You could fill weeks traveling in Bangkok, Thailand. Stroll through the flower vendors at Pak Khlong Talat, ogle the golden Buddha at Wat Pho, cruise the Chao Phraya River or go shopping at the infamous Chatuchak weekend market. With all the activities to cram into a few days (because, let’s face it, who has weeks to devote to one city?), you are going to need a drink at day’s end. Sit for sunset along the river and then head into to the belly of the city for cocktails and dinner.
THE SIAM HOTEL
Fairly new to town, this hotel offers guests everything from luxury accommodation to art. The owner’s have an exquisite collection of artifacts, antiques and rare sculptures that essentially create a museum within a hotel. Other fun touches include a Muay Thai kickboxing training school inside the gym, and if you stay for dinner, you can eat in houses that once belonged to famous expat/silk exporter, Jim Thompson. The hotel relocated the structures to the property.
Even if you can’t afford to shack up at Siam, definitely stop in for a cocktail and peruse the art, some of which dates back to 800 B.C. There are a couple of bars on property, but I like the dock seating, overlooking the river at dusk. This whole operation gives off the essence of what it meant to be a guest in old Siam — luxury, leisure, flavor and a true appreciation of history. Where else on Earth gives you all that and a great cocktail?
Drink: The Siam Mojito, which includes a little tamarind and fresh sugar cane. It’s different. It’s delicious. ($10)
Details: 3/2 Thanon Khao, Vachirapayabal, Dusit, Bangkok; thesiamhotel.com.
In terms of craft cocktails coming to Bangkok, the biggest splash was made a couple of years ago with the opening of a bar/restaurant called Hyde & Seek. They still serve a mean whiskey sour there and it’s a fabulous place to drink, but I also love its sister property Smith — a western-style venture by celebrity-chef owner Ian Kittichai. The food is hearty, farm-to-table British/American — i.e. pig trotters and beef tartare — and the cocktails could easily stand up and sing in London or NYC. The Fiona, for example, arrives in a massive Champagne flute, heavily floral and inviting with gorgeous violet notes. Or, sip the Phillip Smith, a warming tipple of bourbon and apple, with a sour kick that cuts the fat of pork belly like a chainsaw through a pillow. ($8-10)
Details: Smith, 1/8 Sukhumvit Soi 49, Bangkok; smith-restaurant.com.