Locally-inspired bar bites, Thai spirits, and a whole lot of catitude.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
A cheeky reference to an event in a T.S. Elliott poem that gathered the literary Jellicle Cats together, The Bangkok Jellicle Ball was, aptly, a sleek affair that had an air of the fantastical about it. Hosted by the Sindhorn Midtown Hotel Bangkok, which had recently joined the IHG Hotels & Resorts group, the event celebrated the opening of their feline-inspired whiskey bar, The Black Cat. An after-dark haunt, and the first of a series of new F&B offerings in the hotel, The Black Cat aims to draw in sophisticated urbanites and the city’s ‘cool cats’ looking for an after-work tipple, a pre-club hangout, or late-night bar bites, with a focus on local spirits and popular Thai fare.
When entering the luxe space, the first thing that strikes you is the moody atmosphere carefully crafted by the dark marble flooring, black velvet seating, floor-to-ceiling windows, and burnished gold panelling which plays off the lofty ceiling and mischievous, cat-inspired artwork hung on the upswept pillars. On the windows is an outsized feline outline, visible only after the sun sets; appropriate for the bar’s nocturnal clientele and namesake. To add to the ambience, a singer crooned sultry tunes to talented accompaniment, while feline performers in cat suits sensuously stalked around the room, refusing to break character all night, to the masked guests’ delight and to much appaws.
A celebration of the eponymous animal, mystical and misrepresented in most cultures, yet an omen of good luck in this part of the world, The Black Cat’s drinks selection is named after auspicious Thai cats, from the quintessentially Thai Siamese, to the khao manee cat with its single, glittering blue eye. Curated by JedsadaTanariyachai (Khun Zen), a self-described whiskey aficionado who is a veteran of many of the city’s finest bars, the extensive cocktail menu also features a range of mocktails, cheekily dubbed the ‘Imaginary Cat’ selection. We were greeted with a welcome cocktail in the form of the Garfield, a concoction comprised of orange juice, lime juice, grapefruit syrup, and soda water, which was a refreshing and effervescent introduction to the event. I would recommend pairing it with the Deep-fried shrimp balls, as the drink’s citrus notes bring out the dish’s subtler spices.
The bar’s signature pour, The Black Cat or the korn ja, was my favourite libation of the night, made from ‘The Spirit of Thailand,’ the local Mekhong golden spirit, as well as house-made ginger cola syrup, soda water, ginger slices, and star anise for herbaceous flavours that pack a punch. Edible gold glitter adds a magical touch to a drink named after the archetypal witch’s familiar, complemented by a selection of moreish and spiced Deep-fried e-san sausages; Spicy & sour pork salad for those looking for more zaap flavours; and a personal recommendation, the Yum pla salmon made of finely-sliced sashimi and elevated by the freshness of its chilli and lime seasoning, for those who enjoy that extra kick.
A drink that is not for the faint-hearted, the Copper, named after the copper-haired supalak (literally ‘good featured’) cat, is made with a deliciously deadly combination of SangSom, Campari, and Mancino Bianco vermouth, with a piquant punch in the form of passion fruit and mango to cut through the intense flavours. For those looking for something sweeter, however, I’d recommend ordering The Diamond, named after the snow-haired khao manee cat with one blue and one amber eye, which is comprised of Saneha, pineapple juice, and honey syrup. Used in rainmaking rituals, the cat might not make it rain but one sip of the drink will certainly make you feel decadent. Other highlights of the menu included their Spicy glass noodles salad with minced pork, a classic snack that was served inside a leaf package, and their Wagyu beef skewers, oven-dried and dusted with coriander seeds for those looking for an extra-luxe experience.
Open from 2pm to midnight, this latest watering hole is a great addition to Bangkok’s cocktail scene, especially for those looking to get their whiskers wet in a place with a distinct pursonality.