ABar and ABar Rooftop
reviewed by : Ken Barrett
30 August 2018
About: The “AB” reference is to Akira Back, the charismatic Korean-born, American-raised chef whose restaurant in the Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park is helping to define a new form of Asian dining, and who is part of this venture on the top of the Marriott Marquis. Both outlets are however more about drinking than food, and this is one of the most dramatic rooftop drinking dens to be found in our fair city.
Decor: Take the dedicated roped-off lift from the lobby to the 37thfloor of the hotel for ABar, and if you wish there is a tiny little lift that will creak you up the final storey to the ABar Rooftop (or you can walk up the seemingly endless staircase). Start at the roof. There is an enormous expanse here, with glass barriers between drinkers and infinity, and potted plants wherein are buried air-con units. The lighting is low, the armchairs and sofas deep, the views ooh-inducing. One floor down, ABar is another vast space, its dark wooden decor somehow evoking both Victorian London and gritty 1930s New York, with wingback chairs, leather-bound books, a pool table, a glassed-off cigar divan, and a jazzy trio creating a perfect atmosphere for drinking.
Menu: There is little in the way of food here, but the bar snacks are all from Akira Back and include his tuna pizza (430 baht), his Wagyu tacos (340 baht), and his intensely spiced lamb skewers (250 baht) in smoked jalapeno sauce, simmering over glowing coals, and one can dine on these. On the rooftop is one of the largest selections of gin in Bangkok, a glorious listing that will astound any lover of this suddenly fashionable spirit. Down in ABar, Rojanat Chareonsri, known to all as Ping, is the face of the bar and head mixologist. A dual Thai and US citizen, his colourful career has included a spell as a petty officer in the US Navy, and with his experience creating cocktails in Washington DC, ABar is setting a hot pace in cool drinking. The choice of spirits here includes a superb choice of whiskies, including bourbon and rye.
Evaluation: Both of these venues are one of the most exciting recent developments in a city that is known for exciting drinking, and they can be combined for a thoroughly good evening out. If the bar snacks are not enough, Akira Back’s restaurant is also on the 37thfloor, and the decor continues very much in the style of ABar. In its previous incarnation, this vast barn of a hotel was bland to the point of being invisible, but its transformation into the Marriott Marquis brand (the first in the Asia Pacific) has been dramatic in terms of the F&B element. ABar and ABar Rooftop will only further boost the reputation of the hotel.