A pair of whisky and cigar bars that define elegance and sophistication
Serving an array of rare and fine whiskies, the second outpost of Character Whisky & Cigar Bar is an exclusive lounge set on the 32nd floor of the Compass Skyview Hotel. The first Character bar opened in the Anantara Hotel Siam, a smaller, ground-level cove, perfect for hiding away with the newspaper, a cigar in one hand, a tumbler of whisky in the other. The second outpost followed a few months later, adding, this time, a breathtaking panoramic view of Bangkok—especially superb on the outdoor terrace.
I take my seat inside, on one of the plush, leather armchairs and study the extensive index of whiskies (over 100 stocked), running through with my finger, pretending that I know what I’m doing. Prices range from B250 to B3,000 for a glass, so I’d better. I stop at ones with names I can pronounce, then tap on the description confidently, “Yes, yes, that one, please. Very good indeed”. The staff seem convinced and proceed to pour.
Hepburn’s Choice is my choice also, a Scottish single malt (Fettercam 7 Year Old) and independently-bottled by the Langside Distillers—one of only 85 bottles. I slug back the amber liquor, it’s as smooth and silky as a firstborn’s tears. I feel vindicated.
Then, I’m handed a cigar. I roll the stogie between my fingertips, raising it to my nose (I’ve seen other people do this). A leggy seductress—put there to lure me out of all of the money I don’t have—cuts the base and lights the front, handing it back to me. I chug with enthusiasm. It’s damn good. “Our best seller,” she tells me. I’m just some wash-ashore English goon out of his comfort zone, but this all seems rather spectacular. I find myself the happiest and most comfortable I’ve been since arriving in Bangkok a few weeks ago.
I read the cigar band: CAO Pilón Corona (Nicaragua). At first, it’s sweet and bready, like a 7-Eleven cinnamon roll, but then matures to a cedary finish. As fragrant as a novice cigar-rollers inner top thigh. I knock back the rest of my whisky to refresh. “A refill, sir?”
Leaving the comfort of my armchair, I enter the walk-in humidor for a blast of cold air—always 20°C, 70 percent humidity—and study the comprehensive library of over 100 premium, hand-made cigars. Beautifully crafted, musky boxes carry imports from Cuba, Nicaragua, Brazil, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic, some with small signs noting top honours from industry magazines such as Cigar Snob and Cigar Aficionado.
Returning to the comfort of my chair, I’m given a liberal serving of Old Pulteney (12 Years Old) from Caithness in the Highlands, along with my choice of three bottles of Scottish spring water. Not one, three. My cigar is re-lit and handed back to me with a smile. Ah, what a place!
A three-tier membership here starts at B45,000 (Kennedy Membership), B95,000 (Castro Membership), and finally an eye-watering—or is it the smoky room—B165,000 (Churchill Membership), with varying benefits and privileges, though, walk-ins are also welcome. Brimming with ‘character’, ahem, and class, I think I’ll probably go back tonight.
By David J. Constable
NOTE: The whiskies—as well as bourbons, rums, cognacs, and wines—are available as single servings or bottles, and single cigars are available as well as boxes.
Character Whisky & Cigar Bar
32/F, Compass Skyview Hotel
12, Sukhumvit Soi 24, Tel: 02 011 1133
Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel
Gf, 155 Rajadamri Rd, Tel: 02 254 4726