Thai beer is generally more miss than hit, so the next time you're out on the town, why not drink like the Thais do and ordera bottle of whisky?
Your first step is to choose a brand. For a particularly decadent night out, the industry standard is a bottle of bltiek (Johnnie Walker Black Label). Those on a budget can go for the cheaper imported labels such as Red Label or Benmore, and a rock-bottom, but fun, night can be had on domestic spirits such as 100 Pipers or Sang Som. And it's not unusual to bring your own bottle to many Thai bars, although some might charge a modest corkage fee.
As any Thai can tell you, your next immediate concern is mixers. These will take the form of several bottles of soda water and a bottle or two of Coke, along with a pail of ice. Most waiters will bring these to you as a matter of course.
Mixing is the easiest step and requires little or no action on your part; your skilled waiter will fill your glass with ice, followed by a shot of whisky, a splash of soda, a top -ff of Coke and, finally, a swirl with the ice tongs to bring it all together.
If you can't finish your bottle, shame on you, but don't fret, as it's perfectly normal to keep it at the bar. Simply tell your trusted waiter, who will write your name and the date on the bottle and keep it for your next visit.
2nd-floor alcove, Saxophone's intimate space draws the crowd into the laps of great jazz and blues musicians. The music changes each night - jazz during the week; rock, blues and beyond on weekends. Reg-gae-fusion worships define Sunday nights.
TAWAN DAENG GERMAN BREWHOUSE Map pp124-5 Beer Hall/Pub 0 0 26781114; www.tawandaeng1999.com; 462/61 Th Narathiwat Ratchanakharin (cnrTh Phra Ram III), Greater Bangkok; S 5pm-midnight; access by taxi
Despite its hangar-like girth, this Thai version of a Bavarian beer hall manages to pack 'em in just about every night. The Thai-German food is tasty, the house-made brews more than potable, and the nightly stage shows make singing along a necessity. Most people come for the Wednesday performance of Fong Nam (see p32). Music starts at 8.30pm.
THREE SIXTY Map pp108-9 Bar
0 0 2442 2000; 32nd fl. Millennium Hilton, 123 Th Charoen Nakorn,Thonburi; S5pm-1am; 1, Tha Sathon
Feeling frustrated with Bangkok? A set or two of live jazz in this elegant glass-encased perch 32 floors above the city will help you forget some of your troubles, or at the very least, give you a whole new perspective on the city.
TOKYO JOE'S Map pp118-19 Bar
0 0 2259 6268; www.tokyojoesbkk.com; 25/9 Soi 26, Th Sukhumvit; S 5pm-1am; ® Phrom Phong
Recently relocated to something of a residential district - what do the neighbours think of the noise? Despite the move, the bar's die-hard regulars still file in to witness a revolving cast of jazz, blues and rock. To see what the place is really about, come on Sunday evening, when the infamous Joe's World Famous Blues Jam kicks off at 9.30.
WINKS Map pp124-5 Pub
0 0 2939 5684; cnrSoi37,Th Phahonyothin, Greater Bangkok; S7pm-1am; (0) air-con 512 & 524, ordinary 24,26,28
Starting to wonder where the Thai people actually hang out? Join wannabe musicians, Kasetsart University students, the odd dara (star) and any others who can't be bothered with the Sukhumvit scene at this fun local boozer. The live bands aren't quite as good as they are loud, but after a couple ofdrinks and some new friends, you'll wish you could take the bar home with you.
WITCH'S TAVERN Map pp118-19 Pub
0 0 2391 9791; 306/1 Soi 55 (Thong Lor), Th Sukhumvit; S6pm-1am; (8) Thong Lor
This spacious joint claims to be an English pub, but it's closer to a hotel lobby geared toward down-to-earth Thai professionals. Jazz and folk bands start up around 8.30pm, and at 10.30pm the house cover band takes to the stage, accepting requests from the audience. Ballads get the biggest round of applause.
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