Cocktails on tap arrive in Bangkok, but will they be Talk of the Town?

Suwan “Tommy” Seelee, owner of Talk of the Town
Suwan “Tommy” Seelee, owner of Talk of the Town

The great Van Gogh. An elderly Thai couple harshly punished for picking wild mushrooms. A scandalous Kuala Lumpur spa serving cream cheese-filled kink. 

What’s the connection? They’re all paid tribute in a cocktail glass at Bangkok’s first bar serving cocktails on tap – at least in theory, but more on that later.

While many head to W District for its outdoor food court, it’s now home to new bar taking its own approach to devising drinks. Instead of bottles filling bar shelves, a dozen gleaming gas-fed taps pour nitrous- and carbon dioxide-charged cocktails.

Opened a few months ago, Talk of the Town introduced Bangkok drinkers to a concept of “cocktails on tap,” a bar trend sweeping cities around the world, such as at Taipei’s Draft Land. The concept is two-fold: drinks guaranteed to be precisely mixed every time and less time waiting for orders.

But here again do Thailand’s archaic alcohol laws, which safeguard monopoly and stifle innovation, put up barriers. Any “pre-mixing” of alcoholic drinks is verboten, so that means it would be illegal for the taps to dispense the final product. That means bartenders must add the alcohol after the everything-but blend froths forth from the tap.

So what’s the point then? Bar owner-manager Suwan “Tommy” Seelee, said the implementation is “playful” and still means a more efficient and consistent product, plus speedier service.

Ramping up the playfulness, Tommy, who also runs the adjacent Cielo Sky Bar & Restaurant, built the menu’s story around news stories headlines and pop-culture figures. 

Inspired by a story some years ago about Malaysian masseuses licking cream cheese off their clients’ bodies; Tommy came up with Cheese Spa (THB320). It manages to pull off crispy baked parmesan cheese mixed with rum, mangosteen, butterfly pea flower and fermented Thai rice. 

Cheese Spa (THB320)
Cheese Spa (THB320)

Another signature is refreshing, fizzy crowd-pleaser Talk of Spritz, a champagne glass of London Dry Gin, Rosé Limoncello and Peychaud’s Bitters. The glass is THB270.

Cherishing the height of his tournament days back in 2008, Tommy recreates the drink that won third place at a Bacardi competition held in Turin, Italy. Turin Success is comprised of Bacardi Gold Rum, Chambord Liqueur, Red Bull, lychee shrub, cranberry juice, lime cordial and is priced at THB270.

Turin Success (THB270)
Turin Success (THB270)

More drinks on the offer are Van Gogh’s painting-inspired Almond Blossoms (Bacardi White Rum, passion fruit liqueur, lemon absinth, green tea syrup and chocolate bitters for THB320) and Uncle Mushroom (Pepe Lopez Tequila, champignon mushroom, clarified tomato, lime cordial, orange bitters and ginger beer for THB270.) The latter draws inspirations from a 2013 viral shocker about a middle-aged married couple in Kalasin province sentenced to 15 years in prison for plucking a few mushrooms from a protected forest.

The cocktail menu list will rotate, Tommy said, like talk-of-the-town news that changes over time. 

Adopting the eco-vogue global trend, the bar aims at a zero-waste concept. In the back of the bar, there is a tiny kitchen where typically neglected and discarded ingredients are dried and turned into edible garnishes. 

Talk of the Town is inside the W District community mall, located between sois Sukhumvit 69 and 71. It can be reached by foot from BTS Phra Khanong. 

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