On weekends, the rat race retreats from memory. Kids play. Adults unwind. Recreation replaces office files and figures. As the sun shines over the capital, the population coalesces in the quest for life’s finer things. Bound by a proverb for the light-hearted, the mellow, the carefree, many have sniffed out a new rendezvous point, one that embodies the evolution of Bangkok’s hangout scene: Craft. With a focus on exceptional drinks, all-embracing entertainment, and conversation, Sukhumvit 23’s beer mecca captures the essence of what a weekend afternoon – any afternoon – in town can be.
When Craft opened last September, there weren’t any hard-set plans for development. “In front of Giorgio’s was this dark balcony that made the place look empty,” says M. Hillman Lentz, president and CEO of Hathor Investment Group, the driving force behind Craft and Whisgars. “We asked if we could tear it down and put in a pop-up bar. Pretty soon we realized we were on to something special.”
With eight rotating taps and dozens of bottles provided by Beervana, Craft appeals to hopheads above all. It’s one of few places in the city that serves draft beer from stalwart American brands like Deschutes and Anderson Valley, as well as Japanese ventures like Baird Beer. Fallow, floral pale ales – including rare selections from Two Tales, a Praguebased brewery whose founders reside in Thailand – and stouts and porters rich with the flavour of oak barrels, coffee, and chocolate comprise the ever-changing menu.
Beer bounty aside, the bar’s most extraordinary qualities centre on atmosphere. An open-air venue – the décor defined by natural wood, silver tap handles, bottlegreen artificial grass, and chalkboards specifying current pours – Craft resembles a modern brewpub from Seattle. It’s a palimpsest, the strata shaped by drinking culture and a sense of community. Whether early or late, local luminary Randy Tinsley tends to the scene, chatting up regulars and newbies. For him, this is an avocation, a late-career pursuit taken up out of pleasure, and his passion is contagious.
On Sunday, the lawn fills with families (pets included) inveigled by the scent of Daniel Thaiger’s grilled burgers, a fixture to remain throughout 2015, and the promise of cold, hearty beer to wash them down, an ingredient long missing from the equation. With a project under way that will build 40 taps behind the bar and new plans popping up each day, this community hot spot is fast on the rise, developing much like it began: one bright idea at a time.
16 Sukhumvit 23 | 08 1919 5349 | craftbangkok.com