The lebua group is well known in Bangkok for it's innovative and indulgent gastronomy. Alongside the luxury hotel, State Tower, a monumental skyscraper adorned with a Grecian golden dome, houses eight bars and restaurants, including Sirocco, the world's tallest open-air Mediterranean restaurant, the infamous Sky Bar, which played host to Bradley Cooper and co in the Hangover II and now, the world's highest whiskey bar, Alfresco 64 in partnership with Chivas Regal.
Hanging eight hundred feet in the air above the glowing maze of Thailand's chaotic capital and looking out towards the snaking Chao Phraya river, Alfresco 64 is the kind of place the stylish, young and successful (exclusivity is one of lebua's benchmarks) gather at sunset for a pre-dinner drink. Whilst whisky usually tends to conjure up images of dark wood, velvet, strong-smelling leather and elderly bespectacled men puffing clouds of cigar smoke, Alfresco 64 is modern, light and glitzy.
The bar's terrace, designed like a yacht with sunken seating areas, silver railing round the ‘bow’, and a ‘captain's seat’, fills up quickly before sunset, but even when the sky has turned from pink and gold to dark blue and black, it's a beautifully serene place to stand above the city's twinkling expanse, watching the nesting swallows swooping round the skyscrapers.
The drinks menu is extensive and slightly overwhelming on a first glance, but the bartenders here are experts and suggest we begin with cocktails. They serve us the signature first, the Alfrescorini (a twist on Negroni) with red vermouth, Campari and dehydrated orange, which feels fresh and sophisticated, whilst the Cloud on 64 comes in bubbling and smoking cauldron; a fruity blend of Chivas Regal 18 years, pomegranate, honey, lime, maraschino liqueur and soda. It's dangerously easy to drink. “Our recommendation for people who don't like the taste of whisky,” the bartender jokes, which feels almost personal so we find ourselves flicking through the more serious pages of the menu, browsing varieties of the finest Chivas blended scotches, including two special Regal blends (exclusive to lebua in Thailand) plus a select few Scottish names and single malts from Japan.
To celebrate the opening of Alfresco 64, lebua hotels and resorts, and Chivas Regal created an exclusive blend of whisky, of which 96 bottles have been produced to be served only at the bar. We're too intrigued not to try. It comes in a modern style tumbler rather than trad crystal (another nod to the younger clientele), but there's nothing light about this whisky. Rich, layered and warm, it's an indulgent drink, one you can imagine sipping late in the evening with a piece of dark chocolate (if you're feeling particularly flash there are whole bottles to be bought from the cellar), but it's 7pm in Bangkok – the night is still hopeful so we order popcorn shrimp and a platter of thick cut smoked salmon slices.
There's a live DJ playing an Ibiza-esque soundtrack, which helps to set the mood without being overly intrusive and despite the airiness of it all, it begins to feel quite cosy somehow – although the warmth of the evening might also have something to do with it. Before we leave, we return to the bow of the bar, below us the Sirat Expressway shines red with commuters making their way home through the city. From our perch, it's a slow and silent line of traffic; Bangkok, like Alfresco 64, is in the calm period of transition when the day's at its end and night is yet to begin.