69, 71 So Yi Sip Song Karakadakhom, Bangkok
The bar calls itself "hidden" and it is. Tep Bar is down an unassuming alley in an up-and-coming "hipster" area of Bangkok. The bar itself is nestled in an old shophouse. There are no signs, so you have to use your ears and follow the sound of chatter and music.
The vibe: Tep is known for serving up the traditional taste of Thailand, which it does through its ambience, food and alcohol. We went on a Friday night and it felt effortlessly cool. There were many locals and few tourists in the intimate bar. It's lit mostly by candlelight and surrounded by exposed concrete and brick walls. Behind me, chefs were cooking on an open woodfire and making Kao Kreab Wow, a traditional giant rice cracker that is served with sweet-spicy paste. From 8pm we were treated to a live band playing with traditional Thai instruments.
The chat: The staff know their stuff and have good drinks knowledge. They advised us about the traditional Thai herbal liquor on the menu and let us try the signature three-shots set. The waiter talked us through their nicknames and the supposed effects of the liquor - "Seven Eleven" keeps you energised, "Lion King" gives you courage and "Pussy Whipped" is described as a Viagra for women.
Plenty of choice from the Thai herbal liquor, to local rice wines and cocktails. I had the "Songkran" cocktail which involved passionfruit, lime, mint, syrup and Thai liquor and cost 280 Baht ($14). There is also a hearty food menu with plenty of options of traditional Thai cuisine and dishes are beautifully presented.
The expectation: I had high expectations of the cocktail because of the knowledgeable staff and cool interior of the bar.
The reality: The drink was delicious and not too sweet and I liked the use of Thai ingredients. The bar began to feel slightly cramped as it got busier but it was a Friday night. Tep Bar is a must-stop in Bangkok for an authentic Thai experience.