Nestled deep inside Sukhumvit’s notorious Soi 11, up a winding staircase, and beyond a deep-green entwine of leafy plants, comes Bangkok’s latest secret hideout in the form of a French wine bar named The Bar Upstairs. A one-stop location for all things fine and wine, the romantic spot comes as the newest project by Soho Hospitality, the group behind beloved Cuban bar Havana Social and rooftop hotspot Above Eleven. Bringing a picnic in Provence to Bangkok’s buzzing city centre, we recently took a stroll up to The Bar Upstairs to experience this charming urban jardin in all its European flair and flourish.
The Bar Upstairs is themed as an abandoned country house in the South of France, boasting a relaxed rural charm, as guests mingle amongst overgrown plants and rustic wooden interiors. Located on the third floor above French fine dining restaurant Brasserie Cordonnier, the venue can be approached via both an indoor and outdoor staircase, much like a gateway to an enchanted forest. Once inside, the dimly lit bar features a high ceiling that overlooks two floors: an open downstairs drinks and dining area, and a more intimate terrace mezzanine on the second level.
Welcoming both connoisseurs and amateurs, there is also a wine cellar showcasing an impressive selection of over 150 wines from notable winemakers from around the globe. Guests are welcome to pop in to pick up a bottle to take home — perhaps along with a French brie from the cheese counter — or taste a few and select their favourite to enjoy in-house. The crowd is a mix of young professionals and locals, catching up over bar nibbles and fine bites in a lively setting of upbeat music and buzzing conversation. There’s definitely a laidback sense of community here, as diners share stories of their days, smear baguettes, pass the cheese, and cheerily clink glasses, in an ambience that is warm and casual, and yet still very much contemporary and stylish.
Whilst The Bar Upstairs’ main focus is definitely their wine and cocktail selection, the food menu provides a delicious array of French and Mediterranean fare, perfectly suited as casual snacks or even a full-fledged dinner. Menu standouts definitely include the classic Burgundy snails served with garlic, parsley, and pastis butter; or the creamy, hot, half-baked camembert served with a selection of breads for dipping. For a refreshing bite, we love the chilled ratatouille, consisting of a mix of Mediterranean vegetables, a trio of tomatoes, and sunflower seeds and mint. Anyone looking to really indulge (and turn a blind eye to calorie counts) should try the croque monsieur: a melted marriage of baked Emmental cheese, Paris ham, and Mornay sauce, topped with a fried egg for the ultimate indulgence.
For those in a group of two or more persons, definitely order ‘The Chef’s Picnic’, served in an actual wicker basket, and sweetly reminiscent of a summer’s day in the park. Diners get to unpack and discover each of the items that have been thoughtfully placed within, cutely packaged in wax paper and glass jars. The treats include everything from imported cold cuts and cheeses, to homemade rillettes or terrine, salad and pickles, and two mini baguettes. A hands-on and homely way to share a meal with friends, we loved this immersive experience, imaginative and well-executed — complete with a white and blue picnic blanket. Reaching into the basket for our final treat, a decadent chocolate mousse with chocolate crumble and Chantilly cream ended our meal on a rich and sweetly pampering note.
It’s easy for a wine bar to seem intimidating to those who are only just beginning to dabble in the world of Malbecs and Merlots, yet The Bar Upstairs manages beautifully to balance an informed yet unpretentious wine experience for everyone. The bar prides itself in being a spot that not only provides a vast range of wines, but also educates its visitors with monthly wine tastings and courses.
Anyone who visits is welcome to explore the wine cellar, where a well-curated selection of red, white, rosé, sparkling, and dessert wines is presented. There’s a bottle for every taste and every budget, as the options span over regional, vintage, and even sustainable wines. For those who can’t quite lock in their choice for the night, The Bar Upstairs also allows diners to taste wines they are curious about, before selecting a glass (or a bottle) to enjoy. What’s more, all wines on offer can also be purchased for takeaway to drink at home. Consider it your local bodega, that has been teleported from a French rue in Marseille to an elegantly elevated garden pavilion in Sukhumvit.
Beyond wines, The Bar Upstairs also provides an extensive selection of other beverages. The usual suspects from spirits to beers and juices (and even mocktails) are present on the drinks list, yet Soho Hospitality’s mixologist Davide Sambo has also curated a specialty cocktail menu for the new spot. Themed around floral and fruity flavours, the plant-based selection provides light and refreshing botanist cocktails. We particularly love the Picnic in Provence, available as a single drink or as a pitcher to share, made with infused rosé wine, bianco vermouth, elderflower, seasonal fruit, and soda. In keeping with its sense of community, the drinks here are designed to be tried and tested, passed around, and enjoyed together.
Between wines and vines, The Bar Upstairs brings a French flair to town in a way that invites first-timers to fall in love, and regulars to choose it for their post-work antics. A perfect spot for an intimate soirée or a chatty catch-up, the French wine bar is cultured yet cool, and brings a fun new vibe to an area that was lacking a refreshment. With The Bar Upstairs, Sukhumvit’s Soi 11 gets the secret garden it has been missing, blooming bright amongst the other bars in the area as Bangkok’s hottest one-stop go-to for all things casual wining and comfortable dining.
Opening Hours: Sun–Thurs, 5pm–12am; Fri–Sat, 5pm–2am
Recommended Items: Ham and cheese croquetas, half-baked camembert, ‘The Chef’s Picnic’ to share
Price: Wines start at THB160 per glass, food around THB450 per person
Noise Level: Lively but not loud, buzzing but not intrusive
Service: Very friendly and attentive