Asia Today: Shophouse bar debuts new cocktails that’ll bring old-world Thai honey on to the hipster radar

Photos: Asia today (left), Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts (middle and right).

Asia Today, the weirdly-named shophouse bar off Soi Nana in Bangkok’s Old Town that shares a designer (and owners!) with hipster gin bar Teens of Thailand around the corner, has a new obsession — Thai honey.

Photo: Asia Today
Photo: Asia Today

The charming, dimly lit little spot launched as a rum bar 10 months ago, has a giant shark hanging from the ceiling, and a fluorescent sign claiming “This bar is better than Teens of Thailand.”

Photo: Asia Today
Photo: Asia Today

They’ve recently revamped their menu to reflect co-founder and drink creator Niks Anuman-Rajadhon’s obsession with Thai honey, and a new general direction towards featuring foraged and natural ingredients.

Photo: Asia Today
Photo: Asia Today

Often available in rural Thailand by the roadside and served up in unmarked, “upcycled” old Thai booze bottles, the honey of Thailand is cheap, delicious, and plentiful — if not particularly revered.

But Niks and his drinks may be about to change all that.

Of all the Thai ingredients that chefs and mixologists become obsessed with — kaffir lime, chili, green curry, or lemongrass — honey is one that has not yet been made hip, and then rendered passé, by legions of foodies through overuse. We’re looking at you, tom yum martini.

Niks told Coconuts that the bar is removing all supermarket ingredients from their menu. He said that the honey they are using comes directly from rural farmers, and that he has it delivered raw and picks it up at nearby Hua Lampong train station.

Photo: Asia Today
Photo: Asia Today

In the bar’s newly-opened upstairs area, guests can check out Niks’ honey library, featuring many rows of mysterious-looking honeys sourced from around the country.

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

After collecting their raw honey, the bar staff clean and filter it themselves, using what’s left after the filtering to make handcrafted beeswax mugs to serve drinks in.

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

We stopped by to try Niks’ new honey-based cocktails and were wowed with the creativity that went into them, as well as how he managed to make the sweet syrup non-cloying in his three new, thoroughly modern cocktails.

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

To go with the new honey theme, as you sit down, the staff presents a welcoming plate of potonko, a kind of doughnut, with a side of — you guessed it — Thai honey for dipping. While these are usually served with a condensed milk or pandan dipping sauce, the honey seems like a natural fit as well and warms up guests for the honeyed delights to come next.

We ordered the Wild Honey Tasters flight (THB900) which lets you try all three new honey drinks for THB60 cheaper than purchasing them separately. And each is worth trying and very different from the last.

The drinks on the menu are named after manga characters. We started with the lightest one: Sailor A, named after Sailor Moon. The festive-looking drink arrives in a stemmed glass with a large mint leaf and is made of honey from the giant honey bee, dry sherry, dry vermouth, fresh lime, tiger’s ear mint, orange, and cava. It’s as light and refreshing as one of the bar’s partner’s, Pornpatima Saekhow, promised us it would be.

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

Next up was Dora A, named after Doraemon. This drink is the showstopper of the three — served in a bright yellow, handmade beeswax mug that Niks makes himself. He said that each one takes hours to craft, and since they can’t be cleaned in a traditional way with soap, they need to be flash-boiled after each use.

Photo: Asia Today
Photo: Asia Today

As you lift the cup to your lips, you can smell a waxy, organic waft. Inside is a mix of honey from the Eastern Honey Bee, rum, lime, and honey-lime-vanilla foam. It goes down easy and the cup feels wonderful to hold — it’s cooling, but not icy, and doesn’t sweat like glass would.

Last of the trio was the Saiyan A, the strongest of the flight, named after Super Saiyan and served in a rocks glass over a single cube. The drink featured honey from a stingless bee, bourbon, rye, bitters, and coconut sugar. Over the top of the cube, toasted coconut was sprinkled artfully.

Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts
Photo: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts

“The thing about stingless bees is, they can still bite,” said Niks. That was true of this drink as well, which was the most potent of the three with the most wow factor in the flavor, the bourbon and rye still hinting at their strength beneath the smoothness of the honey.

After the third drink in the flight, we were pleasantly tipsy, and honey, it was time to move on.

Photo: Asia Today
Photo: Asia Today

Asia Today also has a menu of signature drinks that don’t contain honey, and with the opening of the upstairs area, you might be able to get a seat inside if you come after 9pm (when it’s usually pretty crowded).

 

FIND IT:

Asia Today
35 Maitri Chit Rd.
Open daily, 7pm-midnight (until 1am on weekends)
MRT Hua Lampong

 

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