BANGKOK — Choice craft spirits now come with a scoop in a place that isn’t dark and full of wood.
Grab a table or just lounge on cushions with a stuffed animal for bourbon, gin, rum, vodka, whiskey and more poured over scoops of fine ice cream at Ryn Cafe, a place inspired by lost childhoods that opened Thursday on the ground floor of a photography studio.
The couple behind it – beauty blogger Iryn Vongvachjira and craft liquor geek Tarin Chiarakul – want to promote craft sensibilities about booze – but without all the serious.
“In Thailand, the only thing people know is lao,” Iryn said, referring to the one-size-fits-all word to describe all liquor. She wants to introduce the wider world of spirits to Thai drinkers.
Tarin wants that too, but as he said time and again at an evening preview event, he really likes to drink.
Colorful cards are printed with photos of colorful scoops of ice cream made at a friend’s plant. To come up with those paired with liquor, the couple experimented with different conventional and unconventional choices. This meant getting drunk a lot.
“I like to drink,” said Tarin, whose full-time hustle is with Bootleggers Trading Co., the source of their spirits.
The cafe calls itself a speakeasy, but that doesn’t really square with its twinkling, cutesy look or location. Iryn said it would be impossible for passers-by to know its boozy, ice cream secret.
The space, located on Soi Sukhumvit 34 just a few doors from Bottles of Beer, had been used as a place to hang out with friends and drink (which Tarin likes to do) downstairs from a photo studio.
Among several pairings proposed by booze experts, the cafe settled on 10 offerings: five flavors of ice cream that come paired with alcohol and five flavors already infused.
A Thursday evening press preview started with a plain coupling of fresh milk ice cream and rum called Snow White Raised a Cow (150 baht).
More dollops with names inspired by cartoon characters follow. They include Dalmatian Choc (white choc flavor with brownies and bourbon), Winnie’s Gone Sour (honey lemon ice cream and gin) and Ariel’s Sweet Temptation (bourbon-charged salted caramel ice cream).
The Thai palette is not forgotten. Khan Kluay Mao Vodka (220 baht) is there for grassy, creamy coconut and pandan flavors. The light green-colored scoop is already infused with light lemongrass vodka.
Don’t like their pairings or feel like experimenting? Match an ice cream of choice with a booze list that includes several types of rum, whiskey, gin, tequila, mezcal, cognac, sparking wine, tonic and premium alcoholic iced tea. They are available in shots, on the rocks and mixed.
Don’t be fooled by the creamy sweet and sour tastes, this is not the ice cream experience of your childhood. We’re talking about high-proof alcohol in some scoops that can surprise you when it’s time to stand up again.
While it’s not the first Bangkok joint to mix ice cream and liquor, the cafe’s whimsy is a different experience than the masculine, late-steampunk interior of Hazel’s Ice Cream Parlor and Fine Drinks that opened last year across town.
Sitting and chatting with friends over drunken scoops gives a giddy gut feeling. But is it a novelty that won’t see many returns? Iryn said they plan to rotate in and out new options to keep the menu fresh.
With increasingly alcohol-hostile regulators, does the combination risk legal heat? No. The cafe is fully licensed and approved by alcohol control officers and its offerings are legal under the 2008 Alcohol Control Act.
“Swensen’s has rum raisin. They serve alcohol in ice cream,” Tarin said. “Why can’t we?”
Ryn Studio and Cafe is open 6pm to midnight Monday through Saturday. Find it in Soi Sukhumvit 34. It can be reached from BTS Thong Lo’s exit No. 2.