100 Years Later, The Revival of Speakeasies And All They Stand For
The time was 1919, and the Volstead Act was ratified by the United States on January 16, 1919. Known more famously as Prohibition, one year and one day later on January 17, 1920, it was illegal to sell, consume and transport alcohol in America. A hundred years later and pop-culture trends of the entire world can be traced all the way back to a small bar in Manhatten, New York, known as The 21 Club. Jazz, coolness, questionable activity and fashion were born from a suppressed community known as the flappers and gangsters. It was a time to live and a time to be influenced by silver screens, the best customer service money could buy, and the creation of 98 per cent of all the cocktails we take for granted today.
Now in 2020 as a full century has passed and from the hidden and most sacred streets of Bangkok, live the few and the fray that fight to keep this 100-year-old tradition alive through expression, spirit, passion and imagination, delivering to you a little slice of nostalgia. Here are just three of our favourite speakeasies in the city.
1/3 Rabbit Hole
Located in the hustle and bustle of Soi Thonglor but hidden in plain sight is this spectacular bar fronted by an unassuming, pale, wooden door. Bartenders greet you as you cross the threshold of urban drab and enter into a three-story world of glitz and glamour, authentic of 1920s influence. Rabbit Hole is a very cosy place. Here, you are made to feel completely encompassed by the unique design and music to drown out your troubles as you contemplate your first cocktail. Instagram-inspired and delicious creations await the earnest of enthusiasts and will have the local or the distant traveller alike ordering again and again.
125 Sukhumvit Soi 55
Open daily 7pm-2am
Born from the depths of Thonglor many years ago, Vagabond is a Japanese-influenced masterpiece that hides distinctly in Ekkamai Soi 1. A beautiful and fully restored bungalow from post-war Thailand, this bar has been hand-built and hand-stocked by one of the most talented bartenders to come out of Japan. A long, dark oak polished bar greets you as you enter down the stairs into a picturesque and completely jaw-dropping multi-level wonderland. Furnished with leather and stocked floor-to-ceiling with bottles both old and new, this eclectic and stunning speakeasy plays host to some of the most famous celebrities and business people from around the globe. A favourite of the Japanese expat resident, Vagabond is your choice if you want to sit back, enjoy a cigar and listen to Frank as you sip on your very own and personally designed cocktail, recommended to you by one of the best in the biz.
The Bar Vagabond
69/1 Ekkamai 1 Alley
Open Monday-Saturday 6pm-3am
3/3 Black Amber Social Club
Black Amber is certainly the most famous amongst the speakeasy genre. Located at the end of Thonglor Soi 6 is an unassuming, white, multi-story house. Upon entering you immediately step back in time. From the marble flooring and the brass and glass, to the warm oak tones and a vintage aroma of fresh leather, hot steamed towels, and aged whiskey, not an ounce of detail has been missed. The reception desk awaits every arrival with a warm greeting, completed by your own private host who ensures you have everything you need. Black Amber also offers a full-service barber, including wet shave and soft massage, to its guests in addition to a fully tailored and mesmerising cocktail menu. The professional bartenders are uniquely dressed in white barber coats and boater hats. Soft jazz circulates in the background, filling the air while you wait for the nightly live jazz bands to arrive. So light up a cigar, sip your favourite cocktail and be completely taken care of by the most creative, generous and heart-warming staff that you may ever have the pleasure of experiencing.
Black Amber Social Club
End of Thonglor Soi 6, Sukhumvit Soi 55
Related: Singapore's Jigger & Pony Is Asia's No. 1 Bar In 2020