This miniscule Old Town bar punches above its weight.
Despite what your ex girlfriend screamed at you, smaller is sometimes better, and Escapade proves it. Located on Phra Arhit Road, this is a new hole-inthe- wall bar so minute that you have to squeeze past strangers to enter; and yet, we’d still much rather be sitting on a stool here than at one of the hundreds of other options just around the corner.
There are a few reasons why this is so. The first: it’s friendly. Unlike most joints in the vicinity of Khao San Road, where a ‘beer pretty’ (an attractive but surly waitress who tries to flog you the beer brand she represents) redefines bad service all night long unless you cave in and buy her product,
Escapade is welcoming. The owners, Khun Karn and Khun Van, are the sorts of locals you might actually strike up a conversion with (and also come out with lines that make a refreshing change from the usual bar-owner hype: “If we wanted everyone to come we would have opened a 7-Eleven”, etc).
The second: Karn Liangsrisuk is a whiz with his cocktail mixing jar. A former bartender at the Shangri-La and Mandarin Oriental, two of the city’s top luxury hotels, Karn is widely considered to be one of Bangkok’s best. And if you want proof, look no further than the long list of consultancy work he’s done for restaurants such as The Local and Whale’s Belly, and the fact that he almost won the 2012 Bacardi bartending contest.
The third: instead of handing you an expensive list of fancy signature cocktails, much as he would have done at his old gigs, Karn has decided to keep his prices low and split the creative onus with his customers. What do you fancy today, sir? Something strong yet sweet and fruity, you say? Open up, tell him your wildest alcohol-sodden fantasies, and Karn will deliver you the cocktail of your dreams in minutes.
Our manna from bar heaven: a blend of rose and saffron flavoured rum (just one of many homemade rums here), Aperol, apple juice, saffron, rose pea and sakula syrup. Creative, tasty and strong, the only giveaway that we weren’t in some hoity toity joint was the price tag (prices veer from a bargain B140 to a cheap B200 depending on the cocktail’s complexity) and the plastic cup (there’s not enough space to store glasswear apparently). If you’re not a drinker, he also rustles up some very unique teas, shakes and smoothies too.
Number four: food. Khun Van, a chef, was equally good at the grill on our visit, rustling us up a trio of lip smacking bar grub. There was the ‘Dead Dog’, which we were pleased to find was not what we thought it was (see p.100 for our story on Thailand’s repugnant dog meat trade) but a hot dog buried in jalapeno peppers and sizzling bacon; a basket of honey-glazed deep-fried chicken (a little sticky for our liking, but tasty); and a burger, the BTS, with a wholemeal bun and filling of bacon, tuna and shallots, that we’ll definitely be coming back for. The homemade ketchup was a tasty touch too.
There are probably more strings in Escapade’s bow, but we’ll stop there. Only because we have to. We recall seeing some cool art on the black walls, squeezing past our new friends to take a look at the cosy garden with seating out back, losing our concentration when we saw the freaky mural paintings on the toilet walls; but honestly, soon enough things got a little hazy, just the way a night at a good neighbourhood bar should.
112 Pra-Artit Rd, Pranakorn | 08-7363-2629, 08-1406-3773 | Tue – Sun 12pm-12am | facebook.com/escaburgersandshakes