Bangkok’s nightlife has a new front runner
On Surawong Road, behind an unassuming little shopfront, is a new bar poised to become one of Bangkok’s favourites, thanks to a luxe-meets-lowkey vibe, great music, and some of the best, strongest cocktails in town.
The 88 Surawong owner and co-founder Minway Chi said that he and co-founding bartender Eric Stephenson referenced “old American classics” when creating the menu at the cozy new bar, which is the former home of The Smokin’ Pug. The space is still decked out in brick, dark wood, and black iron.
The darkness of the decor adds to the cave-like feeling of the space, making it seem smaller and cozier that it may actually be. It’s a place perfect for striking up a deep conversation with a stranger.
The focus is on classic and inspired drinks that are strong over sweet — along with some that are highly unusual (We see you, Infante).
“It’s not lost classics as much as updated, timeless recipes” according to Minway. The drinks, served alongside Americana-referencing dishes like high welfare pork chops (rotating organic pork, apple slaw, and gin bbq THB320), buffalo chicken kara-age (buttermilk garlic marinade, Frank’s hot sauce, blue cheese THB280), and sawmill gravy & buttermilk biscuit (Sloane’s maple bacon sausage gravy THB240) complement a comfort soundtrack of New Order, The Cure, The Human League, and Joy Division. It’s “music you remember and can nod your head to, that’s comfortable without pretension,” said Minway.
For his part, American cocktail crafter Stephenson has produced a menu of pitch-perfect cocktails, divided by type. There are nontraditional sours, carbonated and effervescent cocktails, tropical drinks, and aromatized cocktails.
The hotel nacional special (THB360), from the topical list, features a caribbean white rum blend, apricot, pineapple, lime, and bitter vanilla. The scent of bitter vanilla wafts as the drink arrives, looking and tasting like what you hope to drink when you go on vacation before you are always, inevitably, handed a cloying, weak pina colada that reminds you of all the reasons you need to drink in the first place.
Among our favorites on the menu is the yacht club (THB400), from the aromatized menu, which looks deceivingly like a negroni. However, this drink is just as strong and just as good. Made of aged Venezuelan rum, 88 vermouth blend, apricot liqueur, and angostura bitters, this drink goes down easier than it should.
One of the most unusual drinks on the menu is the Infante (THB380), an unexpected mixture of blanco tequila, joven mezcal, orgeat (salted almond) syrup, citrus, and orange flower water. Though it’s sprinkled with nutmeg and may resemble a boozy cup of festive eggnog, it’s much more complex and not nearly as sweet, taking a nutty, even bitter, flavor turn.
The army and navy (THB340) features London dry gin, orgeat syrup, lime, cardamom and green chartreuse to create a refreshing little cocktail served in a charming, old fashioned champagne saucer reminiscent of the 1920’s. One of the less boozy choices on the menu, this is a good choice for your lightweight buddy.
Kentucky buck (THB380) looks like a chick drink but packs a bit of a more serious punch with its bourbon base. To even out the profile, the drink has strawberry, lemon, vanilla, kirsch liqueur, angostura bitters and ginger beer. As with all these drinks, they’ve been thankfully restrained with the sugar content.
On that note, we’ll be at the bar.
The 88 Surawong
88 Surawong Road
Open Mon.-Sat. From 5pm-1am
BTS Chong Nonsi