I’ve been eager to gather these recipes for the best Asian inspired cocktails in Bangkok for some time. Aside from martinis before dinner we are wine drinkers. We will always order a bottle of wine with dinner or glasses of matching wines if it’s a degustation menu. Except when we’re in Asia.
Because nobody makes cocktails like Asians bartenders and Bangkok’s bartenders make the most delicious cocktails of all, using quintessentially local ingredients like lemongrass, lychee, ginger, and even galangal, in their cocktails.
Ironically, the most interesting cocktails aren’t found in bars at all in Bangkok. Most of the bars are sticking to the classics at the moment: Tom Collins, Mai Tais, Brandy Alexanders, Singapore Slings…yawn. It’s the restaurants that are offering up some of the tastiest cocktails, and some of them, like Jarrett Wrisley’s Soul Food are going as far as to offer weekly or even daily cocktail cocktail specials alongside special dishes. Now that’s impressive.
Some of the cocktails are inspired by Thai dishes, which is why Thailand is probably one of the few places in the world where we’d sip a cocktail with our meal. Try any one of the drinks below with a spicy Asian dish and you’ll understand what we mean. They go brilliantly together. Don’t agree? Let us know.
So what have we got for you below? Well, we asked our favourite Bangkok restaurant owners and chefs to share the recipes for our favourite cocktails, so we could share them with you. Do try these at home, and do tell us what you think. Better yet, share a pic of your drink here in the Comments, on Twitter @gran_tourismo, or on your own blog post. And when we meet you in person, we’ll buy you a drink.
Cocktail: Soul Punch
Home: Soul Food
Creators: Markus Bernthaler and owner Jarrett Wrisely, who explains how it came about: “Marcus is a great bartender – I gave him a framework of ingredients and alcohols to work with and we went from there. This was certainly the most fun part of the restaurant’s pre-opening period – drinking lots, and lots, and then a few more cocktails.”
Taste: “It’s fruity and light, and that belies the fact that it’s a pretty strong drink,” says Jarrett.
Inspiration: “I wanted to make a cocktail with Sangsom, Thailand’s workaday alcohol (it’s basically rum) that didn’t explicitly taste like Sangsom.”
Recipe: 6cl Sangsom (dark rum would substitute nicely), 2 cl fresh lime juice, 1cl amaretto Di Sarrono, 4cl guava juice (the one we use is sweetened a bit), 1.5 cl Monin brand passionfruit syrup. Combine all ingredients in a two-piece cocktail shaker with ice, shake vigorously, and strain in a highball glass over ice.
Cocktail: Ginger Martini
Creator: Chaliya Thongdee (Bim), bo.lan’s restaurant manager.
Taste: Fresh, “gingerry”, and strong on alcohol – “perfect for hot Bangkok days”, says Bim.
Inspiration: “Being Thai I believe that what we consume has medicinal properties,” Bim explains, “Ginger is a very powerful component in many medicinal senses, so by creating this cocktail I feel less guilty, and when drinking it I am inclined to partake in a glass or two more. After all, it has things that are good for me. Also, by serving it on ice it’s perfect for the weather here and the drink remains refreshingly cold whilst I’m sipping away.”
Recipe: ½ shot sugar syrup, ½ shot lime juice, ½ shot cointreau, 2 shots ginger-infused vodka (the ginger needs to macerate in the vodka for at least one week for it to take on the ginger properties), a few pieces of lime zest. Mix all the ingredients together, shake, and then pour over ice.
Cocktail: Mango on the Rocks
Creators: Chef Gaggan Anand and his mixoligist ‘Mon’, in the Gaggan lab.
Taste: Gaggan says “It’s pure mango flavours, an edible cocktail that almost tastes like an ice-cream; very tropical and fruity. Most importantly it’s so visual, like a cocktail from an alchemist.”
Inspiration: “Simple,” says Gaggan, “For Thais and Indians mango tops the chart, and local the produce is so good here, I can’t neglect it.”
Step 1: mix 30 ml Bacardi Rum, 60 ml fresh mango pulp, 30 ml fresh cream, 30 ml Dark Rum, juice of ½ freshly squeezed lime together with a hand blender to make a nice creamy base.
