BANGKOK — Ask for the right room inside a style-heavy boutique hotel in Ari to discover a hidden bar whose special cocktails retrace the globetrotting journey of one “Mr. Josh.”
Enter an already-hip neighborhood to find the devoutly hip Josh Hotel, which borrows liberally from the visual style of director Wes Anderson. Step inside and tell staff you’re checking into room No. 72. Key card in hand, pass through a vampy red door to find not a single bed nor well-furnished suite, but a bar called The Key.
The speakeasy, which opened in late August, lays out its concept to serve cocktails invented by fictitious hotel and bar owner Mr. Josh, a world traveler who’s settled in Bangkok. What he looks like is up to guests’ imagination. One hint is a cartoon depiction on a sign out front that’s reminiscent of young reporter Tintin.
The bar, painted in vibrant red (like the reception area and elevator in “The Grand Budapest Hotel”), offers a long list of alcoholic beverages such as negroni, long islands and sazerac. But what barflies must really try is one or more of nine signature cocktails.
A rough day can be pushed away with a sip on the spirit-forward Mr. Josh’s Journey (380 baht). After the bartender takes a torch to it, the blended malt whiskey is served with the fragrance of smoked rosemary and a wafer of caramelized brown sugar. Nibble on the latter from time to time for a break from the heavy, bitter booze.
Mr. Josh must’ve visited America sometime between 1950 to 1959 because one of his drinks is called Marilyn 1950s (380 baht). It’s vodka, lime juice, honey syrup and grapefruit bitters. Cinnamon poured on top is a good compliment. Compared to the “Journey,” Marilyn is much easier to drink – and sexier, too.
If none of above suit your fancy, pick your favorite destination:
A Drop of Tokyo (350 baht) mixes vodka with sake joined by wasabi syrup. The Communists (320 baht) blends whiskey with coffee and star anise, a well-known Asian herbal spice, and is served with dried coconut. Josh’s trip to France becomes Sweet as Josephine (380 baht) as he puts truffle oil, raspberry syrup and lime juice in cognac.
Off the menu but available to order, Roasted Coconut (380 baht) is carefully crafted by mixologist Danuwat Into, who won second place at a recent contest challenging them to use local ingredients. The very drink that brought him home the award, it’s a rum-based concoction with smoked coconut water and a pinch of aromatic floral tonic, garnished with a single piece of burnt dried coconut.
Music fans should come on Fridays and Saturdays for full-on jazz music. The space-limited, refurbished meeting room can accommodate up to 24.
The Key Room No. 72, is open 6pm to 2am every day inside Josh Hotel on Soi Ari 4 (North), a few minutes’ walk from BTS Ari.
Josh Hotel opened late last year with designs and decorations inspired by the visual style of American director Wes Anderson. The hotel attracts many visitors who check in for a getaway in Ari and, of course, snaps for their Instagram.