The last few years have seen a surge in new entrants trying to make their mark on Bangkok’s thriving bar scene. As a result of the stiff competition, the equation for a successful bar has become even more complicated, requiring more than just ‘stiff’ drinks to ensure discerning patrons return again and again.
One bar that has managed to propel itself onto the scene and maintain its popularity is Firefly Bar at Sindhorn Kempinski Hotel Bangkok. Not only is it thematically unique, but the team are wildly talented, and the cocktail list will make it difficult to pick a favourite.
Firefly Bar is located on the Lobby level of the Sindhorn Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, which is a part of the leafy Sindhorn Village in Langsuan. Its design is inspired by the jazz bars of yesteryear, boasting luxurious furnishings, dark wood finishes, glowing chandeliers, plush armchairs, statement lamps, and striking, patterned floors.
The venue’s centre-piece is undoubtedly the main bar, which is bathed in a deep green colour and topped with a dark tiled bar-top, creating a striking contrast against the gold cabinet of spirits that sits behind it. Here, guests are offered a glimpse of the extensive list of tipples they can enjoy during their evening.
Heading the bar team is Bar Manager, Dicky Hartono, who is no stranger in the Bangkok booze scene. Known for his innovative creations and savvy for utilising local ingredients, Dicky has won countless awards over his career. He brings his wealth of knowledge to his role at Firefly Bar, crafting a memorable menu of signature cocktails that embody the bar’s ethos. To better understand what that is, I spoke to Dicky about how Firefly Bar was conceptualised.
During our conversation, I was told that at the heart of Firefly Bar is a story inspired by the mythology surrounding fireflies. This story centres on an imagined group of them that once travelled far and wide across the world, flashing along their journey to signal their friends to join them. During their travels, these fireflies picked up various spices, herbs, bitters, and florals before heading back ‘home’ to Firefly Bar. It is through this ‘collection’ of ingredients that the bar’s menu of imaginative cocktails came to be.
The menu itself reads like a small picture book, complete with drawings, ingredient lists, and witty descriptions of each tipple. The element I liked most, however, was the incorporation of a ‘cocktail legend’ illustrated using phases of the moon to describe which are fruity and light, sour and refreshing, complex and bitter, and strong and bold.
When explaining the menu, Dicky told me that it was conceptualised to be very customer focused, paralleling the overall approach to running the bar. The team wanted each patron to feel comfortable browsing the menu, and for the information to be accessible so that every guest can grow their knowledge and appreciation for the drinks on offer.
Beyond just cocktails, the menu also boasts a wide-range of wine and spirits, including an impressive collection of gin. Across two of its pages, the menu features a ‘DIY Gin & Tonic’ guide where you can pick your favourite type of gin, mixer, and garnishes.
Of course, if you are undecided on your drink of choice, the bar team are more than happy to help answer any questions or even choose a tipple for you. As Dicky puts it, “Unlike other places, we don’t ask the customer what they like, but rather what they don’t like. This opens many avenues for us to happily surprise them.”
The element of fun is present in many aspects of the Firefly Bar experience. For example, we were shown a stylish drinks trolley used by the team to create classic concoctions, such as martinis, tableside. Moreover, the bar features live entertainment every evening courtesy of the talented Toby & Joy who perform jazz, Motown, and soul hits. We were also told that Dicky, who is also a talented vocalist, joins the band on occasion.
After an entertaining conversation with the team, we tucked into a selection of bar bites beginning with crispy calamari served with a piquant chilli aioli. Another recommended dish for those who like spicy flavours is their spicy umami prawns – tiger prawns coated in banana chillies, smoky cajun seasoning, oregano flakes, and a zesty mayonnaise.
We followed this with their sourdough bikini toast topped with oozing cheddar cheese, applewood smoked ham, and a moreish truffle sauce. We then moved onto the marinated beef tartar served with a side of crispy sourdough bread; French fries topped with truffle and parmesan shavings; and their lobster roll that consists of toasted brioche topped with tender chunks of Canadian lobster.
As for the drinks, we sampled a selection of Firefly Bar’s signature cocktails beginning with their ‘fruity and light’ concoctions. ‘Malaya’ puts Thai flavours centre-stage and is crafted using Phraya Elements rum; falernum syrup liqueur that has essences of ginger, lime, almond, cloves and allspice; kaffir lime, SILPIN mango sticky rice concentrated flavouring, and creole bitters. For a taste of South America, ‘Over the Andes’ is a take on a pisco sour with hints of apricot, lime, and pink grapefruit.
The Kempinski brand ambassador for all their properties is the ‘Lady in Red,’ elegantly dressed hosts who take care of guests from the moment they arrive to the moment they depart. To pay tribute to this important part of the Kempinski luxury experience, Firefly Bar have a ‘Elegant Lady in Red’ cocktail that comprises of gin, red wine, raspberries, blueberries, yuzushu, citrus and a rose reduction. Highly Instagrammable, the drink is served with a bubble dome that you can pop for dramatic effect.
‘Elegant Lady in Red’ was one of my favourites of the evening, the other was ‘Firefly Rebirth.’ Similar to a whisky sour, the cocktail is crafted using J.W. Gold Label whisky, egg white, lavender, umeshu, citrus, yuzu, aloe vera, and peach bitters, and is just as tasty as it is aromatic.
If you prefer your drinks spirit-forward, opt for ‘Don’t Break My Nuts,’ a punchy whisky and bourbon concoction infused with dates and walnuts, and sweetened with a Campari reduction, and chocolate and orange bitters. Also strong and bold, the ‘Bamboo Cocktail’ is a crisp combination of dry sherry, Mancino Secco vermouth, and angostura bitters.
For more information about Firefly Bar, click here.