In many ways, Thai cuisine is based on meshing spicy, sweet, sour and salty into every dish. And those big, bold flavors transfer excellently into big, bold cocktails. Across the nation, dozens of restaurants and bars are serving drinks with a Thai twist, from high-profile, chef-driven eateries to top flight cocktail bars. Below, take a look to see who is playing up Thai chili, kaffir lime and lemongrass in your city.
Blackbird and Henry
Location: 3106 Guadalupe Street, Austin, TX
Bartender: Allison Greene
Drink: A Million Little Fibers
A Million Little Fibers at Blackbird and Henry is made with Pisco Porton, Paula's Texas Orange liqueur, lime juice, Bad Dog Fire and Damnation Bitters, plus a house-made tamarind syrup with a dash of yellow curry powder. But it all starts off with a mustard seed salted rim.
The Peached Tortilla
Location: 5520 Burnet Road, Austin, TX
Bartender: Zitao Kok
Drink: Margarita de Peached
Here, the margarita gets a Thai twist. Think habanero-infused tequila, with Cointreau, lime juice and Thai basil. Another Thai cocktail to try is the Roppongi Gimlet, made with Tito's Vodka, lime juice, simple syrup, cucumber and Thai chili.
Location: 795 Main Street, Cambridge, MA
Drink: Thai Cocktail
The Thai Cocktail at Cuchi Cuchi incorporates coconut rum and citrus vodka, muddled with lemongrass and basil. It's topped with a Champagne floater and served in a martini glass.
Location: 9A Tyler Street, Boston, MA
Bartender: Markus Yao
Unleash your inner Dragonball fan with the Kamehameha at Boston's Shojo. The drink is made with a tongue burning combination of house Thai chili-infused vodka, Fire Puncher Vodka, plus lemon and coconut milk to offset the heat.
Location: 1081 Morrison Drive, Charleston, SC
Bartender: Jayce McConnell
Drink: Burmese Garden
The Burmese Garden is made with a celery-infused Bristow Gin, lemon juice, and a house-made Thai basil simple syrup. It's shaken and strained, served over cracked ice and garnished with a lemon twist and a Thai basil sprig.
Location: 76 Queen Street, Charleston, SC
Bartender: Rod Weaver
Drink: Vish's Twang
At Sean Brock's Husk in Charleston (one of the restaurant's two locations), find the Vish's Twang, a concoction made in honor of guest chef Vish Bhatt from Mississippi's The Macintosh. The drink was originally created to pair with a roasted lamb stew, and is served punch style, matching the communal serving style of the stew itself. Vish's Twang is made with espelette-spiced palm syrup, filtered tamarind tea and Rittenhouse rye whiskey. It's mixed together and chilled overnight, served by the glass over a large ice cube and garnished with fresh spearmint.
Dusek's Board + Beer
Location: 1227 West 18th Street, Chicago, IL
Bartender: Greg Butera
Drink: The Crossfader
The Crossfader at Dusek's calls for blanco tequila, Cocchi Americano, fresh lime juice, pineapple syrup and house-made citrus-hop bitters. And it's those bitters that provide the real Thai influence here. They are made from lemon peel, grapefruit peel and Citra hops, along with lemongrass, long peppercorn, ginger, galangal, cinnamon, cloves and toasted coriander seed. The Crossfader is served on the rocks and garnished with a pineapple wedge.
Location: 2323 N. Henderson Avenue, Dallas, TX
Bartender: Allison Yoder
Drink: Passionate Peruvian
The Passionate Peruvian at Gemma gets its name from the Pisco Porton used as its base alcohol. However, that pisco is amped up, infused with both strawberry and Thai basil, then mixed together with lemon juice, lime juice and bitters.
Location: 3699 McKinney Avenue, Dallas, TX
Bartender: Jason Kosmas
Drink: Kaffir Collins
All of the cocktails at Malai Kitchen have been conceptualized by Jason Kosmas, designed to complement the restaurant's robust Asian flavors. Try the Kaffir Collins, a spruced up Tom Collins made from a house-infused kaffir lime leaf Hayman's Old Tom Gin, along with lemon and soda. Also, keep an eye out for off-the-menu drinks made from Mekhong, known as "Thai Whisky," though the spirit is actually a rum.
