Cocktails with an eastern twist
The explosion in the number of places to go for a cocktail in Bangkok shows no signs of letting up – something to celebrate, surely – but it has raised the bar for new watering holes. It’s not enough to simply serve up the classics, even if executed well. The guys who run the mobile bars on soi 11 can do that. Rather, sleeker cocktail bars need to go the extra mile and the folks behind Vie Bar, in the hotel of the same name on Phaya Thai Rd, seem to understand this.
The interior is beautifully designed – when busy it must feel like one of Bangkok’s most stylish haunts but, on those quieter nights, the polished surfaces, hard corners and slinky lines combine to make it feel slightly echoey. It’s an obstacle for all up-market hotel bars – how to be high- fashion and welcoming at the same time.
Vie, though, has a couple of distinct advantages. The first is their access to the menu from YTSB – that’s Yellow Tail Sushi Bar – which is upstairs in the same building. That’s a long way ahead of the usual bar fare.
More importantly, Vie Bar is trying to do something truly interesting with its cocktails, which start at B180, taking the classics and augmenting them by introducing Japanese flavours and ingredients. It doesn’t always come off – very few cocktail bars boast a menu where each concoction is a solid-gold winner – but there’s enough going on to encourage further experimentation.
For example, the Ginza Strip is a gin martini with the addition of cucumber syrup. The idea is intriguing and the drink itself is beautifully presented but the cucumber flavour, although perfectly pleasant, perhaps overwhelms the bite of the martini, which should still be there in a well- balanced cocktail. It’s decidely quaffable and goes down easy but drinkers still want to taste the booze.
The concept works better in the YTSB Mojito, which, as the name gives away, is a standard white-rum mojito elevated spectacularly by the inclusion of umeshu, a Japanese plum liqueur. Mojitos are drunk in vast quantities the world over because they’re refreshing and because the punch of the rum is leavened by the lime and mint. And that’s all going on here, but the umeshu adds a delicious sting in the tail, lingering on the tongue long after the rest of the drink has disappeared down the hatch.
It’s a reminder that this place has some real potential and that, when it hits its stride, could become a favourite.
117/39-40 Phaya Thai Road | 02-309-3939 | www.viehotelbangkok.com | Open daily 6pm-11pm