On the cusp of rainy season, Bangkok is thick with humidity. I run down Soi Sukhumvit 11 past grilled pork carts and mango stands as the downpour begins, looking for Havana Social, a speakeasy conspicuously located next to a “Teléfono” sign on an empty alley. I take shelter in the doorway, guarded by a telephone booth—this is where you dial a secret code to gain entrance. I don’t have the code, so I bang on the door until they let me in.
Havana Social, a pre-revolutionary-themed, prohibition-styled bar, is one of many cocktail-focused speakeasies to open in Bangkok over the last two years. And despite the relative newness of the craft here, you can find phenomenal, surprising cocktails in all corners of the city.
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“People are starting to learn about cocktails—it’s something quite new,” says Wa, the general manager of the trendy Chinatown gin bar Teens of Thailand. “When we get together, we always go for dinner—that’s when we have a drink. But now cocktail culture is becoming bigger and bigger. People want to be unique about what they drink.”