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Sky Bar at LeBua: a great view but lousy drinks

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Despite having spent our first week in Thailand catching up on our to do list, we had time to see a few parts of the city, ride the train, and check out one of the local favorites: trendy rooftop bars.

We decided to take in sunset at the Sky Bar at LeBua and failed because we arrived a few minutes too late. One note when using an iPhone maps function in Thailand: the program will sometimes interpret a street number as a zip code, and deposit you at entirely the wrong end of the street.

While Thailand is generally a low-cost tourist destination, this business district bar swings high market, high-in-the-sky, and high-priced. Waiters in suits and waitresses in long fancy dresses greet you at the bottom of a flight of stone steps, then escort you past the outdoor dining area to the bar. On a weekday evening, it's an interesting mix of afterwork business people, elegant diners on a night out, and tourists in jeans. We ran into a very nice Australian couple who described to us their recent trip to Burma.

The view from the bar is unquestionably superb. On the sixty-fourth floor of the State Tower, the Sky Bar looks down over the bustling city and its neon lights. Bangkok skyscrapers are few and far between, which means that the skyline is mostly uninterrupted, and from here the haze of pollution that nestles over Bangkok is hard to miss. It was impossible to tell if the gibbous moon was red from normal atmospheric conditions or the smog, but either way it was pretty. As you turn away from the balcony, the gold-domed restaurant that caps State Tower is itself an image worth seeing at night.

That said, don't come for the drinks: what we tried ranged from disappointing to an outright titanic disaster. Pallavi's spicy gin and tonic wasn't horrible, but overdid the pepper to the exclusion of all other taste. "Earth," another Sky Bar specialty, claimed to be a mix of whiskey, a few other spirits, and lime juice, but was drained over crushed ice that watered it down to a thoroughly forgettable concoction: all that sticks in the mind is a sugary flavor of syrup. I moved to classics, but while the mojito was merely so-so, the Manhattan introduced me to the unpleasant concept of a fifty-fifty bourbon/vermouth split. It's a horrible potion that I hope never to suffer again, and I can't understand why any bartender would offer it to a customer, unless she wanted that customer never to return. By the way, all of these drinks are at New York prices (upwards of $12), and certainly not worth it.

We'll probably try another rooftop when we're back in Thailand, but while the Sky Bar is an architectural wonder, save yourself some money by buying a soft drink, watching the sunset, and heading for some other bar.

For instance, walk up the block to Jameson's Irish Pub Bangkok, where you can buy a relatively inexpensive glass of Hoegaarden that's about as big as your head.

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3 Comments

the Manhattan introduced me to the unpleasant concept of a fifty-fifty bourbon/vermouth split

I don't think that was a drink, it was an assassination attempt. :-S

Oh my goodness, Melody was staying at that hotel on the 51st floor while you were upstairs at the Skybar!!!! She and 2 friends got a really good deal on a room since one of her friends knew someone who worked there. They stayed there several days before moving to the Pullman Bangkok King Power which is where she is now. Wonders never cease in this small world! Gayle & Bill

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