Most Bangkokians don’t visit sky bars all that often, since those sky-high views usually come with notable price hikes and strict dress codes. Residents tend to hit them up for special occasions only: a friend in town, a birthday, a date, or just feeling fancy.
Of course, there are those times when you feel spontaneously fancy, but someone in your group will inevitably be wearing flip flops — meaning you’ll be denied entry to the majority of sky bars, anyway.
Aire Bar is aiming to change that. With no dress code and perched on the 28th floor of the new Hyatt Place hotel in Phrom Pong, on Sukhumvit Soi 24, this pretty, breezy bar aims to be more of a happy hour meet-up spot or regular hangout for friends, rather than a place you just think of booking on your birthday.
To reach this goal, they keep their prices low, limit their food menu to shareable snack foods, and have a daily buy-one, get-one free happy hour from 5-7pm, bringing their drinks down to THB130-140 (US$3.9-4.2) each, pretty rock bottom for anything but a total dive in Bangkok.
The bar features a sunny, tiled patio section with a garden feeling thanks to a trellis with hanging greenery that sits over the top. But it also features a wraparound bar, lots of indoor seating with pull away walls for those that want a breeze and a view without the sun, and a back bar, which features more traditional stools and is completely shaded.
We stopped by during a recent midweek sunset happy hour hour to try some of their drinks and snacks. From the special menu, we tried two signature drinks. The Suffering Bastard (THB280/US$8.4, but on buy-one, get-one at this hour) is presented like a Moscow Mule, in a metal mug. However, Aire’s bartenders have replaced rum with gin and bourbon, while keeping the ginger beer, lime, and bitters. It was a nice, smooth, and exceedingly mellow tasting drink, presented with a sprig of mint and a lime.
We also tried Passion is in the Aire (THB280/US$8.4, but also buy-one, get-one). Served in a slipper glass, this froth-topped drink is less sweet than expected, instead having a sour flavor profile provided by fresh passion fruit juice tempered with vodka, vermouth, and caramel and dressed with a charred orange slice.
Since we wanted to try more signature drinks, we switched things up with some choices that don’t appear on the happy hour menu.
The Pink Peppercorn Margarita (THB280/US$8.4) and North Star (THB280/US$8.4) fit the bill. The former, a decided departure from standard margaritas, is pleasingly pink and served in a rocks glass with a half-salted rim. This is probably the only margarita we’ve ever had that wasn’t overwhelmed by sour mix — instead, letting the quality of the Cimarron tequila shine through, backed up by agave, aperitivo Rinomato, orange, lime and, of course, pink peppercorns.
The latter arrived in a balloon glass and most resembled a traditional tropical cocktail to us. It was made up of Plantation rum, pineapple, lime, vanilla and pomegranate syrups, soda, and bitters.
Then, snacks. We heartily dug into a Vivin Mixed Platter (THB450/US$13.5) featuring domestic meats and cheeses by the well-known local producer. The cheese selections were a Chiang Mai Petit Blanc goat cheese and Mae Lao, hard Goat cheese from Chiang Rai. The pork sausage was tricked out with spicy chunks of Cambodian Kampot pepper, the roasted cashews were grown in Phuket, and in the small cup was local duck rillettes, a spread of shredded brined duck leg with fat and spices.
Joining it quickly was a plate of Yaki Gyoza Pork (THB180/US$5.4) tasty, deep-fried pork dumplings with a soy sauce dip that was pretty perfect for pairing with cocktails.
The next appetizer was our favorite, and one recommended to us by the staff. We never would have thought to order Bun Samosa (THB180/US$5.4) but now we can’t wait to go back to have it again.
It’s pretty much exactly how it sounds: a small samosa served in a slider bun. It sounds like a little too much starch, but the spiciness of the samosa filling paired with the sweetness of the bun separated by the hard shell of the samosa just works so well.
The bun slathered with mint chutney on one side and tamarind on the other didn’t hurt matters, either. It’s also deeply satisfying to crush the samosa in the bun with your hands before biting, a crucial step that staff informed us we must perform to fit the snacks in our mouths — it even makes a thrilling little cracking sound as you crush it.
Since we still had a tiny bit of room left, we decided to go for it and order the Spicy Grilled Shrimp (THB320/US$9.6). A large portion of fat shrimp turned up in a sauce with a hint of sweet as well as spice. It came with a side of corn-heavy, pico de gallo-style salsa and tortilla chips.
After this final dish was eaten and the sun’s last rays were gone, we decided it was time for us to go too, making a mental bookmark about the happy hour specials and thinking it was a good location with tasty drinks and attractive prices. Yup, we would be back — special occasion or not.
Hyatt Place Bangkok
22/5 Sukhumvit Soi 24, 28th floor
Open daily, 5pm-1am, Sundays 3pm-11pm
BTS Phrom Pong