The Craft Gin Club recently had the opportunity to check out Thailand and all of its splendour. It wasn’t much of a cocktail tour and certainly not a gin tour (all the best gins are in the UK - why bother to travel for them:-) and you mostly end up drinking beer with your amazing Thai food. But we did have great experiences over a couple of not-so-great cocktails in Bangkok.
We had two nights in the Thai capital and visited two cocktail bars worth speaking of.
The first was a posh hotel bar, Vertigo and Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel. The restaurant / bar area takes up the entire roof of the building, stretching from end to end. If a fear of heights and tendency to vertigo don’t bother you, then you’re free to walk around. Spectacular views. You can see the whole city. The cocktail bar section of the hotel is on one end of the rooftop complete with 360º bar at the center and lounge chairs and cocktail tables surrounding the bar. If you didn’t look up, you may actually think you were in a cozy, chic, dimly-lit basement bar.
Although the view was incredible and the service very good, the cocktails weren’t anything to brag about. Between us we had a Negroni, a Margarita, an Aviation and a glass of white wine. None of them were terribly well made. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. We think our palate is just used to a little more refinement from our favourite barmen in the West. And it helps that we have access to craft spirits and mixers whereas they’re hard to come by in Bangkok.
Even though the drinks weren’t great and just as expensive if not more than drinking at a London cocktail bar (we spent about £55 for the four drinks), the views were incredible and overall is was well worth the trip up to the top of the hotel.
We didn’t eat in the adjoining restaurant, firstly because they didn’t serve Thai food, and secondly, you can get incredible street food for a couple of quid. There’s really little point in splashing out on Western food that won’t be as good as in the West when you’ve got delicious local food for the price of a packet of crisps.
Watching the sunset over the Temple of Dawn
The second was for the sunset looking over the Chao Phraya River which starts hundreds of kilometres to the north of Bangkok, cuts through the capital and flows out into the Gulf of Thailand. After checking out the Royal Palace and a huge reclining Buddha, we had a drink near the Tha Tien pier in the Old City looking over Wat Arun, or Temple of Dawn”, (yes, it’s ironic that we were there for the sunset, but hey, we were looking west).
The bar at the Sala Arun Residence was on a laid back rooftop terrace overlooking the river. Once again, the view (and the sunset) were spectacular but the cocktails mediocre at best. Very sugary. We stuck to beer after the first cocktail. We could have gone for a G&T but Gilbey’s and Thai tonic wouldn’t have been as refreshing as the light Thai beer. All in all, poor mixology didn’t ruin the experience at all. The sunset was beautiful and the lights on Wat Arun after the sun disappeared made for a very pleasant evening.
Heard it through the expat vine
Here are a few of the other hotel bars with great views over the city that were recommended to us: