to hunting cocktails. On the agenda: J.Boroski, Backstage, Iron Fairies and other Thonglor favorites. Joseph Boroski is the rockstar of the Bangkok cocktail scene. With a long background in making cocktails for demanding New Yorkers, Joseph set up shop in Bangkok pioneering the countries mixology scene. His bar is locate din an alley on Sukhumvit Soi 9. It is said to be reservations only with a reputation for being difficult to get into. Our experience was quite the opposite though, we were basically thrown in when wondering down the alley just to have a peak on how hidden it actually is (we were on the move quite early though).
There is no menu at J. Boroski. All drinks are made based on the preferences of the drinker. We basically just said what kind of ingredients we felt like having that evening and the bartender mixed us exclusive surprises. My cocktail was a spicy Gin and berry mixer with a twist of vermouth and Ms a kind of pimped up Dark n Stormy. The cocktails were made in front of our eyes, with love and effort, using fresh ingredients and home made syrups. They cost around 500 TBH a piece, which is not horrible, but a top end price in Bangkok.
Following J. Boroski, we made our way to Backstage, which is a bar hidden behind a curtain at PlayHaus hotel. The bar specializes in superb cocktails and carefully selected wines and spirits. Bartenders showcase special seasonal cocktails and mocktails with a quirky twist. For example the cocktail of the evening was called Wrong-island ice tea (making fun of thai pronunciation of English) with spirit infused fruit tea, elderflower, lime and coke. There is a healthy amount of effort put on the presentation, however execution was quick – which is great.
The third secret bar we were supposed to visit was unfortunately closed the day we went snooping around for it. Q&A bar in Asoke is said to resemble a train cart from the inside, and I was curious to see it just for that. But what can you do, it is on the list for next time. Havana Social, which we visited last year also deserves a mention. The drinks are just average however the way to get in through an old telephone booth is pretty cool. Here is a piece I wrote about it last year.
All in all, I think Bangkok has a great scene for different kinds of bars specializing in cocktail mixology. I am sure there are plenty of more places than the ones I have mentioned, but it is a good list to start with.