Is it open?
“Is it open?” If I had a baht for every time I heard someone ask that when we pulled up in a taxi to Bangkok’s Bar 23, I’d have enough to kit the bar out with enough toilet paper to last the entire night.
Unless you’ve been there before, Bar 23 can be a little hard to find, halfway up Sukhumvit Soi 16 (right hand side). But once you’ve caught site of the glowing ‘23’ and pushed open the unnecessarily heavy door, you’ll understand why it has such a loyal following among locals and expats.
The bar itself is a large, cavernous space which may seem lacking in atmosphere if every effort hadn’t gone in to making it one of the coolest bars in the city; old cardboard sake packets, linen baskets, flags, mobiles and other seemingly random knick-knacks hang from the wall, pencil drawings of the staff adorn the walls, and crappy furniture that looks as though it’s been fished out from a skip displays an old television (not a cool vintage one, just an old rubbish one), toy cars and other paraphernalia.
The student vibe is completed with a DJ (who doubles as a barman), who spins indie rock all night. It’s almost impossible to go the whole evening without hearing a B-side or album track you’d long forgotten about. But rather than being too cool for school, the staff and clientele are welcoming and inclusive. The bar is a sociable place where you’ll often get chatting to someone at the bar or find yourself boogying with a new friend to a Blur track.
Even the toilets are a talking point. The bar is the proud owner of some of the city’s most inspiring toilet wisdom, such as ‘Jesus tits’. There’s barely an inch of the two unisex cubicles that hasn’t been drawn on by a deep-thinking drunkard.
The staff here deserves a special mention. Smiley and efficient, they make you feel like an instant regular and will often stop what they’re doing (if they’re not too busy) and come and have a chat or dance. However, on the weekends there’s no time for all that as the bar gets packed with drinkers (often including many of the Wong’s Place crowd who are gearing up for a 06:00 finish).
The drink de jour here seems to be a bottle of Sangsom paired with some mixers and a bucket of ice, however they also serve cocktails and beers; cocktails are around 200 baht, beers are 100 baht.
Our top 10 places to eat and drink around Sukhumvit