As afternoon turns to evening, the vibe at the Balcony Lounge builds. Seats are taken, neckties are loosened, and jazz piano fills the space between conversations and cocktails at InterContinental Bangkok’s plush post-work gathering place. But whilst the Balcony Lounge may be ideal for sharpish out-of-office drinks, there’s no better place to decompress than the hotel’s very own Humidor cigar bar.
With an incredible selection of premium cigars, most coming from Cuba—including a variety of Cohibas and Montecristos—the Humidor is a prime destination for connoisseurs of life’s finer things. Settle into a leather sofa, order a medium-bodied Bolivar, and maybe crack open a book as the fading sunlight reflects off the room’s silver accents. The Humidor is the kind of place where time seems to slow down at your command. And it isn’t just quality cigars, soft leather, and a total lack of urgency that distinguish this space, either. Impeccable cocktails prepared by resident barman Seksun Yonglek pair perfectly with the flavours and aromas of the Cubans on offer, taking this sophisticated library-lounge to a somewhat higher echelon.
“I love the creativity of mixology,” explains Seksun, a selftaught veteran of flair competitions who, after some urging, throws a bottle of lime juice over his head with one hand, snatches it with the other, and starts to loop it around his back. “But when I’m drinking, I prefer the classics, like the Old Fashioned— a little strong, always smooth.”
With his Old Fashioned, Seksun doesn’t shy away from tradition—he builds on it. First, he muddles a sugar cube with Angostura bitters, marrying the two ingredients. To this he adds 50ml of Chivas Regal 18, a uniquely rich blend of malt and grain whiskies from distilleries across Scotland, including the classic Speyside malt from Strathisla. Its prominent notes of dark chocolate and orange, as well as a sweet, lingering smokiness, provide a pleasant bitterness that complements the cocktail’s mellow notes. After a few stirs, he twists orange peel over the mix and wipes the rim of the glass with it, amplifying the aromatics. The flavours and mouthfeels form a complex harmony, swirling from cool to warm and sweet to smoky, letting the whisky shine all the while. Simple, yet sublime.
For pairing with cigars, especially those with roasted, earthy notes, Seksun’s Old Fashioned represents an exciting diversion from bourbon and single malts on the rocks. The drink doesn’t dominate the cigar, or vice versa. Rather, the underlying bitter elements brought out by the Chivas Regal 18 complement the finest of the Humidor’s many offerings.
“The best ingredients make all the difference,” says the surprisingly stoic Seksun, a nod to the savvy move to elevate the world’s most popular cocktail with this iconic Scotch whisky blend.
You don’t have to enjoy cigars to appreciate the intricate balance of Seksun’s drinks, though. The Humidor is so well-ventilated that only a trace of cigar smoke remains in the air, like a slowly fading spritz of a sweet perfume. So stop by the Balcony Lounge for jazz and good company, or retreat to the Humidor, where you can enjoy your own company even when the room is full. No matter your taste in setting, the long-time bartender has a classic cocktail with your name on it.