A good friend challenged me to a beer and cocktail bar hop across Sukhumvit road. Not a challenge I take lightly, so here’s a few friendly stats on the experience:
Types of transportation: 4
Motorbike Rides: 2
Traffic Accidents: 1
Traffic Accidents Avoided: 44.5
Bars Visited: 5
Cocktails Drunk: 6
Beers Dranked: 2.7
Whiskey Dunked: 2
Livers Remaining: 1.5
Chicken Wings Consumed: 20
Bowls of Ramen Consumed: 1.5
Food Costs: 1000 THB ($30)
Booze Costs: 3500 THB ($100)
Transportation Costs: 500 THB ($15)
Total Spent: 5000 THB ($140, or $70 per person)
The challenge meant we would need spend five hours hunting drinks and traveling bar to bar. There’s plenty of ground to cover in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit road area and definitely not enough budget or time to hit them all. I don’t mean one of these pub crawls with random shots of shitty booze and cheesy costume themes. Instead we were hunting new-ish, trendy watering holes and a also hoping to find a few more secret-ish bars, likely off the tourist radar too.
Note: If you’re unfamiliar with the Bangkok bar scene or looking for more cool places to go, click here for my visual starter guide to Bangkok’s cocktail bar scene.
Bar #1: Hooters
Hooters is kinda the male chauvinist version of Chilli’s. Stateside there’s a franchise in every suburb where the chicken wings are decent, other food so-so, but the eye candy from their trademark uniforms keeps dudes coming back. But in Bangkok, it’s the new to town bar replacing Beer Vault at Four Points by Sheraton Hotel. Sadly, the Hooters beer selection won’t impress and the cocktails seem to be geared toward something more poolside. But anyway, just like with rooftop bars or other scenic places around town— you go for the view and you pay for it too!
Specialty: Girl gawking and selfies
Location: Sukhumvit 15, Four Points by Sheraton Hotel
Nearest BTS Station: Nana (but it’s kinda between there and Asoke BTS)
Cost: 1260 THB ($35 for 20 wings, a bloody mary cocktail, and a Day of the Dead beer)
Bar #2: Havana Social
This hidden Cuban style spot is basically reached by a telephone booth just past a male-only massage parlor on party street Sukhumvit 11. To get in you need to know the code to dial on the phone. If you enter it correctly, it buzzes and you can push open a door leading to the bar. I had the old fashioned (290 THB) trying to avoid the mostly sweet Caribbean influenced cocktail menu (think of daiquiris, cuba libres, sour-sweet style drinks), but did also try a few sips of the honeycomb garnished Ricardo Robson (320 THB).
Specialty: Rum and Classic Caribbean Cocktails
Location: Hidden in Sukhumvit 11, near Le Fenix Hotel
Nearest BTS Station: Nana
Cost: 720 THB ($20 for the Ricardo Robson and an old fashioned cocktail)
Bar #3: Q&A Bar
I’d reserved seats at Q&A, but it seems my message was lost in cyber space because the bartenders were a little startled when we arrived just as they opened at 7pm. Fortunately, things chilled out as our orders went in and a few other customers showed up early too. The team is the same as Sugar Ray (Ekkamai Soi 21, now closed for renovation), but in this new bar they’re promising sophisticated diversions from the classic cocktails they’re known for making. The Ambrosia Cloudy Punch (infused green apple vodka, apple shrub, muddled kiwi, lemon juice, and garnished with absinthe leaf – 390 THB) was an interesting sweet and sour combo, but the Milano Negroni’s (Gin, Campari, Carpano antica, fruit infused sweet vermouth – 420 THB) complexity was lost to the potency of the Campari.
Specialty: Sophisticated Classics
Location: Asoke Rd., Sukhumvit 21 (in the alley with Asoke Residence Sukhumvit)
Nearest BTS Station: Asoke (or better yet, Phetchaburi MRT Station)
Cost: around 800 THB ($22 for two cocktails, the Ambrosia)
Bar #4: Mikkeller
Mikkeller is for beer lovers who’re ready to level up by trying experimental craft beers. You’d need to spend some serious time her though to get a handle on all they offer. Lucky the staff is pretty happy to pour a small tasting of any of the 30 beers on tap you’d like to try. I tried about 5-7 beers and drunk a glass of “Under the Milky Way” (240 THB) an Amager imperial stout that’s a hefty 11% ABV. That’s beer speak for a heavy, sweet, and smooth dark beer that’ll have the room spinning if you toss back too quickly. Also be on the look out for collaborations with famous breweries/restaurants and the latest “beer of the moment” or blends they do for a particular occasion— like Christmas beer!
Specialty: Crazy diverse beer selection and helpful staff
Location: Deep in Ekkamai Soi 10, Yaek 2
Nearest BTS Station: Ekkamai
Cost: 300 THB (roughly $8 for a beer, including tip)
Bonus Stop: Tasting Room and Upstairs at Mikeller
I previously mentioned Upstairs at Mikkeller as one of the Bangkok’s hot restaurants in November. The space hasn’t been launched long and offers a tasting menu where you’re presented 9 fine dining style courses, but instead of the wine pairing, they’ve installed 5 taps upstairs to let the beer flow during dinner. There’s also a tasting room outside the main Mikkeller house, where you can grab a bottle of your favorite Mikkeller craft beer to go.
Specialty: Craft beer dinner pairings and bottled Mikkeller brews
Location: Above Mikkeller’s main bar room
Nearest BTS Station: Ekkamai
Bar #5: The Bar Vagabond
This place is special. Hard to find, dark and smokey. If you’ve experienced quality Japanese whiskey bars, you’ll appreciate the attention to customers and the hoarders inspired spirits collection displayed both behind the bar, and on the stretching adjacent wall. Also compared to Hailiang (Sukhumvit Soi 33) and some of the other similar Japanese bars, Vagabond is more reasonably priced.
Specialty: Privacy and customer service
Location: Thonglor Soi 18, in the building before Max Value
Nearest BTS Station: Thonglor
Cost: 1100 THB ($30 for two servings of Single Malt Miyagikyo NAS whiskey, and a negroni cocktail)
Bonus Stop: Hokkaido Ramen Yuushi (北海道ラーメン ゆうし)
Take all that alcohol and pour some ramen on top before bed! This ramen spot, popular with Japanese living nearby, is open late and does plenty of izakaya style snacks too. I tried a large bowl of their miso butter corn ramen with a side of extra chashu pork and tofu plate. The bowl was filling and tasty, but I’ll probably forgo the butter popcorn flavors for a more traditional ramen on the next visit.
Specialty: Open late, tasty chashu
Location: Thonglor Soi 18, At the botton of Thonglor Towers
Nearest BTS Station: Thonglor
Cost: 400 THB ($11 for ramen and a tofu plate)