Prohibition-era chic with a callback to Shanghai-style cabaret clubs of the nineteenth century is Maggie Choo’s calling card, an original concept that distinguishes itself from its boozy neighbours in Bang Rak, including CRAFT, Tropic City, and Bamboo Bar. Hidden beneath Novotel Bangkok Silom Road, the otherworldly speakeasy is another of Ashley Sutton’s elaborate creations. Combined with adventurous negronis, Bangkok’s street favourites and its signature of Cheongsam-clad ladies swaying along to jazzy tunes from the live band, this eyecandy of a bar has all the makings of Bangkok’s IT hotspot (and has been, for many years).
The once-derelict bank built by the East India Company in 1847 has since been transformed into a grown-up playground dressed in leather chesterfields, jade-coloured velvets and, in its centre, an old-school casino cashier counter that doubles as its bar. Brick vaults, former homes to riches unbeknownst to current guests, are now secluded smoking rooms all fitted with the same lush furnishings. The final touch? Antiquated table lamps that – deliberately and – barely illuminates the cavernous venue, drawing focus to the steamy exoticism of the sultry performers come nine o’clock.
Begin your foray with their innovative takes on the classic negroni. Time After Time (THB320) is by far the best executed, with earthy yet minty notes of thyme punctuated by the sharp acidity in the grapefruit syrup. Follow with a pleasing blend of sesame oil fat-washed Evan Williams Bourbon, oliang (Thai coffee)-infused vermouth and orange bitters accentuated by a spritz of absinthe in the Red in Town (THB320) or the C.R. Road (THB320), where vanilla-like notes of pandan-infused vodka are complemented by hints of lychee and roses.
For something leaning closer to the classic profile, there’s the velvety L’amour De Choco (THB320) with homemade chocolate vermouth. The expert barmen can also stir up a mean Manhattan (THB340) or – more fitting of the venue – Vesper Martini (THB360).
The food doesn’t disappoint and are swoon-worthy enough to warrant a return visit. Chinese Noodles “Ruam Thep” (THB320) is, without question, the highlight. It may feel strange to slurp on a bowl of noodles in a dimly-lit cabaret but one bite is all the convincing you’ll need. Springy egg noodles tossed in sweet yet savoury sauce are made even more irresistible when topped liberally with three styles of pork – roasted, crispy belly and tender slices of char siew. The Stir-fried Noodles (THB310) is no less impressive and makes an equally worthy accompaniment to the plump Shrimp Dumplings (THB160).
But what’s a bar without some finger food? The kitchen also doles out a slew of foolproof bites such as Spinach & Mozzarella Spring Rolls (THB190) and Thai street favourites of Chicken Wings Wrapped in Pandan (THB210) and Sun-dried Beef Strips with Herbs (THB180).
While Maggie’ Choo’s opened in 2012, it remains one of the trendiest spots in town – and it’s easy to see why. This decadent outpost for debauchery draws guests in with its clever details, be it its intriguing menu or the bewitching entertainment. Whether you’re into craft cocktails, flavoursome fare that hits the heart or, simply, yearning an evening of revelry, it does the trick. TLDR; Bring friends and plan on a long night.
Maggie Choo’s is located at Novotel Bangkok Silom Road, 320 Silom Road, Suriyawong, Bangrak, Bangkok, 10500, Thailand, p. + 66 091 772 2144. Open Mon – Thu 7:30pm-2am and Fri – Sun 7:30pm-3am.
Top image: Classic Manhattan