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As daylight fades, night owls in the Thai capital have many options for hitting the town
Bangkok’s reputation as a nocturnal playground is well deserved. Nevertheless, there’s more refinement and subtlety to the scene than lurid tales of neon-lit fleshpots would have you believe. From effortlessly stylish cocktail dens to some of Asia’s most credible clubs, the city is primed for those who like to party.
Star bar-designer Ashley Sutton’s touch is noticeable at his friend Joseph Boroski’s bar J Boroski Mixology. Boroski came up with the drinks lists at all of Sutton’s venues, while his friend returned the favour by designing the intimate space in the upscale Thong Lor neighbourhood. The combination of these two talents results in impeccably judged venues serving generous drink measures.
The bar Smalls harnesses a retro, gentlemanly aesthetic. Located in the increasingly hip enclave of Suan Phlu in Sathorn, the bar feels like a cross between a Parisian bistro and a smoky jazz club. Resident blues and jazz combos provide live music several nights a week.
Although there’s plenty to be seen at ground level, Bangkok really becomes a visual spectacle when viewed from above, drink in hand. Many of the city’s five-star hotels have rooftop bars. Among the best are Above Eleven, which crowns the Fraser Suites on Sukhumvit Soi 11. This informal venue’s musical selection of electronic dance beats creates a hip and youthful atmosphere. Other highlights include excellent Peruvian-Japanese cuisine and signature pisco sours.
Another prime elevated venue is Octave at the Marriott Sukhumvit, where Bangkok’s futuristic skyline can be observed in 360° glory.
The bar scene in Bangkok is in a state of constant flux, with hot new venues opening with the regularity of a ticking clock. Some of the most exciting fresh venues in town can be found in the Old City, where the combination of atmospheric shop houses and hip young owners has created an effervescent scene. Ba Hao fuses vintage Chinoiserie décor with on-point cocktails. Signature drinks include Opium, a classic Negroni spiked with ginseng and herbal liquor, and Five Rivers, where five spice is combined with rum and Drambuie
At Tropic City tropical theme informs everything from the décor to the sociable atmosphere on the venue’s outdoor terrace. It is most prominent in the carefully curated cocktail list, which dabbles in gin and mescal while putting the emphasis on rum based drinks. Awarded Best Bar of the city in 2017.
Bangkok’s clubbing scene got a timely boost at the start of 2016 with the opening of Beam. One of the best venues for electronic dance music and other underground sounds in the city, the venue offers a minimal, warehouse-style vibe with state of the art sound and visuals. Look out for Asia’s first “body kinetic” dance floor that shakes vibrations into dancers’ feet. Other clubs in Bangkok that pride themselves on their credibility include Glow, a long-standing favourite of the electro-loving crowd, and Studio Lam, which majors in eclectic sounds ranging from reggae to vintage Thai funk.