When the last visitors leave the gilded temples and the nine-to-fivers clock out, they’re all united by a common goal: soaking up the buzzy Bangkok nightlife. Instead of a rowdy evening with the crowds on Th Khao San, escape to a hidden speakeasy to find an equally authentic slice of Bangkok’s famous nightlife scene.
Your after-dark adventure could begin by ducking down secret passageways or discovering the way in via a broken phone booth. These six bars — and the drinks you’ll find there — are worth the search.
Discover Cuba at Havana Social
To find Thailand’s ode to Cuba, venture to the back of Sukhumvit Soi 11 past a few shady massage places and look for a telephone booth labelled ‘Telefono,’ the portal to enter Havana Social (facebook.com/havanasocialbkk). Ring the bar on your modern day phone to get that night’s custom entry code and then punch it into the payphone. The door will swing open, granting access to the crumbling shophouse straight out of pre-revolution Havana. Dancing and live Cuban music entertain the crowd of well-heeled expats, and the rum-soaked menu is a nod to the bar’s origins. Before you leave, head upstairs for other Cuban mainstays, like cigars and sandwiches.
Drink with the king of cocktails at J. Boroski Mixology
After spending years crafting cocktail menus for Bangkok’s luxury hotels and buzz-worthy bars, Joseph Boroski finally set up his eponymous cocktail bar. Boroski hired the city’s best bartenders, who are actually worthy of the pretentious title of mixologists, but stopped short of limiting their creativity with a menu, which means each boozy concoction is custom made to fit your mood and taste preference. So secretive is this drinking den that we’re forbidden to publish an official address, but the bar is hidden down an unmarked alleyway just before Thong Lor Soi 7.
Sip gin at Teens of Thailand
The tiny Teens of Thailand is arguably one of Bangkok’s hottest bars thanks to the team of ace bartenders and their fondness for small batch liquors. Even with all the buzz, it’s easy to blow past the discreet shophouse entrance. But open a pair of worn-out wooden doors adorned with haphazardly placed stickers on Soi Nana in Chinatown, and you’ll find an intimate industrial space. Inside, the two-person bar has a vast collection of imported, locally distilled and house-infused gins, and the chalkboard menu, limited to five drinks, changes daily. After you discuss your order with the bartender, mingle with the local artsy crowd who are frequent patrons.
Step back in time at Q&A
Limited to just 10 leather barstools and designed to look like a 1920s railroad car, Q&A (qnabar.com) achieves an authentic speakeasy look and feel. Behind the well-polished and dimly lit bar, uniformed barmen pour bespoke libations over hand-fashioned ice. The cocktail menu changes seasonally to make use of the best local fruits and flavours, but standouts include the booze-heavy Comte De Monte Cristo, made with aged rum, Ethiopian coffee and pecan-infused port wine. Book barstools in advance if you’re coming at the weekend. A green door imprinted with a question mark identifies the hidden entrance.
Hunt for secret rooms at Maggie Choo’s
Designed by Bangkok legend Ashley Sutton and popular with locals, expats and travellers with a recent edition of any guidebook, there isn’t much that’s hidden about Maggie Choo’s anymore. Set in a former bank vault, this bar is a grown-up playground straight out of 1930s Shanghai with cheongsam-clad girls floating idly on swings while live music fills the bar and potent cocktails are served. But even the most frequent of visitors may never make it behind the vaulted doors and into the maze of private tunnels and poker rooms. Hunting down the way in is half the fun, and once you find the rooms, anything goes.
Sample craft cocktails at Rabbit Hole
Craft cocktails dominate the menu at this upscale bar where award-winning bartenders use small batch distilled spirits and homemade infusions to create rockstar concoctions. A signature drink on the lengthy menu is a white truffle martini made with truffle-infused gin that is chilled and served straight with a splash of dry vermouth. Another standout infusion is the spade gardener, which pairs an apricot-infused rum with plum bitters and a garnish of a locally grown Chinese plum. There isn’t a sign outside, but Rabbit Hole (facebook.com/rabbitholebkk) is behind a sliding wooden door and sandwiched between a Japanese restaurant and a ramen joint, both ideal next stops after a few rounds of drinks.