Location: 307 Fairview Street, Houston, TX
Bartender: Hal Brock
Drink: Delhi Sour
Bar Boheme plays up a Thai-influenced twist on the whiskey sour. Here, beverage director Hal Brock uses Old Overholt rye, fresh lemon juice and clove, mixed with tamarind syrup. The name implies it's in homage to India, but the tamarind ensures it's a match for Thailand, too.
The Spare Room
Location: 7000 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Bartender: Yael Vengroff
Drink: Midori Sour
Located within the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, The Spare Room showcases a very Thai Midori Sour, featuring Hendrick's Gin, kaffir lime, Midori, egg white and matcha green tea. There's also Hooked on a Feeling, a tequila cocktail with lime juice, pineapple, ginger, Cardamaro, and tamarindo, an agua fresca made from tamarind juice.
Death & Co.
Location: 433 East 6th Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Eryn Reece
Drink: Drop the Vowels
Eryn Reece came up with Drop the Vowels for one of New York's hottest cocktail spots. The drink has been on the menu since summer 2014, and includes Elijah Craig bourbon, Thai bird chili-infused Rittenhouse rye whiskey, lime juice, pineapple juice, Aperol and raspberries. It's all shaken up and served with a lime wheel in a traditional coupe cocktail glass.
Locations: 371 W. 46th Street; 1626 2nd Avenue, New York, NY
Bartender: Luis Villanueva
The Chilango is a best seller at both La Pulperia locations in Manhattan. Mixologist Luis Villanueva crafted the drink with La Pitaya by Riazul tequila, Cointreau, La Pulperia's house-made spicy sauce and tamarind. The drink is garnished with lime and a spicy rim.
Mission Chinese Food
Location: 171 East Broadway, New York, NY
Bartender: Sam Anderson
Drink: Phil Khallins
At the New York location of Mission Chinese Food, check out Sam Anderson's best seller, the Phil Khallins, served in a Chinese soup bowl. It's an alcoholic riff on a creamy Tom Kha coconut soup, made from gin, coconut, kaffir lime, ginger, fried chilies and sesame oil.
Location: 120 Rivington Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Natasha David
Drink: Viking Cruise
Nitecap's Natasha David devised the Viking Cruise, and it's a drink made from Krogstad Aquavit, pineapple juice, coconut cream, lime juice and curry leaves. The tropical intoxicant is shaken, strained and served in a mug with crushed ice, garnished with mint. Also try the 50 Footer, made from Siembra Azul Blanco Tequila, Beefeater Gin, yellow Chartreuse, lime juice, simple syrup, and a kaffir lime leaf, shaken and strained into a coupe glass.
The Dead Rabbit
Location: 30 Water Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Jillian Vose
Drink: Spell Spoke
Mixologist Jillian Vose came up with the Spell Spoke. The drink takes hibiscus-infused Jameson Black Barrel and mixes it together with fresh lime juice, cane syrup, ginger syrup and Boston bitters, along with two kaffir lime leaves. It's garnished with nutmeg, and served over cracked ice.
Location: 342 E. 6th Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Kelvin Uffre
Drink: Deep Sea Colony
Kelvin Uffre's Deep Sea Colony is a drink made from Mizu Shochu plus a number of unique liqueurs, including Poli Miele, Suze Gentian, and Crème de Violette. It also incorporates the Thai staple of taro root, along with vanilla soda and sea salt, served on the rocks.
The Flatiron Room
Location: 37 West 36th Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Louis Zammaretto
Drink: Siamese Storm
A brand new addition to The Flatiron Room's cocktail list is the Siamese Storm. The drink incorporates slowly-aged Thai Phraya Rum, touted as Asia's only luxury rum brand, and is blended with ginger beer and fresh lime juice, garnished with a lime twist and served in a Collins glass.
Whiskey Soda Lounge NY
Location: 115 Columbia Street, Brooklyn, NY
Bartender: Michael Pieretti
Drink: Mao Takrai
At the New York location of Andy Ricker's Whiskey Soda Lounge, authenticity is the name of the game. That's why bottles of Thailand's ubiquitous Chang and Singha beers can be found. Instead though, opt for the Mao Takrai—Drunk on Lemongrass. The drink showcases white rum, lemon juice and lemongrass syrup shaken together and served in a martini glass. A second option takes that Singha beer as a base, and makes a Thaichelada, with tamarind, lime, Maggi sauce and Jaew Thai chili sauce, all served in a chili-salt rimmed glass.
