Where “spirits” lurk behind the bar… and possibly beyond
Fans of themed bars may enjoy Gypsy Spells, an establishment focused on fortune telling, live music, and Thai legends. Adjacent to the long-standing Myth of Mahanaga restaurant, located at the mouth of Sukhumvit Soi 29, the lounge is housed in a century-old colonial-style house that used to be situated next to Chao Phraya River.
The walls are covered with oversized tarot cards, and weekend nights a fortune teller is present to provide readings. The original house owner was allegedly a great admirer of François Girard’s 1998 film The Red Violin, and the bar was designed after the movie—with additional gypsy flourishes and what look like London lanterns. The emphasis on red is unmistakable, and a lovely carved cabinet with mirror occupies the center of the wall behind the bar.
Part of the house’s spooky legend is that the owner’s wife died and—some Thais speculated—because the husband’s family may not have approved of the marriage, spirits once resided in the dwelling.
The bar’s interior is dark, edged by sofas, and large parties will savour the seclusion of a long table upstairs that looks down upon a courtyard.
Bartender An recommended an Around the World (B290), featuring vodka, triple sec, gin, white rum, tequila, scotch whiskey, midori, and sweet and sour, which tasted oddly mild for a cocktail with so much alcohol in it.
Never shy about partaking in ya dong, the herbal moonshine believed to offer health benefits, the five-shot Ya Dong Experience (B500)—available till Valentine’s Day—was a mixed bag. A couple of the concoctions tasted a bit clean and watered down, lacking the astringent kick on the back of the tongue. But the Mao Tse Tung shot was a showstopper, redolent in angelica root and other herbs, providing a warming tang on the finish.
By contrast, the Wazatini (B290) will put your appreciation of wasabi to the test, as the martini is an explosion of pastoral sweet and bitter on the palate.
Gypsy Spells even made the effort to bring in a tarot card reader to work with An to develop drinks based on the zodiac, with the reader believing people born under certain signs share characteristics and thus will share taste preferences.
The bar schedules live gypsy jazz music on Friday nights and blues on Saturdays. The tunes playing during my visit did feature an accordion, but certainly didn’t qualify entirely as gypsy music.
Patrons can also order food from the full menu of Myth of Mahanaga restaurant, including a line-up of drinking snacks or gap klaem. The Gai Tod Som Tum (B280), classic Thai fried chicken with papaya salad, went down easy with the cocktails.
By Robin Banks
2, Sukhumvit Soi 29 | Tel: 02 662 3060
Open daily 5:30pm to midnightwww.mahanaga.com