Story by Pravit Rojanaphruk, with photos by Tappanai Boonbandit. All photos featured in this article depict non-alcohol beverages, in compliance with Thai laws.
Now the bar is back, and in our recent visit we discovered that it’s a place where Thailand’s superstition is proudly on display.
Poompat, who owns Bar Taewada, or “Angel’s Bar” in Thai, is open about his belief. The 6 meter-tall wall of the bar is filled with traditional Thai mural painting of the Himalaya mountains where many ancient Thais believe to be the abode of deities.
“I believe in what we cannot see. I invited sacred spirits to dwell here and asked for their blessings,” Poompat said. “Many years ago I ran into troubles with my career. Then I prayed to Thao Vejsuwan, the deity who grants wealth and ruler of the first celestial realm of the Himalayan forest.”
Since then, Poompat said, he has become more successful. Thao Vejsuwan, or Vaisaravana, is a half brother to the demon king in the epic Ramakien, a Thai interpretation of the Indian Ramayana. Visitors can find a gilded Khon mask depicting Thao Vejsuwan at the very top of the booze cabinet in Poompat’s bar.
All the five signature drinks served here are also inspired by Thai and Hindu myths. Poompat and his mixologists even dressed up like the taewada, angels imagined by ancient Thais. His seeming irreverence caused a bit of a controversy on social media, but Poompat waved the criticism away with his cocktail shaker.
“We don’t put Buddha statues here. Only deva,” Poompat said, using a Pali word for divine entities. “Devas are higher beings but not yet enlightened. They still drink alcohol or become amorous. Devas pray, but are not yet enlightened. They still have cravings.”
“I also believe those who drink are not bad people,” he said.
The bar is tucked inside a building called Liberty Plaza on Thong Lor. You won’t see a sign advertising it, only a traditional wooden door, as if entering a Buddhist chapel or wooden Thai house.
Once you entered the bar, you’d be greeted with an alternate reality of Hindu-Buddhist cosmology, and a variety of booze. Priced from 320 to 350 baht, they carry names that invoke celestial and mythical figures.
Manee Mekhala, at 320 baht, is a sweetish cocktail made from crafted pandanus rum, jasmine sweet vermouth, pomelo juice, monin orgeat syrup, freshly squeezed lime topped by cinnamon smoke bubbles. It’s too sweet for the reviewer’s taste, but Poompat insists women like it. The bubble that you have to burst is also quite a treat.
Another recommended cocktail is Rattana Naga, based on Mekhong rum, pampelle ruby apero and sparkling mango sangria. It has just enough acidity and sweetness.
Poompat’s colleague prepared the cocktail that comes with a paint of honey and black sesame wrapping around the tall, inverted conical glass. It reminds one of naga, the mythical giant serpent worshipped by Thais.
Wimarn Kinnaree, or the abode of mythical female half-bird, half human creatures, are made from calvados apple brandy, pandanus liqueur, guava juice, Yuzu and apple cider. It has the hint of Cosmopolitans, though this one is yellow, there’s no vodka, and Yuzu replaces the cranberry juice.
This house cocktail is also served on a bird-shaped glass to remind us of the kinnaree, complete with a wooden tray filled with pebbles, water and little plastic bush reminiscent of the mysterious Himalayan Forest in Thai mythology.
If there’s nothing in the menu that charms you, Poompat said customers can just request him to create a unique cocktail just for them. All one needs to do is to state the preferred alcohol base, and make a vague preference to the desired taste.
The bar may have been opened for just two weeks, but Poompat and his colleagues are veterans in the trade. The bar owner has been in the business since he was 19. Two decades later, he has realized his dream of opening a bar of his own under this unique Thai concept.
“Like a taewada, I will then cook up the magic especially for the customer,” he said in his angelic costume.
Bar Taewada (or Angel Bar on Facebook) is located on the first floor of Liberty Plaza, Soi Thonglor, Bangkok. It’s open from 6pm to midnight every night except Sunday. Call 095-562-3694 for details. This review is unsponsored and based on a hosted visit.