High-end lounge bar blends world-class jazz and locally inspired cocktails
Hotel lounges don’t typically attract locals. After all, why rub shoulders with short-timers when there are so many other places you can get a drink in the company of fellow residents? Credit where credit is due, then, as the Conrad Bangkok hotel’s stylish Diplomat Bar defies this trend.
Named for its location along Embassy Row (aka: Wireless Road), the Diplomat Bar draws in its share of dealmakers. Drop by any night and you’re likely to find suited and booted business types chatting over martinis. Dark wood touches, soft yellow lighting, and a den-like feel partly account for its popularity. The setting, however, isn’t the only thing the bar has going for it.
From 8pm Monday to Thursday and 8:30pm Friday and Saturday, a band sets up in the lounge, playing jazz and R&B riffs. Until April 14th, that band will be led by Tabitha King, a North Carolina native who knows how to work a crowd. After a couple of openers to lull you into the rhythm, her voice might suddenly climb the scales, suggesting you should maybe set down that cocktail for a minute and pay attention to the music. In other words, order rounds between sets.
When it’s time for another drink, the menu has a number of classic cocktails and a surprisingly robust range of craft beers to satisfy thirsts. Recently, the bar introduced some signature drinks to the line-up, as well. These offer a local twist, as if to remind you that you are, in fact, sitting in a lounge in Bangkok.
The B Sweet (B380) reinterprets mango sticky rice in a martini glass. It’s a blend of dark rum, fresh mango, and coconut, topped with toasted sticky rice for textural contrast. Smooth, sweet, and easy-drinking, it might disappear as quickly as a plate of that timeless Thai dessert.
The Chili Chill Chill (B350), on the other hand, should last longer. The cocktail features the same herbs and aromatics used in tom yam, as well as an unusual splash of elderflower syrup with lemon juice and vodka. Applying the same principles of layering used in Thai cooking, the bartenders unite sweet, savoury, sour, and spicy elements. Just make sure to get some of the chilli salt on the rim for the right balance.
The Tammy Fresh (B350) will be more familiar. Similar to a mojito, albeit zestier, this rum cocktail is rounded out with tamarind juice, lime juice, brown sugar, and soda water.
The Diplomat Bar isn’t just a night-time venue, though. It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and even afternoon tea. With the tea set—available from 2:30pm to 5pm (B430 for one, B790 for two)—you have the option of ordering wine as well, which might be a nice precursor to the evening ahead.
By Craig Sauers
The Diplomat Bar
1F, Conrad Bangkok Hotel
87 Wireless Road
Open: Sun-Thu, 7am-1am, Fri-Sat, 7am-2am
Tel: 02 690 9244