Bangkok’s original Tiki bar beckons once again
Trends are cyclical, and the nightlife scene is fickle, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Tiki bars are having another moment in the sun. This year, hibiscus patterns and tropical drinks have appeared in bars from Ari to the Old Town. With island vibes in vogue again, now is a good time to pull your Aloha shirt out of retirement and revisit Bangkok’s original haole haunt: Trader Vic’s.
Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, Trader Vic’s, ideally located in the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, was playing host to bands, brunches, and farewell bashes long before bars were built outside of hotels. Even after urban development, outside trends, and bartenders brought up in the Digital Age started to reshape the city’s F&B scene, this bar and restaurant was still serving Mai Tais and ribs to happy houses.
Bangkok’s Trader Vic’s, like the other 18 branches across the world, mirrors the flagship outlet in Emeryville, California; overflowing with Polynesian Tiki masks and wooden replicas of Chinese junks. It overlooks a body of water (the Chao Phraya River rather than the San Francisco Bay), and exotic cocktails are its trademark. Recently, it’s brought in two new bands—a soft rock group from Monday to Wednesday, and a jazzy, energetic trio from Thursday to Saturday—and shaken up the specials. That’s given the venue a shot in the arm.
On Fridays, swing by for ‘Prawns, Ribs & Bibs’. The menu offers Pacific Rim-inspired cuisine prepared by Chef Alessandro di Cecco, whose résumé includes a stint under Gordon Ramsay. Choose from three kinds of prawns, in flavours ranging from pineapple- and curry-laced Creole to coconut-kissed Maui Waui (B580 each). Go for a platter and you get the prawns with a rack of ribs and a pitcher of beer or frozen margarita (B1900). The signature Asian-glazed and Jamaican jerk ribs go especially well with the venue’s calling card: the 1944 Mai Tai (B260).
As you may recall, Trader Vic’s invented the Mai Tai, and this recipe pays tribute to the original: dark rum, lime, a little syrup, orange curacao, some French Orgeat, and crushed ice. It’s a beautiful thing as is, but if you feel the need for a twist, the Maui Mai Tai (B260) adds sweetness to the equation in the form of pineapple juice.
This is the kind of place begging you to let your hair down, but maybe you should keep your hair up if you order the Tiki Bowl (B350). A blend of light and dark rums, brandy, Orgeat, and orange juice, and served with copious straws in a kava bowl featuring moai as legs, the cocktail is made for two. If that doesn’t lighten the mood, get a Rum Keg (B750). This potent mix of rum and tropical fruit is made for four people and served in, yes… a mini-keg.
By Craig Sauers
Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort
257/1-3 Charoennakorn Rd.
Tel: 02 476 0022
Open: Mon-Sat, 6pm-midnight; closed for dinner on Sundays