Speakeasy feel at Thong Lor’s most ideal watering hole
If you were to ask Bangkok bar-goers to describe their ideal watering hole, it might be some combination of dark, plenty of wood, excellent bespoke cocktails, engaging bartenders, and not an ounce of pretentiousness. New entrant Thaipioka ticks all those boxes, and can already lay claim to being one of the city’s best bars after little more than two months of operation.
The bar hints at speakeasy culture with an unmarked door in the Salil Hotel compound on Thong Lor Soi 1. The candlelit wooden bar seems to never end—accented by unfinished logs as footrests and wooden chairs—while the music is soft enough to allow conversation.
The group behind Thaipioka has a pedigree that includes Dim Dim and Q&A, and the some of the bartenders are alumni of Hyde & Seek. The featured cocktail menu varies monthly based on what is in season, and is inspired by the bartenders’ own memories. This is easily discerned because the boys behind the bar are gregarious and eager to tell you about their concoctions. In fact, if you go early enough in the night, Thaipioka is like visiting the house of a friend who just happens to mix great drinks.
The 10 featured cocktails are divided between “short”, which are stiffer, and “long”, which are fruitier. The Crying Tiger Grilled (B400) has aged rum, rye, real cow fat, absinthe, and bitters. It was designed by bartender Pae, who has experience working for a BBQ company and saved the fat that dripped off grilled beef and used it to infuse the rum. The drink has a smoky texture and is served with dill, as a nod to Pae’s Isaan roots.
The Sesame Manhattan (B360) features black sesame whisky, Cynar, maraschino liqueur, and black walnut bitters for a surprisingly smooth finish. The grainy, nutty taste is enhanced by the addition of essence of dehydrated corn and a walnut garnish.
Pineapple Spicy Plum (B360) is the best-seller so not likely to disappear from the menu anytime soon. With rum, yuzu plum wine, homemade pineapple cordial, lime, and chili dust and salt each earning 50% of the rim, this cocktail is the perfect mix of sour, spicy, and sweet. It would be easy to keep drinking this libation all night.
Turmeric Thai Tea (B340), with turmeric-infused vodka, Thai tea booze, absinthe, lemon, honey, and seltzer, sounds like it would be sickly sweet, but it is zesty and herbal, hitting all the right tones. The Pandan & Mulberry Sangria (B340) has longan-infused bourbon to mellow it out, and shaved coconut on top of the drink to cut the pandan aroma, making for a light, fresh punch.
The Chocolate Ginger Negroni (B340) is an example of the balance the bar seeks in its cocktails, with the zing of ginger and bitter cocoa nibs infused in the gin, in addition to black pepper and the aroma of orange peel. The result is subtle and layered.
By Robin Banks
44/7, Thong Lor Soi 1 (Salil Hotel)
Tel: 087 713 6943
Open daily: 7pm till late