Eating/Drinking  •  Cocktail Napkin Review

Cocktail Napkin Review: #Findthelockerroom

#Findthelockerroom is the latest bar buzz in Thong Lor: the hidden, no-name cocktail bar backed by some of the biggest names in Asia’s bar scene.

Story by
July 27, 2017
First on the agenda for your visit to this soon-to-be-famous cocktail bar is finding it. After arriving at Arena 10, you’ll likely take a lap around the complex before locating the very secret entrance, as the lack of name makes it hard to ask for its location. Tucked in between two glass-enclosed kitchens, you’re in for a surprise: a cramped room full of high school-style lockers that are already accumulating a fair collection of stickers. But which one to try? Do you need a combination? Maybe this isn’t a bar but the employee locker room for the kitchen next door!

The brainchild of four owners, Hidetsugu Ueno of Bar High Five in Tokyo, Colin Chia from Nutmeg & Clove in Singapore, Nick Wu of East End in Taipei, and Ronnaporn “Neung” Kanivichaporn of Backstage Bar here in Bangkok, #findthelockerroom is the current launch campaign while the venue is “just a bar,” according to Colin. Once the drinks start flowing, you may disagree with this humble assessment.

Given the talent of the founders, one should expect nothing less than simplicity from the cocktail program? Really? Wait. We expected something more! Have no fear; while Colin says that they wanted to “keep it simple” and “stick to the classics,” there are twists and mind-blowing interpretations in their “past, present, and future” cocktail concept featuring three iterations of a number of classic cocktails, all of which are bound in a black menu book explaining the history of each drink and both a diagram and description of each variation.

Bloody Mary of the past by Hidetsugu Ueno

While less interpretive than its “present” and “future” versions, the Bloody Mary of the past by Hidetsugu Ueno is still not your grandfather’s breakfast beverage, although it features all of the elements of the classic cocktail. This version is more suitable for nocturnal consumption, its incorporation of lemon and freshly-made tomato juice (made to order, we believe) offers a lighter version of the drink with a great balance of sweet, citrusy, spicy, and salty that can be consumed sans straw in a matter of seconds.

The Harakiri
, however, is the best reinvention of a bloody mary since the Shogun Mary, St. Regis Osaka, including umeshu, green tea syrup, and tequila with a sour plum sugar rim: a very creative spin with, for some reason, a slight hint of chocolate(!) that otherwise remained true to the flavor profile of the classic cocktail.

Upping the ante, the Bloodless Maria utilizes clarified tomato vermouth and mescal to offer a silky and smoky martini-esque cocktail with a spiced miso paste and shiso leaf rim that collectively honors the bloody mary in a bizarro universe called “A bar with no name hidden inside a locker room created by Neung Kanivichaporn and his troupe of pan-Asian master mixologists.”

Bloodless Maria

The French Connection cocktail trilogy is reminiscent of the stages of growing up: childhood, teenage experimentation, and adulthood (each within glassware appropriate to its progression). The classic is like an alcoholic candy: sweet and simple inside its shiny wrapper.

The next, Smoking Connection, is like the first time you got tipsy and tried your first cigarette (in this case smoked earl grey tea leaves), a more complex cocktail encased in a slightly more subtle glass.

The third, Nuts over Michelin, features foie gras fat-washed cognac and an almond and black sesame syrup in a liquid dessert that would be suitably served after a fancy dress banquet or a pre-Broadway dinner prix fixe.

The decor sticks to Colin’s “keep it simple” promise, with a mere ten leather barbershop stools (their heights are adjustable!) lined up along the stainless steel bar and six four-seater tables dispersed around the brushed-concrete box. As we enjoyed several rounds of drinks, we couldn’t help notice that the area behind the bar was arguably larger than the floor space in front of it and was slightly more illuminated too.

For the clientele, the decor is dim lighting and Banksy prints; intentionally or not, the glitter and glam lies behind the bar, where staff in stylish bar coats are surrounded by a glistening array of fine spirits and fresh ingredients. Considering the heavy curtains that separate the main barroom from a small extension seating area, we had the impression that we were sitting in the audience watching the mixologists performing their trade as if they were on a stage. Bar with no name? Or bar called On Stage?

Note: As of publication, most “Future” cocktails have not been fully conceptualized by co-owner Neung Kanivichaporn but are promised to be available soon… when he is done competing in the Diageo World Class competition in Mexico City this August, we presume. Break a leg, Neung!