What was once nicknamed “mother’s ruin” had already replaced rum as the go-to spirit of choice for hipster cocktail drinkers in places as far-flung as England, but now gin is enjoying a renaissance in Bangkok. And there’s no better place to get your fix of juniper-juice than Soi Nana’s Teens of Thailand, where over 100 varieties are in stock and used to unqualified success, and one of Asia’s recently crowned “Best Bars” proves how deserving it is of the accolade.
Founded by some big names in Bangkok’s art and bar scene, including Kachain Wonglamthong and Niks Anuman-Rajadhon, the man behind Drinks Academy and Vice Versa Cocktail, Teens occupies a shophouse that had been left in disrepair for 30 years—without a roof or good plumbing, but with a totally uneven floor. The guys had turned up at the first Craft + Jumble Trail, fallen in love with the neighbourhood, taken down the “For Rent” sign, and coined the name Teens of Thailand as a reference to some of the dodgier aspects of life in Thailand. Following a face-lift, the bar, capable of seating 22, has retained a home-like feel (if your home were in a Nicolas Winding Refn movie). Adding to the mystique, most have to stoop to enter through the antique, too-small Indian door, which leads into a dimly-lit room decorated with old posters and one of Kachain’s photographs hanging over an antique piano.
While the décor is excellent, perfectly suited for Soi Nana’s shophouse revivalism, the drinks nevertheless steal the show. Although you can always order a classic, such as the sublime Aviation—a light mix of Ford’s gin, maraschino cherry, and crème de violette—it’s difficult to recommend what to drink as the menu changes every night. Yes, every night.
Shortly before opening, Niks and the team dream up three or four gin-based specialties, using the ingredients they picked up earlier in the day. Whether the night leads to a refreshing North Side, made with a surprising banana-infused gin, mint, ginger, and a champagne reduction, or a flatteringly named Bangkok 101, a delicious mix of mace-infused gin, grape, black pepper, anise, and yuzu ale, it’s hard to leave feeling disappointed. Especially considering the cocktails, some of the most well-balanced in town, cost only B300 each. But if you really don’t like gin, and you feel you’re not in the wrong place, Teens offers bottles of Chiangmai Red Truck IPA and Singha.
Most refreshing of all, the guys don’t care about marketing, or advertising, or even trends. “We just want to make really good drinks,” says Niks. Mission accomplished.
Teens of Thailand
76 Soi Nana, Charoen Krung Rd | 08 1443 3784 | FB: Teens of Thailand | daily 7pm-late