Step 2: you’ll need an ISI cream whipper, 1 siphon charge and 1 litre of liquid nitrogen. Pour the base cocktail into the siphon whipper, preferably ½ pint size, and pressurize with one cream charger. Shake well and spray over a liquid nitrogen bath. As the nitrogen evaporates it will flash freeze the cream into frozen porous rocks; carefully remove and fill a beer pilsner glass with them until ¾ full.
Step 3: Garnish the frozen rocks with fresh anise leaves, 5 grams of freeze dried mango and 45ml of mango juice. Finish the drink in front of the guest by pouring mango juice on top. “This completes the visual of mango on its own rocks!” Gaggan explains. “And it definitely has to be served with a long spoon.”
Cocktail: China House Sky
Home: The China House, Mandarin Oriental
Creator: Khun Sompong Boosri, the Oriental’s head barman from 1976 until he retired in 2009. The cocktail is now dedicated to him.
Taste: It’s fruity and sweet, with lychee as its main ingredient. It’s a gorgeous purple cocktail, served in a chilled martini glass.
Inspiration: Created as the restaurant’s signature cocktail it was inspired by the decadence and opulence of the Shanghai during the 1930s Art Deco period.
Recipe: Place 1 oz Vodka, ¾ oz Blue Curacao, ½ oz Lychee liqueur, ¼ oz Malibu, 1 ½ oz Lychee juice, 1 oz sweet and sour lemon juice, ½ oz Grenadine syrup, and ice cubes into a cocktail shaker and shake well. Pour through a strainer into a martini glass and garnish with a lychee and red cherry.
Cocktail: Pomelo Doble
Home: Hyde & Seek
Creators: The Flow team of mixologists (and owners of Hyde and Seek) Ben-David Sorum, Dannie Sorum, Thomas Anostam, Nonthiwat Prabhananda, and Chanond Purananda.
Taste: A distinctly Asian daiquiri.
Inspiration: The classic Hemingway Daiquiri and local ingredients.
Recipe: Mix 1 wedge fresh sweet pomelo, 30 ml white rum, 25 ml vodka, 5 ml Maraschino liqueur, and 15 ml fresh lime. Dip the rim of an old fashioned glass in a little water so it’s moist then dip into a spice mix of sugar, salt and chilli AKA Prik Gloa, add ice, and pour the liquid in.
The Siam Sunray
I first tried a Siam Sunray at the bar at D’Sens restaurant at the Dusit Thani hotel (and went to cocktail heaven!), and then I tried a slightly different but equally sublime version of it and Hyde and Seek. There’s a short history to this drink: the creation of a Siam Sunray cocktail was an initiative of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, which held a competition for Thailand’s best bartenders to create a Thai version of the Singapore Sling, hence the slightly different versions of the drink. I loved them both, so I asked for both recipes. Let us know which one you like.
Cocktail: Siam Sunray
Home: Hyde and Seek
Creators: the Flow mixologist team (see above).
Taste: Like a potent cold glass of tom yam soup.
Inspiration: “Truly Thai flavours” and their own ‘Thailander’ cocktail, which they originally created in 2004 and refined over a few years.
Recipe: Combine 40 ml Smirnoff vodka infused with “tom yam” spices (e.g. Kaffir lime leaf, ginger, lemon grass, coriander, and chilli), 20 ml coconut liqueur, 10 ml fresh lime, and 90 ml lemon lime soda. Serve over ice in a tall glass and garnish with a chilli and Kaffir lime leaf.
Cocktail: Siam Sunray
Home: D’Sens, Dusit Thani Hotel
Creator: Bartender Khun Surasak who has been with the hotel for six years and won the competition in 2008.
Taste: According to Khun Surasak: “a freshness from the sparkling soda, sourness and sweetness in the flavours, with a little bit of spice – making it the best cocktail for summer.”
Inspiration: “The Thainess of the Dusit Thani and the dish, tom yum,” according to Khun Surasak, who said, “Thai people like eating food that is sweet, sour and spicy, so I wanted drinkers to feel the taste of Thailand when drinking his cocktail.”
Recipe: 40 ml Vodka, 15 ml Coconut Rum, 30 ml soda, 1 Kaffir lime leaf, 3 pieces of lemongrass, 5 pieces of lime, 2 slices of ginger. Blend it all together and pour into a tall glass and garnish.