Citizen Public House
Location: 7111 East 4th Avenue, Scottsdale, AZ
Bartender: Brian Goodwin
Drink: Thai Margarita
Visit Citizen Public House for another Thai take on the margarita. Here, the bar mixes Patron silver with galangal and keffir simple syrup plus a tamarind reduction. The drink also calls for lime, basil, plus a Thai chili and sea salt rim, all on the rocks.
Whiskey Soda Lounge
Location: 3131 SE Division Street, Portland, OR
Bartender: Andy Ricker
Drink: Tamarind Whiskey Sour
A classic at Andy Ricker's original Pok Pok and the rest of his burgeoning empire, including Whiskey Soda Lounge in Portland, Oregon, is the Tamarind Whiskey Sour. This riff on a whiskey sour incorporates tamarind, fresh lime juice, palm sugar and bourbon, served on the rocks. It'll rightfully put any old sickly sweet whiskey sour made from plastic bottle mix to shame.
Location: 193 J Street, San Diego, CA
Bartender: Anthony Schmidt
Drink: Thai Milk Punch
The Thai Milk Punch is an alcoholic version of sweet Thai iced tea. The drink is built with a house-made black tea-infused rum blend, coconut syrup, lime juice, Angostura bitters, and a dash of absinthe. It's lightly shaken, poured of crushed ice, and garnished with nutmeg and basil leaf.
Location: 4696 30th Street, San Diego, CA
Bartender: Erick Castro
Drink: Paul Basile
Erick Castro of Polite Provisions serves up the Paul Basile. The drink is made with Beefeater Gin, lime juice, simple syrup, absinthe, and a handful of Thai basil leaves. It's muddled together, shaken and garnished with a Thai basil leaf.
Location: 680 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA
Bartender: Troy Bayless, Christ Aivaliotis
Drink: Floyd Pepper
At the new San Francisco location of James Syhabout's Hawker Fare, try the Floyd Pepper cocktail. It's a mix of Neisson Blanc, El Dorado spiced rum, lemon juice, honey syrup, manzanilla Sherry, and guanabana, also known as soursop or cherimoya. Also try the Siam Punch, which calls for Batavia Arrack infused with a who's who of Thai ingredients, including galangal, kaffir lime, turmeric and lemongrass. Pro tip: keep an eye out for an upcoming collaboration with Iron Springs Brewery, too, which will yield a rice, galangal and kaffir lime leaf draft lager.
Location: 1525 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA
Bartender: Bryan Hamann
Drink: Sunny Jim
The Sunny Jim is named for James "Sunny Jim" Rolph, San Francisco mayor in 1911, the year the Progress Theater first opened its doors. The restaurant is housed in the same building today. The drink incorporates gin, lemon and pineapple juices, vanilla, soda, and kaffir lime leaf, for a bright, refreshing springtime cocktail.
Location: 2222 2nd Avenue, Seattle, WA
Bartender: Kristen Burns
Drink: Huckleberry Basil Mojito
The Huckleberry Basil Mojito changes up the mint, lime and rum traditions of the mojito. Instead, find Koenig Huckleberry vodka, fresh Thai basil, and Meyer lemons. The ingredients are muddled and topped off with soda, perfect to cool down as the weather warms up.
Mango Tree DC
Location: 929 H Street NW, Washington, DC
Bartender: Rob Day
Drink: Spicy Siam
At the first stateside location of this international chain based in Bangkok, authentic Thai flavors and concepts can be found all across the menu. For those who believe the best way to wash down a spicy meal is with a spicy drink, try the Spicy Siam. The beverage incorporates serrano chili-infused Parrot Bay Mango Rum, along with fresh mango juice and freshly squeezed lime. The cocktail is then garnished with a full Thai chili, for a perfect pairing of spice, sweet and sour all in one.
Location: 2101 L Street NW, Washington, DC
Bartender: Chad Spangler
Drink: Som Tum Sling
Soi 38 owners and Bangkok natives Nat Ongsangkoon and Dia Khanthongthip hold little back in terms of delivering Thai food far removed from typical, dulled carry out fare. Their cocktail menu even showcases a series of creations inspired by the flavors found in Thai dishes. The Som Tum Sling is based on traditional Thai green papaya salad. They infuse Bombay Sapphire East with black peppercorn and lemongrass then add fresh lime juice, as well as a Thai chili and black pepper syrup. The drink is served over crushed ice and topped with shredded green papaya and a full Thai chili.