Gaggan Anand's Favorite Bars in Bangkok
With an entire tasting menu characterized by emojis, and at least one course during which guests lick a trio of purées off a plate, progressive Bangkok-based chef Gaggan Anand has made waves not only in Thailand but around the world since the 2010 inception of his eponymous modern Indian engagement, Gaggan.
Over the years, Anand has helped launch a number of additional comparatively unsung local restos, but the success of his namesake, which is currently number one on S.Pellegrino's Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list, continues to outshine the rest. Come this spring though, Anand is looking to debut two new concepts: a tofu omakase joint and a natural wine bar. Call it R&D, or simply call it fun, but when the busy chef isn't scheming new restaurants, you might spy him sipping a Hendrick's and tonic at a number of Bangkok watering holes. Here, Anand shares his favorite bars, from high to low, for unwinding after service on any given night.
Thanks to patronage from local chefs, French salon-inspired Smalls has become the city's late-night hospitality industry hang. Four years ago, American photographer David Jacobson opened the comfortable drinking den in an effort to offer an unfussy, quality-minded option to contrast Bangkok's ubiquitous tourist-trap bars. Decked out with art by some of Thailand's biggest names, Smalls is a place with "no gimmicks or silly promotions," Jacobson explains. It's also where you'll find one of Bangkok's latest-operating kitchens, offering a mix of foie gras, fried chicken and yum wong sen goong (spicy glass noodles with shrimp), alongside drinks like a Negroni or Passionjito.
Within a year of its 2015 debut inside a 90-year-old shophouse, Teens of Thailand quickly hit Asia's 50 Best Bars list, earning street cred for its wise approach to gin. Serving as Thailand's first gin-devoted abode, and sourcing 120 bottles from the UK and elsewhere, partner Niks Anuman-Rajadhon builds expert juniper-focused libations. He has a keen eye for gin and tonics, with a medley of classics, plus ones imbued with Thai ingredients like jackfruit, chrysanthemum and Thai tea.
③ The Bamboo Bar at the Mandarin Oriental
The Mandarin Oriental's Bamboo Bar is a posh place that has been slinging liquid salvation since the 50s, attracting foreigners and well-heeled Bangkok denizens who lean toward old-fashioneds and Thai tea milk punches. Stocked with one of the city's most comprehensive whiskey collections, Bamboo Bar hones in on Scotch but also lists a handful of scarce selections from Japan. The dark, colonial-designed venue—which underwent a renovation not too long ago—has, over the years, earned a reputation as one of the city's top live music bars. You just might find Anand catching tunes, gin and tonic in hand.
Serving cheap beer from a self-serve fridge for almost four decades, Wong's Place is an after-hours institution, beloved by its diverse, international clientele—from backpackers to pseudo-celebrities—for its classic beats and lack of polish. A cramped, low-lit place boasting red paper lanterns and walls lined with customer photographs, it's "a sleezy underground bar," Anand says with a laugh, adding that "they cheat you, but that's your only option after 2 a.m." And that's precisely the charm.
Kat Odell, a freelance food and travel writer, is the author of Day Drinking. Follow her on Instagram at @kat_odell.
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