The next chapter in Bangkok’s ever-changing cocktail and nightlife scene? Drinking your Thai food. Call it a liquid dinner or gastronomy in a glass, but Silom’s long-running Eat Me restaurant is out to win over the masses, one alcoholic green curry at a time.
‘I don’t just make these cocktails,’ says Eat Me’s head bartender Buntanes ‘Pop’ Direkrittikuls. ‘I cook them.’ And while Pop may not quite be ready to add chef to his resume, his new ‘Sip Some Thai’ cocktail menu is more like a boozy dinner than a flight of cocktails.
This ‘gastronomy in a glass idea’ started two years ago with what is now Pop’s signature drink: laab moo. This Northeastern spicy minced pork salad becomes, with the bartender’s twist, a vodka-based drink with mint and shallots, topped with a strip of crispy Serrano ham and a rim generously lined with cilantro, roasted rice and mint flakes. And if you like it phet mak, Pop, like any good cook, can adjust the spice level.
Eat Me isn’t the first bar in Bangkok to reimagine Thai food in a glass, but typically the innovation never rises above adding lemongrass, chilli or kaffir limes to a drink with a dash of chilli to the rim. This menu, he says, is about creating the taste profile of the drink without losing the original flavour. Fresh produce is the key to perfecting the likeness and, on occasion, he’ll head to the nearby San Yan Market for ingredients like chilli and green curry paste.
The other seven cocktail ‘dishes’ were crafted after looking at a map of Thailand and identifying traditional dishes from each region. Chiang Mai’s popular mieng khum – a betel leaf wrap with roasted coconut, ginger, shallot and chili – is on the menu with a white rum twist, and includes a one-bite snack to compare the liquid version to the real thing.
Fiery southern cuisine is represented with kaeng tai pla, a spicy fish curry that is reimagined with mezcal, shallot and lime. The ubiquitous kaeng khiao whan (green curry) represents central Thailand and is packed with garlic, sweet coconut milk and topped with a small and round Thai eggplant as a garnish.
Drink names are intentionally left in Thai so that guests can learn the traditional names for these beloved dishes, but after a round or two of laab moo, the only Thai you might care to know is ‘one more, Pop!’
By Ashley Niedringhaus